Educating Educators About Online Middle and High Schools

By Danielle Yanssens

Yes, I work for an online middle and high school. I am proud of the work that we do. Educators come up against a lot of criticism from those not in the education world. When educators start pointing fingers at each other they are doing a disservice to all students.

I am forever grateful to my public school teachers for giving me a love of learning, and the desire to teach. Developing programs for an online middle and high school certainly never entered my mind as a possible career when I was in school earning my teaching certificate. I kind of fell into this position, but now that I am here I realize what an amazing gift online learning is to so many students.

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We recently received a new student who needs six courses to graduate. Five of those six courses are English courses. According to his CA60 file he never received any testing to see if he was dealing with a learning disability. What happened to this student? We started to point fingers – the public school system failed, allowing him to fall through the cracks. How did he get through 4 years of high school without a teacher, mentor or administrator stopping to say, “Hey, this student is really struggling with English, he might need some accommodations.” But then we took a step back, because we don’t really know what happened. Maybe someone did suggest he be tested along the way, and the parents refused. More than likely the public school teachers had a class overflowing with students that struggled and they did their best to meet the needs of everyone. It simply wasn’t enough for this particular student.

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We are hoping that online education will be just the thing this student needs to pass his remaining courses and earn his diploma. As soon as I read through his folder, I was able to go to all three of his English teachers and let them know the situation. They immediately collaborated on ways they could work with him, one English course at a time, until he completed all five. Our dedicated staff is determined to help him find a way to graduate.


Parents have several options for their children’s education, many more options than ever before. Public brick and mortar schools, private schools, alternative education brick and mortar schools, homeschooling, and yes, even virtual school. Most parents choose public schooling, and most children successfully earn their high school diploma at their local public high school. Parents and students choose virtual school for a variety of reasons. Most, but not all, are students that would most likely drop out of their brick and mortar school and never receive their diploma. We use a personalized approach to help each student find success. We are not trying to lure students from their public school, we are simply trying to make sure they know that we are here if they need us.