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.

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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.


Education, history, Uncategorized, virtual school

Let’s Take a Trip through Time: Significant Historical Events

In our My Virtual Academy Social Studies curriculum, we offer a broad range of classes for our high school students that cover significant events, both past and present. Each of our Social Studies teachers wanted to share an event from their specific course that they feel is especially important for students to understand and investigate further.

Industrial Revolution

-Mr. Jacob

ScottIn history there are many significant events that have shaped our world into what it is today.  Revolution, when bellowed, is a word that invokes a sense of uprising or call to action for many people.  The word has many meanings but has been used most synonymous with the overthrow of an organization or governing body.  The Industrial Revolution, however, is different from the typical revolution; it is more about significant change than it is an immediate correction that is fueled by politics.  For tens of thousands of years humans hunted, gathered, farmed and made products by hand; they used very few tools to accomplish these tasks.  The Industrial Revolution was a major shift in how we made everyday products.  By mechanizing we were able to mass produce items like clothing, furniture, tools and automobiles.  In about 200,000 years’ time modern man had not seen massive change, until the Industrial Revolution.  In the span of the last 200 years we went from horse riding for transportation to using rocket ships to go to our moon; it’s quite amazing.

The Civil War   

By: Mr. Thomas


Is the United States one nation, indivisible or is the United States a collection of linked but separate states?

The Civil War was the most deadly and arguably the most important event in the nation’s history. There are fews events in American history that has changed our country like the Civil War. The Civil War was fought from 1860-1865, but there was sectional tension building up from as early as 1857. Slavery was the root cause; however the tension spanned across America socially, politically, philosophically, and economically. Some historians may argue that everything leading up to the Civil War was caused by the Civil War and everything after was caused by the Civil War. Almost every part of American society was fundamentally changed. Americans killed Americans until the death toll reached 600,000 people about 2% of the nation’s population at the time. The war changed the way the Americans viewed their own nation and it answered many of the fundamental questions that Americans had at the time: free or slave, one or many, united or divided.

Why did the U.S. get involved in World War I?

-Mr. Parmentier

For the most part, the United States did everything in their power to stay out of the fighting in Europe when war broke out in 1914. Most in the U.S. didn’t feel the need to risk American lives for a war that was so far away from us and, in theory, didn’t cause us much concern. European countries were fighting for political and military positioning; an issue the U.S. didn’t want to interfere in due to our business and military alliances with both sides. Despite an attempt to block our trade, and the sinking of the Lusitania, which killed 128 Americans, we remained neutral. However, our position would change in January 1917 when we received word that Germany had sent a letter to Mexico promising to help them invade the U.S. once they were victorious in Europe. Upon receiving the ‘Zimmerman Note’, the U.S. and its citizens were in full support of going to war. The U.S. would help the Triple Entente defeat Germany and it’s Triple Alliance, thus, laying the foundations for WWII in the 1940s. Here is a copy of the actual note sent from Germany to Mexico.



Mrs. Olind: 2013 Government Shutdown  


According to the Constitution, the responsibility for funding the government (passing the budget and paying the bills) falls on Congress. If it doesn’t perform this function, different government-run places and processes, including passport requests, issuing checks to government employees (Congress not included), and mowing the lawn and changing the trash at national parks and monuments, stop. In 2013, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) had been a source of conflict between Republicans and Democrats in the government, and Congress was fighting about whether or not to continue Obamacare and fund the programs within it. As a result, the Senate and the House did not pass the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund normal government programs past September 30, 2013 (the end of their budget year); because of this, the Federal Government partially shutdown, meaning that essential government functions (mail, payment to the military, etc.) continued, but others stopped. The shutdown lasted 16 days, and 800,000 federal employees were furloughed, meaning they didn’t receive a paycheck during this period. On October 16th, 2013 Congress finally passed the CR to start things back up again, but the shutdown cost the economy 24 billion dollars when all was said and done.

More information aimed at high school students: Dogo News: Fodder for Young Minds

(Material drawn from and

The Roaring ‘20s

 – Thomas Stedman

            In the decade following the conclusion of The Great War, America experienced a time of unprecedented success and prosperity.  By contributing to an Allied victory in WWI, America proved that it belonged as a world superpower, used its newfound success to make important financial, cultural and political contributions that can still be seen today.

Improvements in technology opened the door for new jobs in manufacturing which raised wages and created a middle class.  With more time and money, Americans were able to spend their income on recreational items such as automobiles, radios, and movie tickets.  Despite a federal ban on the production, transportation and sale of alcohol, jazz clubs and speakeasies thrived.  The passing of the 19th amendment allowed women to vote for the first time, altering the traditional views that Americans had on the role of women in society.


Image Courtesy of “Woodward Avenue in 1917”

            Although the “roaring twenties” are often remembered in a positive light, there were a lot of growing pains and racial tension during the era as well.  The resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan intimidated and negatively affected the lives of immigrants and African-Americans.  The spending and extravagance of the decade came to a screeching halt with the bank failure of 1929, leading to the Great Depression.

The ‘20s are a fascinating look into the imagination, willpower and creativity of the American people.  Within the span of 10 years, the country had completely changed the status-quo and paved the way for even more radical changes in the way of life after World War II.

Education, Uncategorized, virtual school, women in science

When I say the word Scientist, what do you picture in your mind?

