Board Hears About Virtual Learning
Principals for the four Moore County high schools gave members of the Board of Education a glimpse at the future of learning Monday night.
The quartet offered a presentation on virtual school, a program in which students can take classes online. Through the program students have a broader range of class selections, and are able to work with students from across the state and the country.
"It (distance learning program) speaks to the direction the high schools are heading," said Robin Lea, principal of Union Pines High School.
The program is overseen by a distance learning adviser, who meets with students, registers students, reports student progress to parents, orders textbooks, works with online teachers, performs evaluations, and reports grades.
Pinecrest Principal Joel County said the program gives students an online means of communication through workspaces and blogs.
"It helps students to be better prepared for a 21st century world," County said.
Robin Liles, principal at Pinckney Academy, told the board about the Apex program, which allows middle and high school students to work at their own pace with the aid of a guide or facilitator.
"It makes a great learning tool for those students who need remediation or to gain a course offering in a short amount of time," Liles said.
Enrollment in the program increased to 120 students this year, up from 80 last year.
Flexibility is one of the main reasons students choose online classes. The other is increased class offerings.
Moore County students can enroll in online learning through four agencies.
North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) offers high school course credit to middle and high school students who want to complete core courses, advanced placement courses, honors courses, and/or credit recovery courses to complete the requirements of a high school diploma and to enhance their transcripts for college applications.
Learn and Earn Online (LEO) is a dual credit program that awards high school and college credit to students attending public schools in North Carolina.
UNC-Greensboro iSchool is an option for high school students starting to think about getting ahead of the game by taking college classes now. There is no cost to students for courses or textbooks.
Apex provides credit recovery courses so students can complete the requirements of a high school diploma.
"Students can take the class at any time of the day, and at varying levels -- classes that we don't offer at the high schools," said Lisa Ragland, lab facilitator and district learning coordinator.
One concern was when the classes were taken. Currently most of the students take the online courses during the regular school day. Whether or not students would be allowed to take classes outside of school is an issue Ragland said must be addressed in the future.
Among the positives for the program, Lea said, was the reduction of class size and the opportunity for students to be exposed to new learning styles.
"It seems they (students) are born knowing how to do it," Lea said of the online learning.
Lea also stressed the "desperate" need for a program facilitator on each campus. Those positions are in the school board's budget request to the county commissioners.
Enrollment in virtual classrooms is not limitless. Moore County must apply for spots in the program. Students are allowed to take a maximum of two online classes.
Online classes are available for middle school students as well. Those students can take the class, but the class grades don't count toward their overall grade-point average (GPA).
Board members praised the hard work of the teachers and the principals.
"I commend the teachers for giving the students a real taste of the 21st century," board member Bruce Cunningham said. "It opens up your profession."
The board also recognized several outstanding students for their academic achievements.
Mollie Richardson of North Moore High School was honored for receiving the Park Scholarship. Richardson was also among nine students honored for being a 2008 North Carolina Teaching Fellow. The others were Rakeem Taimar Chesney, Johnna Blake Nall, both of North Moore High School; Mariella Antionette Albright, Seth Maxfield Flagg, Diana Evelyn Rabstejnek and Tiffany Marie Wenerd, all of Pinecrest High School; and Joseph Lucas Arno and Samantha JoAnn Lane of Union Pines High School.
Those students are among 500 selected for the honor in North Carolina. The receive an annual $6,500 scholarship. Upon accepting the scholarship, they agree to teach four years in a North Carolina public school.
Several board members encouraged the students to come back to Moore County when they graduate.
The board also recognized Martha Ritter, of West Pine Middle School (certified staff); Gloria Downs, of Academy Heights Elementary School (support staff); and Leah Elliott, of Pinecrest High School (student), with monthly awards.
Ron Currie, of Southern Middle School, was honored as volunteer of the month.
Contact Tom Embrey at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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