The 2014-2015 school year marks the third year that The Virtual Academy of Lafourche has been operating in Lafourche Parish, providing quality, free education as a Type I Public Charter School.
When the school first started in the 2012-2013 school year, 109 students were enrolled. Now, after just a short period of time, the five locations have a total attendance of 454 students, with waiting lists in some locations.
The vision of the Virtual Academy, under the umbrella of the Lafourche Parish School System, is to provide high quality education online for all students, whether they are gifted, average or have special needs. Children who have previously been home schooled, attended public or private schools are all represented at The Virtual Academy.
Curriculum is rented through E-Learning, with three different programs available. The education consultants, with an average of twenty-eight years of teaching experience, and site managers are able to customize learning programs to best suit each student. This flexibility allows for maximum learning efficiency, as each student works at their own pace, only able to continue on after seventy-five percent mastery score has been achieved when testing.
Educators, as well as the Lafourche Parish School Board, realized the need for a charter school where students could find flexible learning options.Students are allowed to attend the Academy up to age twenty-two.
Students are required to attend their Virtual Academy location at least twice a week, working online at home on other days. They must also make at least 10 percent progress in each subject per month with a passing grade in order to remain in the program.
Progress reports are sent home once per month and weekly monitoring is documented by the education consultants.
Like all Lafourche Parish students, Virtual students are also required to take standardized tests: iLeap, Leap, EOY, and PARCC for third through eighth grade; Explore, Plan, EOC, and the ACT for high school students.
A unique partnership exists between the Lafourche Parish School Board and The Virtual Academy. Students at the Academy may attend their assigned traditional public school to take electives. Public school students may attend the Academy and take classes in Spanish, French, and German. Those who attend the Academy and wish to participate in sports may do so through middle school. Band, choir, proms and dances are other activities available for student participation.
All Virtual Academy students have access to counseling and tutoring. Enrichment programs such as art, guitar, piano, self-defense and “Bricks for Kids” are offered to students to enhance their learning experience. Learning trips are scheduled throughout the year to locations such as the zoo, aquarium, and The Bayou Playhouse Theatre in Lockport.
At the Harrison Street location, an actual business/learning experience has been set up for student participation. Students from all sites are welcomed to work making and packaging dog treats. This program is designed to teach real-life business skills. Orders are placed and delivery is made by an outside delivery service.
The director of the program, Julie Bourgeois, and the assistant director, Roxanne Reed, govern all five sites. The sites and managers are as follows: North Acadia, Nancy Toups; Harrison Street, Linda Dangerfield; Central, Mary Morris; South, Mary Reynaud; and Bayou Blue, Sharlene Duet.
Open enrollment for the 2015-2016 school year is from March 1 - 31. It is recommended that those interested in attending The Virtual Academy of Lafourche go to the site they plan on attending to pick up paperwork as soon as possible, as there are limited openings.
Visit the VAL website at valcharter.org for more information.
Posted on Fri, February 20, 2015
by Jan Conrad, Contributing Writer