The science department here at My Virtual Academy posed this question to our online high school students. We asked our students to draw a picture of what they think a scientist looks like. Not surprisingly, most students drew a white male, with crazy hair and wearing a lab coat. Basically, a drawing of Albert Einstein.  Most people, not just our virtual high school students, tend to assume that all scientists are white and male. Few people cannot name a famous woman scientist. That is because we, as a society, fail to tell stories about women in science.  We reinforce the impression that few women have patented inventions, derived important mathematical equations, or contributed to scientific discoveries in any way. This lack of recognizing visible female role models can discourage young women from pursuing a career in science.

scientist 1    scientist 2     scientist 3

This month, the Science department at My Virtual Academy has decided to spotlight women in science. We believe it is important to show our students, especially our female students, that a career in science is an option for them after they receive their high school diploma. By spotlighting women in science, we hope to peak the interest of our female students and inspire them to think about a career in science.

 ~Mrs. Goodman (Chemistry, Biology & Physical Science Teacher) would like to recognize:

Mae Carol Jemison : Chemical Engineer, Physician, Astronaut

 goodman science

Mae Carol Jemison received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Stanford University in 1977 and a doctorate degree in medicine from Cornell University in 1981. She has a background in both engineering and medical research.

Dr. Jemison joined NASA’s astronaut training program in 1986 and was the first African American woman to travel to space in the Space Shuttle Endeavor on September 12, 1992. During her eight days in space, she conducted experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness on the crew and herself. In all, she spent more than 190 hours in space before returning to Earth on September 20, 1992.

After leaving the astronaut corps in March 1993, Dr. Jemison accepted a teaching fellowship at Dartmouth.

~Mrs. McCoy (Biology, Marine Biology MVA Teacher) would like to recognize:

Hedy Lamarr: Co-Inventor of Spread Spectrum Technology

mccoy scientist

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could live without my cell phone!  If you feel the same way, take a moment and say “THANK YOU, HEDY LAMARR!”.   Back in the 1940’s, Hedy and co-inventor George Antheil received the patent for a “Secret Communications System”.  It was an anti-jamming device used in radio-controlled torpedoes by using something called frequency hopping.  In the most basic way to explain it, if someone had encoded a message in frequency waves, only someone with a receiver could decode it because the message would be “hopping” all over the place.  But what also happen is that it could be buried in multiple messages much like we use cell phones, etc.

While her invention was not used during WWII, it was used on blockade ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  When the rest of the world caught up to Hedy’s invention, it was used everywhere from military communications, GPS, faxes, any and all wireless communications including cell phones and so much more.  Because of the importance of her invention of “Spread Spectrum Technology”, she finally received recognition for the “beauty” of her invention in 1997 when she and George Antheil were awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award.  Later in 1997, Hedy Lamarr was the first woman to receive the BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award (the equivalent of winning an “Oscar” for inventing).

While Hedy Lamarr has since passed at the age of 86, her life is now celebrated and the history of technology is giving her the much earned recognition that she deserved.  It is with a sigh of relief that we can all enjoy the fact that this great inventor was able to live long enough to see her hard work be utilized as she envisioned AND receive the accolades that she so deserved.

~Mrs. Premcevic (Biology and Earth Space Science MVA Teacher) would like to recognize:

Sara Volz, 20 (MIT Chemistry Major, co-author of two papers on CRISPR)

premcevic scientist

At the young age of just 17, Sara Volz invented a process that increases the amount of biofuel produced by algae to win the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search. Sara claimed the $100,000 grand prize with her project, which uses artificial selection to pinpoint which organisms are churning out the most fuel. This new method not only helps to bring down the overall cost of algae biofuel, but it was developed primarily in her bedroom under a lofted bed! In 2014, Sara along with her professor and a PhD student, discovered how to turn one specific protein on and off in a cell which in turn, can one day help cure diseases. Sara is currently at MIT researching genome editing using a tool called CRISPR. CRISPR is like scissors for DNA that cut out bad genes and replace with good ones. Sara’s work demonstrates how a young woman who is fascinated by science can have a real impact on society.

~Mr. Hardy (Chemistry and Math MVA Teacher) would like to recognize:

Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski- Currently earning her PhD at Harvard in Physics)

hardy scientist

She’s been called “the next Einstein” by her professor at Harvard University, but her name is Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski. Born June 3, 1993, she is a former MIT graduate, and current PhD candidate at Harvard University.

At the early age of 5, Sabrina Pasterski made the decision that she would like to one day build spacecraft. At age 9, she began learning how to fly airplanes, flew her first solo flight in Canada in 2007. By age 12, she had begun building her own airplane in her garage at home in Chicago, IL. Sabrina Pasterski graduated from the Illinois Mathematics & Science Academy at age 17. She completed her undergraduate degree at MIT in just 3 short years with the highest GPA possible. Today, Sabrina Pasterski is in her final year at Harvard, where she will earn a PhD in Physics. Her work in Physics involves mass and radiation of particles, and using quantum fields to advance the current understanding of black holes and gravity. Her work has been cited by Stephen Hawking. At age 22, Sabrina Pasterski has job offers from the likes of aerospace company Blue Origin (founded by Jeff Bezos of, and NASA. Her career will be an intriguing one to follow, as she may very well be the one whose life work eventually takes mankind beyond our solar system out to the far reaches of the universe. Sabrina Pasterski has her own website ( where she posts information about her interests and her work.

~Mr. Fouladbash (Chemistry and IPC MVA Teacher) would like to recognize:

Dr. Jennifer Dounda: Professor of Chemistry and Cell Biology

joe scientist

Jennifer Dounda is an American Scientist and a renowned professor of chemistry and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley.  Since the early 90’s, Jennifer Dounda has been making progress in trying to technologically manipulate human DNA in order to remove disease from the human genome.  Within her work, she created CRISPR – way of performing a so called ‘Genome Surgery’ – in order to perfect the DNA of an organism.  This method was recently used in a set of subject animals (female macaque monkey twins) and have proved successful in gene manipulation.  This work by Jennifer Dounda and her CRISPR technique shows great promise for the future, for if we can change the code by which we are built, we can program the human body for perfection!