Jo Marie Bolick's picture

Teacher Perspective: Connecting with Students

I’ve always had a love for math and for children which led me to pursue a teaching career. After graduating from Washburn University, I taught in the traditional classroom setting for four years while working to obtain a Master’s degree in Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction. At that point in my career I began teaching math online at Insight School of Kansas to students in grades 6-12.

My goal as a teacher has always been to connect with students. Helping students find success where they have been unsuccessful is one of the most rewarding sides of teaching.

I’ve found that so often students are allowed to slip through the cracks in traditional learning environments simply because educators are unable to connect with them in ways that allow teachers to understand their student’s individual learning needs. In the online model, I can foster relationships with students and showcase their strengths, while working to develop their academic and social skills. I have often found that many students have limited success with socialization in the traditional brick-and-mortar school setting, yet thrive in an online environment that eases social pressures and allows them to develop these important skills at their own pace.

Since becoming a teacher at Insight School of Kansas, I have become more and more inspired to advocate for the online teacher profession and the innovative learning structure. It’s important for the public to hear teacher perspectives on how we are providing an education in ways that can make an impact, regardless of a student’s previous experience.

It’s frustrating to me at times to hear people discount online schooling when, in fact, online learning doesn’t mean easier or less rigorous - it’s the exact opposite!  Students benefit from a structure built for tailored learning and have the support personalized instruction from passionate educators wanting to put students first.

Ashley Collier's picture

Utah Virtual Academy Exceeds 3rd Grade Reading Goal


This week Utah Virtual Academy (UTVA) announced that it exceeded its third-grade reading goal for the 2014-15 school year. 

The Utah State Office of Education conducted an analysis of third grade reading competency data and concluded that UTVA achieved an 82.8 percent target -- outperforming its school-level target by over 18 percent.

In a letter to school the Utah State Office of Education stated, "Utah Virtual Academy has achieved their uniform growth goal target for the 2014-15 school year. Congratulations on making progress towards increasing the percentage of third grade students achieving competency in reading."

The goal is notable given the state had set a uniform growth target for UTVA at 64 percent for 2014-15. Additionally, research indicates that students who are unable to read by third grade are more likely to fall behind, rarely able to catch up, and are at higher risk of dropping out of school. In recent years many states have put emphasis on improving reading outcomes for young learners.

Stacey Hutchings, UTVA Head of School, said, "We are very proud of this accomplishment. Educators know that reading is the foundation of learning. Ensuring that third grade students are proficient in reading is critically important, and I'm so proud of our teachers, staff and committed parents who are working so hard towards this goal."

Jennifer Schultze's picture

Teacher Perspective: Back to School at Wyoming Virtual Academy

Today marks the first day of school for the 2015-2016 school year at Wyoming Virtual Academy (WYVA). WYVA is a program of the Niobrara County School District #1 and is open to students in grades K through 12. I have proudly been an online teacher for all of the six years that WYVA has been available in the state.

I come from a long line of teachers and know the effect that they have on young lives. My grandfather was a math teacher who was dedicated to struggling students. He took me under his wing and influenced my decision to become a teacher.

I am currently a music teacher at WYVA, and while it may seem challenging to teach the subject over the internet there are many fundamental similarities. As a teacher I see the same kids, same hearts, and same stories – the online setting doesn’t change those basic facts. I have become a stronger instructor and better at engaging students while teaching at WYVA because of the online environment, not despite it.

Many of the students I teach are struggling because of personal or home-life issues. Last year, there was a student that struggled to complete quizzes and I learned that the student had difficulty reading. We met regularly one-on-one and I soon discovered that the student was an auditory learner and had a great passion and aptitude for music. One of the elements I enjoy most about teaching online at WYVA is the ability to meet with students and provide individualized instruction.

Ashley Collier's picture

K12 Back to School Highlights: Louisiana, Arizona, and Georgia

Back to school season is upon us and many K12 families across the nation are logging in to start the school year at their online schools of choice.

Over the next few weeks we will spotlight schools that are gearing up for the start of school.


Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA) families went back to school on August 10th.  In its fifth year of operation, LAVCA currently serves students in grades K-12. By combining individualized online instruction, hands-on curriculum and the support of highly qualified and state-certified Louisiana teachers, LAVCA helps students discover their individual learning style.

