communication, Education, high school, Hope, technology, Teen Mental Disorders, teenagers, Uncategorized



The presence, or absence, of this one word changes lives. So many students we talk to feel completely hopeless about their future. It is impossible for students to move forward in such a despondent state. As educators we have to take on the role of instilling hope in order to help at-risk learners push on and find success in their lives.

Gabby M. came to us with no hope. She was 18 and almost 2 full years behind in credits. She had dropped out of school, was depressed, overwhelmed and believing those who were telling her that getting her GED was her only option. Gabby’s cousin saw an ad on her Face Book page for My Virtual Academy and convinced her to give it a try.



Gabby found success right away by completing several of her English requirements quickly. That gave her hope that she could get through the rest of the courses. While Gabby has had ups and downs, she credits her teachers and advocate for their continued encouragement and support. Gabby is now only 4 classes away from graduating and is considering going into cosmetology or becoming a midwife.

Students who earn their high school diploma have so many more choices for their future, including more opportunities to be accepted into the military and attend college, as well as more job opportunities. We strive to give all of our students hope. Hope that their lives will improve and that they can achieve their dreams. My Virtual Academy shows them that there is help available. Our teachers and advocates understand that our students have many roadblocks and things do not come easily for them.


A parent contacted me yesterday asking if there was anything we could do for her 19 year old son who had dropped out of school in the 8th or 9th grade. Thankfully, Michigan laws have recently changed and he is eligible to attend high school for free through the age of 21. While attending our virtual high school he will be able to work at an accelerated pace and complete all of his classes. He will have his work ahead of him, but with the help of our online teachers and advocates, both he and his mother now have hope for his future.


Danielle Yanssens

My Virtual Academy


career ready, Education, technology, Teen Mental Disorders, teen moms, Uncategorized, virtual school

What is Personalized Learning?

Everyone is a genius.

Danielle Yanssens

Personalized Learning “refers to a diverse variety of educational programs, learning experiences, instructional approaches, and academic support strategies that are intended to address the distinct learning needs, interests, aspirations, or cultural backgrounds of individual students”, according to The Glossary of Education Reform by Great Schools Partnership. How does Back on Track, offer personalized learning?

When a student submits an inquiry online or calls the Back on Track office, we are able to offer them several different options to acquire their high school diploma. For students who have previously dropped out of high school and are 21 or older, we enroll them into Clintondale Virtual School, a credit recovery program which, for a small fee, allows adults to achieve their high school diploma. This appeals to adults who had considered getting their GED in the past, which limits their options for post-secondary education.

For those students who have previously dropped out of high school and are between the ages of 18 and 20, we suggest our tuition-free Step Up program where students work on one class at a time and are required to complete a minimum of one class per month, with the ability to work year round. This gives students the opportunity to work on completing their high school education at a faster rate than if they attending a full time high school. We have also found that for this population, students are able to find more success when focusing on just one course at a time, rather than the full six class course load.


Many students who are between the ages of 16 and 20 choose to attend one of our brick and mortar alternative education schools. This student population includes students that are teenage parents, potential dropouts, have been expelled from their traditional school, or have been court-ordered by the juvenile detention systems. Our alternative education locations offer various skilled trade courses where students can graduate with a certificate of completion to help them obtain employment right out of high school. While there is increased security at these locations, they are also staffed with caring employees who encourage students to complete their education and get on a better path for their future.

Parents with students in grades 6 through 12 will often contact us requesting information about our virtual school, My Virtual Academy. MVA partners with school districts throughout the state of Michigan, offering a fully online option for students. This appeals to a wide variety of students, including those looking to graduate early, students who struggle with mental or physical illness, teenage parents, students who do not feel safe in their traditional school due to bullying or students who have to work full time in order to help support their family.  We have students who are pursuing their passion, such as the theater or gymnastics, and choose online schooling to work around their schedules. Some parents even prefer their children attend a virtual school based on their cultural and religious beliefs.

In addition to the several different educational programs Back on Track offers to help meet the different learning needs of our students, we also offer a variety of learning experiences and instructional approaches. Our highly qualified, certified teachers ensure that the curriculum meets all Common Core Standards. Teachers have the ability to offer students different types of assessments based on their instructional needs, and offer in-person tutoring in addition to daily on-line tutoring. Students receive one-to-one instruction, with teachers contacting them a minimum of once per week, as well as participating in whole group activities in our weekly live sessions.

Untitled design (9)

While there are some obvious limitations to virtual and alternative learning, the many benefits often make Back on Track the best option for many students.

career ready, Education, mathematics, technology, Uncategorized, virtual school

The 3 Biggest Reasons YOU Should Care About Math

(And none of them are “because I said so”!)

By Nick Denault

The 3 Biggest Reasons YOU Should Care About Math (1)

♫ Money Money Money… MO-NEY! ♫

If that awesome pic of the Swedish Band ABBA didn’t grab your attention, the concept of money should!

