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

HOPE

hope

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.

 

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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.

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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

 

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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.

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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.

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Uncategorized

Sharp Pencils and Struggling Students

By Dani Yanssens

I LOVE sharp pencils! They make me feel happy and energetic and I immediately want to create something! Every task seems more manageable when I have a sharp pencil in my hand. indexTo me, sharp pencils represent the beginning of the school year – a new start. A fresh perspective on what is to come. As a teacher, things like sharp pencils, decorating my classroom for the new school year and a new pack of lined paper all represent a wonderful time of year. I always loved school and couldn’t wait to get back, both as a student and a teacher. In my current profession I have been reminded often that there are many students who don’t feel the same way. Homework and tests do not come easily to everyone. Those kids who often fail in traditional courses and don’t have support or reassurance from those who are close to them can see school can be a horrific place. Students who struggle from learning disabilities, have never learned to read for comprehension or have missed so much school that they lag far behind their peers are frustrated in school and often feel like failures. To compound on their difficulties, they are often teased and criticized by other students, and unfortunately sometimes by teachers and family members. pencils1Most of our students struggled academically, socially or emotionally throughout their education before enrolling with us. They are not excited to be attending any school, ever. While doing some new teacher training recently, one of our current students Skyped in to talk to the teachers about online high school from a student’s perspective. He reminded us all of a valuable lesson when working with at-risk kids. He told us all that the biggest thing to remember when working with our online students, is to “be patient”. He said that school does not come easily to most of our students, they have a hard time “getting things” and used himself as an example. He thanked his current teachers for being patient with him and making him feel like an important part of our school. As you can imagine, many of us were brought to tears.Group of sharp pencils.

Be patient and kind with your at-risk students. They will learn, just not at the same rate as other kids. As a lover of sharp pencils, I sometimes forget that there are students who are not as excited to be in school as I am, but with the right kind of care and encouragement, maybe they will be next year.

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

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