LAVCA Head of School, Dr. Perry Daniels says, "The start of the school year is always an exciting time and we are looking forward to welcoming both our new and our returning families to school year 2015. Our administrative and teaching staff is committed to the success of every child in the program."

Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) is preparing for the start of school by continuing to work with families to provide a complete education that is tailored to individual needs so every student can succeed.

In May, AZVA was given a high "B" school grade under the Arizona accountability system after improving its marks in a number of areas and achieving a high persistence rate among charter schools and other online instructional programs.  The school, which serves a higher population of low-income students than the state average, has also been credited for reducing the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students.

K12 Inc.'s picture

Weekly Roundup: Back to school

Arkansas student attend school via virtual academy

Parents have choices regarding where their children go to school, but what about skipping school altogether and going the virtual route? It's now possible in Arkansas for a student to go from kindergarten through high school and never set foot in a traditional classroom. 

As of this year, the Arkansas Virtual Academy is allowing students to attend school via the web from kindergarten through 11th grade of high school. After the next school year, students will be able to complete 12th grade and graduate from high school, allowing future students to possibly never experience traditional classrooms.

Is virtual school a good match for your child?

Joshua McMurtry was a strong student, receiving high marks from his elementary school teachers. But the Milwaukee fourth-grader still didn't feel confident academically, expressing concern to his parents that he was uncertain about what he was getting out of school.

After researching various options and talking with family and friends, Joshua's mom, Cheryl, decided to enroll him in the Wisconsin Virtual Academy, a full-time, tuition-free online public charter school for grades K-12 open to students statewide.

"It was the best decision for him and for us. During his middle school years, we wanted to ensure that he was getting what he needed," said Cheryl McMurtry.

Arizona Virtual Academy Students Log On to Start School Year
Press Release

The Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) is ready for its first day of school.  After raising its overall school grade with the state, the online public charter school says it is eager build on its success.

K12 Inc.'s picture

Weekly Roundup: Supporting Online K-12 Teachers, Elite Performers using Online Learning, and Celebrating School Choice

K12 Inc. Partners with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching to Develop Teacher Evaluation Rubric and Handbook for Online Learning
Press Release

In partnership with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), K12 has developed a researched-based rubric to serve as the basis for evaluation, coaching, and teacher development in K12's online learning environments.

Elite Performers and Athletes in School Use Online Learning on Path to Success
Learning Liftoff

Elite performers and athletes in school discover that online learning is the solution for meeting both their academic and professional goals. K12 provides the ability to study while practicing, hundreds— even thousands—of miles from home. That flexibility of schedule presents opportunities that traditional schools simply can’t match.

“Doing all that traveling would be very difficult at a ‘regular’ school that was not over-the-top flexible,” says Tom Aney, whose daughter Jessie is a nationally ranked tennis player.

Teen dancer/author/scholar never misses a step
The Bakersfield Californian

With a 4.0-plus grade point average, a packed dance schedule and a fantasy book trilogy in the works, calling Kristyn Van Cleave “busy” might be an understatement.

The 16-year-old is about to start her senior year through the online California Virtual Academy, where she takes honors and advanced placement classes. Next spring she’ll graduate after just three years of high school. Last month, Van Cleave’s academic achievements caught the attention of the National Society of High School Scholars, which she was invited to join to have access to a number of scholarships.

Margaret Jorgensen's picture

Partnering with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching to Support Online K-12 Teachers

We are proud to announce that K12 Inc. and the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) have partnered to develop a teaching evaluation rubric and handbook for online learning.

The rubric represents a single common teacher evaluation system for online K-12 teachers to ground online teacher effectiveness in a strong foundation of research and experience.

The partnership and rubric are examples of how K12 is leading the field of online teaching, and symbolic of our continued commitment to supporting educators in online and blended learning environments.

The research-based rubric will serve as the basis for evaluation, coaching, and teacher development in K12’s online learning environment. The K12-NIET rubric is currently being piloted for the 2015-2016 school year in many K12-partner schools across the country.

