As the state’s largest public virtual charter school, EPIC offers an individualized one-on-one virtual charter option for students throughout the state and a blended learning option for students in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. Call to schedule an appointment.
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Read below to learn more from Superintendent Bart Banfield about this unique virtual school, the future of education and about their Learning Fund program.
What is your background and how long have you been Head of Epic Schools?
Prior to becoming superintendent in 2019, I served as the assistant superintendent of instruction for EPIC Charter Schools, a position I’d held since 2014. I have been a public educator for more than 20 years. I have also coached girls’ basketball and was a history teacher at Eufaula High School. Later, I served as the superintendent of Stidham Public Schools where I earned the distinction of becoming Oklahoma’s youngest public school superintendent at the age of 27. I have a master’s degree in education administration from East Central University in Ada. I recently published a book available on Amazon called Virtual Leadership: The Essential Principles for Remote Work.
What is your educational philosophy and how does that impact the students at Epic?
My educational philosophy is the same as EPIC’s: school can be different. It’s more than just our motto, it’s a mindset that sits at the very core of our educational model. More than a third of EPIC’s students come to us because they were bullied or faced school safety issues. Others were seeking more flexibility and autonomy in how or when they learn. The fact is no student is the same, so the mindset that one size fits all when it comes to education is outdated and unaligned with the realities of 21st-century learning needs.
What has changed in education the most since you started? What are the current trends and where is education going?
One of the things that I connected with very early in my educational career was distance learning and the role that technology can play in educating a student. Distance learning has shaped how and where students are able to learn and gives them more opportunities to grow academically. We’ve seen the need for distance learning play itself out in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. I predict distance learning will continue to play a significant role in the education of our children even after the pandemic has subsided. For example, in public education, technology and artificial intelligence will enable schools to individualize the educational experience of every child who walks through their doors. I know this to be true because that’s exactly what we’re doing at EPIC. By using adaptive technologies and predictive algorithms, we can personalize the educational experience of each student to meet them where they are in terms of skill level and academic ability.
What makes Epic stand out among all the education choices parents have?
The thing that makes EPIC stand out the most is the empowerment we provide our families. Whether it’s choosing from our extensive library of curriculum choices, tapping into the Learning Fund for equipment or extracurricular options (like ballet or horseback riding) or working at your own pace, the options really are endless. EPIC is unique in that we allow our students and families the option to tailor their educations to meet their needs and fit their lives.
Tell us more about the Learning Fund.
Upon enrollment, each student is provided a $1,000 virtual credit that they can spend on technology, core curriculum, supplemental curriculum and extracurricular activities. No money ever exchanges hands. Families choose from a list of approved vendors who bill EPIC in exchange for services provided. There is no other offering like the EPIC Learning Fund in any other public school system in the state and it has allowed a high level of freedom, flexibility and customization to each of our families.