Pryor Public Schools is finding solutions for students

Thursday, March 26, 2020
Pryor Public Schools is finding solutions for students
Courtesy photo by Bianka Rock Above
Pryor Public School IT Director Randy Falls Down has been working hard to help students get access to the internet, as well as help teachers learn new digital tools.
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Bianka Rock Above, principal at Pryor Public Schools, knows how to put in a hard day’s work. Over the course of the school she’s served at a principal to the high school, junior high and elementary schools, interim superintendent and now delivery driver.

“About 40 families came to pick up instructional packets,” Rock Above said. “So, since I live in Billings, I volunteered to take the rest of the packets and Chrome books to the students in town.”

With mandatory school closures across the state due to the coronavirus, Pryor Public Schools have had to step up to the digital plate to continue instruction of the nearly 140 students.

Rock Above gives most of the credit to IT Director Randy Falls Down.

“He’s been great,” she said. “He was able to get the Chrome books for the students and updated services at the start of the year.”

Rock Above said she’s not sure how the school would have addressed the shut down if that foundation hadn’t been laid.

Falls Down, she said, has been teaching faculty and staff how to use the online Google Classroom educational platform and various online video conferencing applications.

The biggest obstacle for Pryor students is internet access. The digital divide extends throughout most of the small community.

Rock Above said one of the staffers at the school saw that a Billings-area internet provider was donating access to students. She asked Falls Down to investigate options for their students.

“Unfortunately, they didn’t provide service out in Pryor, but Randy called a few other providers and by the end of the day he was able to find a provider that was willing to give our students free installation and internet access.”

Pryor Public Schools students can call for details. The phone number is 406-222-5454. They must mention there are Pryor students and must be able to provide a student ID to the company. The internet service will remain free for students until May 29.

Mention Pryor School when calling, Rock Above said.

Rock Above said teachers are eager to get all of their lessons online and to use the technology available to them.

But Pryor faculty members are not the only ones changing their routines. The kitchen staff started this week off by showing up early this weekend to prepare a week’s work of breakfasts and lunches for students.

The janitorial and maintenance staff has been busy disinfecting and sanitizing all surfaces throughout the school.

Other essential staffers like the business manger and payroll clerk have been making sure bills and employees are being paid.

“This has definitely taken an emotional toll on the staff and teachers,” Rock Above said, “but everyone is so helpful and caring together, it’s a team effort.”


Note: If Pryor Public Schools students need a student ID they can call the school at 259-7329 to request one.