DeKalb Board of Education to expand, revamp county’s virtual school program
July 14, 2017 Share

DeKalb Board of Education to expand, revamp county’s virtual school program

PHOTO: The new physical location for DeKalb County School’s Virtual Academy (DVA), located off of Highway 75, between the Northeast Alabama Agri-Business Center and Hilltop Gas Station. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

Contributed by the DeKalb County Board of Education

RAINSVILLE, Ala. — DeKalb County School Superintendent Dr. Jason Barnett has announced the expansion and revamping of DeKalb County’s virtual school program for area students. It also takes on a new name, DeKalb Virtual Academy (DVA).

Dr. Barnett stated: “This is a program that was first implemented in the 2016-2017 school year. As we evaluated our current programs, we observed some areas in which we could improve our virtual program. As one would expect, with beginning any new program, we faced many challenges and learned from the mistakes we made. In an effort to improve what we are doing, we decided it was imperative that we improve our student support system, provide more adequate equipment and facilities in which to house the program, and offer a more thorough curriculum in which we can support and challenge our students based on their individualized needs and goals.”

Barnett continues, “The curriculum and supports we offer at DVA are truly designed to support students in reaching their educational potential and personal goals. Students are offered many ways they can participate in the virtual program. There is a hybrid model, whereby students can take courses at their traditional school part of the day and use the virtual program as a tool or means to specialize their learning through an online curriculum. Students can also take their core coursework via the virtual program while attending the technical school to receive workforce training. Furthermore, some students choose this as a means of quality schooling in which they can do at home in order to receive a quality individualized public education and meet the needs of their family.”

The DeKalb Virtual Academy will have multiple supports to ensure student success. Barnett says, “The DeKalb County Schools has a district supervisor, Tony Bell, who, among other district duties, is assigned to lead the DeKalb Virtual Academy through the enrollment, curriculum and support system. We also have a lead teacher, Mr. Jon Alan Pope, who manages the day-to-day operations and ensures that students stay on track and receive the support they personally need to be successful. We also utilize DeKalb County teachers to provide a direct line of support to these students so they have an avenue to get extra supports and encouragement as needed. While the program is online, one feature we added is a physical location at 1724 McCurdy Avenue North, Rainsville, whereby during the school year students can visit Monday-Friday 8:00-3:00 to receive in-person support from a highly-qualified teacher. While much of the learning takes place online, it is vital to provide a mechanism by which we can intervene and reinforce a student’s learning as needed.”

While students residing in any county throughout the state of Alabama are eligible to enroll full-time in the DeKalb Virtual Academy, Barnett suggested that he really views this as an opportunity to more fully serve the families of DeKalb County.  Many home-school families have been utilizing virtual school options in recent years as it allows them the same flexibility as home-schooling, but in a free public education setting that meets the rigorous standards of a public education. Students who graduate from the DVA will receive a DeKalb County Diploma.

Tony Bell, DeKalb County Supervisor said, “I am really excited for the opportunity that the students will have in the DeKalb Virtual Academy.  I think that this program will provide an alternative for the students who are not currently participating in public schools.  Also, DVA will allow current students the opportunity to take courses that may not be offered at their school.  DVA will provide flexibility in scheduling for students and parents.  I look forward to working with all the students and teachers in the DeKalb Virtual Academy.”

When asked about the day-to-day operations, lead teacher Jon Alan Pope iterated, “Our new location will better allow us to provide students the opportunity and support they may need while working toward completing their courses at their own pace.”

As a public school and a division of the DeKalb County School system, DeKalb Virtual Academy is tuition-free for students in grades 6-12, currently, with options to expand in the future. Students graduating from DeKalb Virtual Academy will earn an Alabama High School Diploma.

If you wish to learn more about this program you can contact Mr. Tony Bell at 256-899-9860. Applications for DVA can be found at www.dekalbk12.org.

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