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Hennessey Public Schools

Hennessey Public Schools is a school district in Oklahoma, running classes from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade
The Client

About Hennessey Public Schools

Hennessey Public School is a school district serving Kingfisher County in Oklahoma. They have nearly 900 students enrolled from Pre-K-12. Dr. Mike Woods is the Hennessey Superintendent and led the charge to modernize the school district’s learning spaces.

Hennessey Public Schools


The Challenge
Hennessey students, like many parts of the rural heartland, are geographically isolated. Dr. Woods wanted to connect these students with guest speakers, teachers, and other classes around the country and world. The goal was to use video conferencing and content-sharing technology to expand their horizons.

Beyond that, he wanted to make it easier for children or teachers to attend classes if they were prevented from making it in physically due to illness, sporting events, or even snow days. Hennessey needed a way to facilitate distance education in an area that may not have consistent internet speed, and to record lessons for those who missed out.
The Approach

Dr. Woods and the Hennessey team applied for (and won) the USDA’s RUS Grant to finance the hardware necessary to fulfill their vision:

  • Large touchscreen displays at the front of the classroom, effectively replacing the whiteboard. Teachers (or students) can write on the display, bring up images and annotate, or play videos on them.
  • Then, thanks to Poly codecs, the content being displayed onscreen can be shared online for students joining over distance. Poly cameras capture the teacher and classroom and transmit that as well. Students at home feel like they are in the classroom.
  • And finally, a cloud solution-in this case, Pragmatic’s UMX platform - is used to make sure that students can join from their browser at home, even with limited bandwidth/internet speed. In a pinch, they can join over the phone. Teachers can record via UMX and share with students who were unable to make the class initially. (“No more snow days or missing classes for sports,” jokes Dr. Woods.)

A subsequent grant allowed Hennessey to provide every student with a Chromebook laptop for use inside and outside the classroom, making sure everyone could join their class via UMX.


Testimonial Hennessey Public Schools
The Results
An anecdote: students at Aline-Cleo Public School were able to connect with a class in Raglan, New Zealand and completed several science classes together. The conducted a science experiment at the same time from around the world. Students told their teacher that it felt like they’d leave the classroom and bump into their new friends in the hall.

Beyond the success of the distance education program as planned, Hennessey was also fully prepared to deal with the COVID pandemic when schools were forced to closed. Teachers were able to conduct lessons from home, and students followed along via UMX on their laptop browsers.

Once school opened up again in the fall, anyone feeling symptoms of COVID were able to stay at home and still take part in classes. Hennessey even wrote a policy allowing
teachers to teach from home without using sick days while their students were in class with a supervisor physically present.

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