Did you know that studies have shown, that students will ultimately earn around $2,000 more PER YEAR for EVERY B or higher they achieve in one of their high school math courses!  Warning – Math ahead

2,000 x 4 H.S. Math Courses x 30 years of working…. = $240,000

That’s almost a quarter of a million dollars MORE in your working lifetime!

Think about it!  In every career path – from a job at Subway to a career in Sports Management – think of the hardest jobs in that path!

A Subway employee lets the register do all the work but the manager is responsible for balancing that register, assigning employee hours to keep the business profitable, and managing the stock counts for the store!  And a manager makes significantly more money for these responsibilities!

Want a job in sports?  Well the receptionist in the sports management department of a professional organization makes significantly less than the executive in charge of salary cap!  They are responsible for plotting player salaries and bonuses to be within “legal limits” not just for the current year, but for YEARS down the road!  Check out this interview with the Arizona Diamondbacks MLB team AGM!

A.)  Do you believe everything you see/read?
B.)  Do you consider yourself a “good” problem solver?

In today’s society, with social media inundating us at every turn, it is easy to get lost in the information.  There was actually a petition going around for us to ban dihydrogen monoxide in America!  Could you imagine?!?  ….have you Googled those terms yet?  Well, in math we associate the prefix “di” to mean “two”.  Dialogue (two people), divert (two paths) etc.  We also associate the prefix “mono” with “one”.  Monologue (one person), monopoly (one owner), monocle (that cool one-piece glasses thing that goes over one eye) etc.  Even without a background in math, we should know the background of these prefixes.  Imagine being fooled on a larger more complicated question.  Are all vaccinations dangerous?  Will climate change hurt us and can we fix it?  Or imagine not knowing how to calculate things that are guaranteed to impact your daily life.  How do I calculate how much interest I am paying each month on my credit card?  If the government raises the “mils” in my city, how much more in property taxes will I pay each year?  How much will my next hourly paycheck be and how can I figure out the percentage of the taxes that are taken out each pay period?  How much do I have to make each week before taxes to pay my monthly bills after taxes?

“Four out of five dentists choose our toothpaste!”.  That’s seems incredible.  Do you know what percentage this is?  Do you know how many dentists were sampled?  Five?  Ten?  Three-Thousand?  I was in a classroom once in which 3 students shared the exact same birthday.  Does this mean 3 students in every classroom are likely to share the same birthday?  Why or why not?

You only have a couple of options in this life:  let people who understand how to manipulate numbers take advantage of you, learn how to work with numbers well enough to work with them yourself, or stop reading this and then stop caring and then go back to your video game….but this means you are in that first category…sorry.

Do you consider yourself a good problem solver?  Congratulations!  I do as well.  But make no mistake, there are smarter people than you and I out there in the world.  And they often like to create problems for everyone else.  We all look up to those we think are better at something than us.  Pro Athletes, Actors, Politicians, Artists…  They may be better than us because they are talented, but they have outworked everyone else they have met along the way.  And if we put all of our eggs in one of these baskets and knowing full well that 99.9% of the baskets do indeed break, we have no one to blame but ourselves for our failures. Do we not owe it to ourselves to be well educated?  There is nothing more frustrating than losing an important battle not because we are not smart, but we simply lack the education needed to show the world how smart we truly are.

Great news though!  Want to be a better problem solver?  Most of us are doing it already!  Having a great understanding of words allows us to get our point across better so reading and writing are critical.  Play video games or apps?  These are scientifically proven to be GREAT at boosting problem solving skills!  But video games don’t end the conversation.  Studies show that being above average with playing video games only helps your overall real world problem solving ability when paired with average or higher reading and math scores.  It is one half of a puzzle.  Education is the other half.  Games like Tetris allow you to problem solve in 2D and games like Portal allow this in 3D! (Tetris come from “tetra”, a prefix meaning “4”…4 squares in each shape).

Algebra is just problem solving.  And it’s like any job you will ever have.  Learn the rules, apply the rules to the problem in front of you, achieve the simplest solution possible that solves the problem.  Close your eyes and imagine football…it’s rules…the problem…either score or stop them from doing so.  Now replace it with 2x+3+6x=19.  The rules of Algebra never change.  The solution is right there for the taking.


Suffer now…happy later.  Choosing a career.

Many of us have heard, “Find a career you love doing, and you’ll never ‘work’ a day in your life”.  Although many of our careers – even if we are right where we want to be – will still require a great deal of “work” this quote helps us remember that we need to set up the life we want to live.  A quote that has stuck with me my whole life, is one that was given to me by my costuming professor when I was in college for Theatre.  (That’s right…a math teacher with a theatre degree as well!).  It was, “Quickly, Cheaply, Well-Done…Pick Two.”  It means that in life, there is no way to have it all.  You can apply this to simple examples and you can apply it to life.  How does math fit in?  Well we have already covered a little bit of the financial benefits, but think about the emerging industries in America.  Nearly every single one involves math!  Coding?  You have to take up through Calculus.  Engineering?  You really WILL need to know how far the tree is from an adjacent building and it’s angle of elevation.  Business Owner?  You have to know where the money is coming in, and where it is going out or more people will try to take it out.

