Birmingham city school students get help with long distance learning from Alabama Power Print Shop

Birmingham city school students get help with long distance learning from Alabama Power Print Shop
In this 'new normal," long distance learning is underway for Birmingham city school students. The school district faced a monumental challenge in providing students with print materials on a short timeframe. With an urgent request by the Birmingham Education Foundation, Alabama Power's Print Shop team stepped up to quickly produce learning packets for 42 Birmingham schools, including Spanish lesson packages for students who speak English as a second language. (Alabama Power Print Shop)

At Birmingham City Schools (BCS), learning isn’t taking a back seat to the coronavirus.

Thanks to the Alabama Power Print Shop in Birmingham, teachers are able to supply their students with learning packets for the comprehensive distance learning program now underway.

In March, BCS administrators faced a dilemma: many students don’t have internet access or electronic devices, meaning that the Birmingham Education Foundation needed to provide up to six weeks of printed lesson plans. Working with the foundation, the BCS devised a plan to print and distribute materials to its 42 schools.

“The challenge,” said Birmingham Education Foundation Executive Director J.W. Carpenter, “was how to turn around so many copies so quickly.”

That’s when Alabama Power External Affairs Manager Foster Ware stepped in. Ware, a new board member for the Birmingham Education Foundation, talked with Printing Services Supervisor Tony Byrd about the best way to produce the lesson packets.

“This job was pretty much up our alley because the packets were like mini-books,” said Byrd, who has worked at Alabama Power and Southern Company for more than 41 years.

The BCS emailed electronic files with learning materials for 42 schools, kindergarten through 12th grade. In addition, the Print Shop produced 1,400 Spanish packets for schools that have many students who speak English as a second language: Central Park, Hayes, Huffman, Inglenook, Martha Gaskins, Norwood and Robinson Elementary schools; Huffman and Ossie Ware middle schools; and Huffman, Jackson-Olin and Woodlawn high schools.

Byrd and his team worked on the project, in between making social distancing signage for company offices and trucks. Amanda Williams ran the digital press, with Printing Operators Jordan Gill and Josh Schrechongost and Printing Coordinator Scott Rouse cutting the paper and organizing packets.

The team packaged the material by school grade, then set the boxes in the breezeway to promote safe handling and social distancing. The Print Shop didn’t open its gates. Byrd and other employees made sure that drivers for the Birmingham Education Foundation could safely access the packets and deliver them to the BCS. When needed, Print Shop staff helped load the materials into vehicles.

“People came in their personal cars to pick up the packets for distribution,” Byrd said.

The Print Shop dedicated 28 man-hours to the work.

“It was a massive job – 157,000 impressions – but it was simple, one-sided, black-and-white printing,” Byrd said. “We were happy to help with the project and be able to help the schools out. It made us all feel that we were contributing in some way during this time.”

Carpenter was thrilled with the Print Shop’s work, noting that the project was “a testament to teamwork.”

“There is a power in a network of people working together to ensure our students have every opportunity,” said Carpenter, who has led the Birmingham Education Foundation for seven years. “Birmingham city schools had a plan, the Birmingham Education Foundation stood ready to help, and we could not have done this except for the quick work by Alabama Power’s team. We are grateful for their flexibility and commitment to their community. Great teamwork leads to great outcomes.”

BCS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring expressed her gratitude to everyone who helped provide the lesson plans for Birmingham students.

“We are very appreciative of the collaboration and partnership that made these learning packets available for our scholars,” said Herring, who has served in her role with BCS for three years. “This was a Herculean task, but Alabama Power and the Birmingham Education Foundation made sure that we got it done, and for that we are thankful.”

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