LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Academies of Louisville programs at Jefferson County Public Schools usually offer hands-on opportunities for students to learn specialized skills. That's still the case during NTI, but it takes a lot of creativity from teachers.

What You Need To Know

  • As winter break ends for students across the commonwealth, teachers are adapting to non-traditional instruction (NTI)

  • JCPS has been doing NTI for most of the year, and the Academies of Louisville programs are helping teachers continue hands-on learning in a virtual environment

  • Students in Louisville and elsewhere have said NTI can be difficult, especially for hands-on learners

Bethany Mattingly teaches agriculture at Seneca High School. Usually students in the program learn about the industry by working with live animals and plants. Since the district shifted to virtual learning in March, she has adjusted the focus of her classes a bit.

"What we have been focusing a lot on with the agriculture program at Seneca High School is pushing science and really looking at the science behind agriculture," Mattingly said.

Shadowing her class Wednesday, students were working with plant seeds, envelopes, and rulers.

"We have to figure out what kind of seeds we have," student Mackenzie Vaughn said.

Student Kenneth Brown said this extended time of NTI learning has been far from easy.

"It's definitely been bit difficult. I've never had to push myself so far in school before, but it is a learning experience and all of my teachers are reaching out a lot," Brown said. "They are taking new and revolutionary approaches to assignments. It's really made my year a lot better."

While it's not the same as actually working in the greenhouse, student Eveline Clark said she thinks it will help her appreciate everything even more once she is back in-person.

"It's really more of the science behind it. With that, we are still able to be hands-on and do all of these labs and experiments. When we go back in-person, hopefully we will be able to tie it together in a way we hadn't been able to before," Clark said.

Mattingly said she will continue to implement some of the lessons she came up with during NTI into her course work, even once her students are back to learning in-person.