If you do not want math to be a large part of your life, I can sympathize and understand.  But the better you are at math, the more of your financial future you will control.  If you do want math to be a part of your life because you either enjoy it, or you know how much it can benefit you down the road check out the website listed here.  Take a look at the highlighted sections?  Hard to deny the benefits, huh?  And all it takes to head in this direction is time and effort.  But we are all aware, that nothing in life worth doing….is easy.


Books, Education, technology, Uncategorized

Reach Endless Academic Dreams

book butterflies

The importance of reading has always been a great necessity since the beginning of time. Mankind originally created a means by which to communicate with one another in the form of print, most commonly known as Egyptian hieroglyphics.

In today’s society, children must be exposed to print in the earliest stages of life. Mothers reading to their unborn children set the precedence for the fundamental successes of educational development. Just think about the service we could provide to our children if everyone adapted to the idea of reading to their children even before they are born. It would be like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly!


We are very fond of Carl Sagan’s quote: “One of the greatest gifts adults can give – to their offspring and to their society – is to read to children.”

As educators, we understand the importance of reading to children of all ages. We believe that the more exposure a child has to reading at a young age, the more likely they are to enjoy it and become avid readers as adults. It’s become a new tradition for expecting parents to request that guests attending their baby shower bring a book instead of the traditional card to add to their baby’s bookshelf. We start to accumulate books even before our children are born. It’s never too early to start reading to our children and influence them to become readers themselves!ChildrenAt My Virtual Academy, reading is integrated cross-curricular throughout our students’ online education. Both our online high school and middle school students are actively engaged in various reading activities within our clubs, weekly live lessons, monthly thematic units, and our daily virtual lessons. It is our goal to instill the value of reading to our students on a daily basis.

book club

We encourage and challenge you to spread your wings and immerse yourself in the exciting world of literature!!

book butterflies

Education, technology, Uncategorized

Have a Fresh Perspective in the New Year and Keep it All Year Long!

Danielle Yanssens

My Virtual Academy is starting off the New Year at a new location. Everything is clean and new and open. There is fresh paint and many windows and enough space for everyone plus room to grow. We are encouraging everyone to be healthier in 2016, a bag of fruit was on their desks when they arrived back to work after the holidays and there is a workout room available to use on breaks. It is a new beginning for our virtual school, our staff and, most importantly our middle and high school students.

New space 3

Just like our staff, our students need a fresh start in the New Year. Our staff has set goals for themselves, and we want our students to do the same. Starting with small attainable goals, like “I will complete my classes by the end of the semester”, or “I will raise my scores by at least 10%”. If you are close to graduating – definitely make getting your high school diploma your ultimate goal for this year!

The most important thing to remember when setting goals is to put a plan into place to help you get there. For example, if your goal is to complete all of your classes by the end of the semester, print up a calendar and write down how much time you will spend each day and on which subjects. Put in place mini milestones, like “I will complete my English paper by this Friday”. If something happens and you don’t reach one of your goals, forgive yourself and then get back on track. Life can get in the way for all of us, but never give up on that final goal. And when you do reach that final goal – celebrate and then set a new goal! Life is about constantly changing, learning and growing. You may have setbacks, but you will get there!

fresh perspective

Danielle Yanssens is in charge of Continuous Improvement for My Virtual Academy. Her organization also offers On-site Alternative Education programs, several free online learning options and credit recovery for students throughout the state of Michigan.

coding, Education, technology

What is Coding?

coding picto

December 7th through the 13th was Computer Science Education Week, and all week My Virtual Academy encouraged both students and teachers to participate in an Hour of Code – Most people think to themselves “what is coding” and why is it so important?


Coding is being pushed by companies and educators because businesses know that there will be a huge shortage of computer science college graduates to fill the need we have, based on the amount of technology we are currently dependent on. Trends show that this need is only going to increase. Many educators and professionals believe that because technology is such an integral part of life, every student graduating from high school should at least have a basic knowledge of coding.


Just like anything new, students can be intimidated by coding. While coding can be difficult to learn, there are many programs available that have broken down “how to code” into manageable segments. Here are a few of the more popular tutorials from

Several of our students and even some teachers participated in the Coding challenge we gave them and here are just a few of their comments:

“These are great!”
“This is pretty cool! :-)”
“This is addictive!”

Our goal is for all of our students to graduate college and/or career ready. Most of our students are getting their education Back on Track, and we want that to continue beyond high school. There are so many Computer Science jobs available at so many levels, that we encourage all students to check out coding to see if it is something that may interest them.

Danielle Yanssens is in charge of Continuous Improvement for My Virtual Academy. Her organization also offers On-site Alternative Education programs, several free online learning options and credit recovery for students throughout the state of Michigan. Their goal is to help all students who have dropped out of school get Back on Track.