Not that long ago, choosing wasn’t that easy for high school junior Fabian Simons. He was juggling going to school and a holding down a part-time job.
“I used to have a job at Water World,” Simons said. “I would have to go to school and not show up for work or go to work and not show up for school.”
So he decided to join other students in the Jefferson County School District at the Virtual Academy. A campus started 8 years ago, set up to give students a blended education and more flexibility with their course loads.
A campus headed by Dr. Leonard J. Brown, the district’s Director of Blended and Virtual Learning.
“This model of learning gives us more flexibility and ability to serve more students in an innovative way," Brown said. “Part of the instruction is in a traditional sense that face-to-face contact with a teacher…the other portion of instruction comes via digital, online format.”
A different way of learning made possible by funding from the state and through the iLearn Collaborative or iLC. A professional development program set up to provide teachers across the state with resources like technology and training.
Resources, iLC CEO Judy Perez feels is necessary to prepare students for the 21st Century workforce.
“They’re all over social media, their using technology in various different ways,” Perez said. “We’ve got to make sure that they are prepared in the workforce to be able to use technology to their advantage.”
But Simons says the Virtual Academy isn’t for everyone without the right motivation.
“If you’re a hard worker and you want good grades and you hope to have a future then you’re going to have to motivate yourself really to work hard through each class,” said Simons.
The iLC says for every teacher they train, 150 students are affected. Only seven districts of a possible 15 are receiving funding through the program.