NIET’s Senior Vice President of Services and Partnerships, Kevin Guitterrez stated that “the partnership with K12 on this effort allowed us to work on creating an exemplary rubric for K-12 educators in the online setting.“

NIET researchers held focus groups, observed teachers at work, conducted detailed interviews, and paid special attention to teacher practices and behaviors. In partnership with K12, NIET worked to develop a rubric that was field-tested and underwent multiple iterations to ensure it was applicable to the teachers in the field.

K12 Inc.'s picture

Weekly Roundup: Student advocacy, Back to School, and a “SportsKid”

Weekly Roundup showcases stories and information about the students and schools we serve, K12 educators, and important education issues.

Union County school board approves K12 Inc. pact
Knoxville News Sentinel

The Tennessee Virtual Academy took another step toward being ready for the upcoming school year. On Thursday, the Union County school board voted to continue its contract with K12 Inc., which provides the curriculum for the virtual school.

Cottage Grove teen lobbies for those with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
South Washington County Bulletin

Recent high school graduate Gary Riege is a science and math whiz. He’s also a Star Wars fanatic, avid computer science techie and Advanced Placement student. He’s soft spoken, but he has big ideas, especially when it comes to bringing awareness to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and the need for more educational opportunities.

“I needed special education but (the district) always fought us on almost everything we asked for,” he said. “They wouldn’t follow my (individual education plan), and other times they wouldn’t add things. And when they would modify it they would remove all of my supports.”

Frustrated with the inability to partake in courses he knew he would excel in, Riege enrolled in the Minnesota Virtual Academy. He soon began taking Advanced Placement classes, delved deeper into the mechanics of computer science and got a confidence boost from supportive teachers that he said helped “big time.”

Class Acts: From the Cover of SI kids to a College Scholarship
Learning Liftoff

Few teen athletes have been more celebrated than Jessie Aney. In 2010, Aney was named Sports Illustrated’s “SportsKid” of the Year for her excellence in tennis and ice hockey. Now, after establishing herself as one of the nation’s leading young tennis players, Jessie will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full tennis scholarship.

A graduate of Minnesota Virtual Academy, this 2015 Class Act student completed her high school course requirements in just three years, enabling her to focus on her unique abilities.

K12 Inc.'s picture

Weekly Roundup - 7.10.15

Weekly Roundup showcases stories and information about the students and schools we serve, K12 educators, and important education issues.

K12 Inc. Reports Improved Outcomes at Minnesota Virtual Academy
Press Release

K12 Inc. released a new report showing that Minnesota Virtual Academy (MNVA) – a statewide online public school serving students in kindergarten through high school --  raised its academic outcomes in Reading and Mathematics, while launching new teacher initiatives and improving its academic and school community programs.   

More Ohio students learning via online schools

More children than ever in Ohio are learning via online schools, a trend that local parents say is more the result of wanting more for their child than it is about their local school district. Increased popularity for this option has seen enrollments totals blossom from 44 such schools serving approximately 17,000 students in 2004 to 27 e-schools serving 39,044 students in the 2013-14 school year. That simultaneous decrease in the amount of schools and increase in enrollment has bolstered class ranks, leading to numerous Ohio e-learning institutions graduating their largest classes ever, including Ohio Virtual Academy, an accredited, full-time, online public community school that in June graduated 750 students, the largest graduating class in school history.

Utah Virtual Academy host Bring a Friend Event
The Spectrum

The Utah Virtual Academy hosts Bring a Friend Event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the St. GeorgeChildren’s Museum, 86 S. Main Street. Come to discover, play, and learn about the unique virtual educational environment. K12 and UTVA staff will be available to answer questions informally and distribute information packets.

Class Acts: Online Student with College Credit to Get Philosophical
Learning Liftoff

Given his affinity for computers, online learning proved the right fit for Matthew Bachman, a 2015 Nevada Virtual Academy (NVVA) graduate who has earned $7,000 in scholarships to attend Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio.

“I liked that [NVVA] was self-paced, allowing me plan my school around my life as opposed to planning my life around school,” Matthew said. “Online learning has the advantage of giving a student independence as well as one-on-one [learning] experience that may help in the future.

Mary Gifford's picture

Improved Outcomes at Minnesota Virtual Academy


We are excited to roll out our sixth report in the academic white paper series featuring Minnesota Virtual Academy (MNVA) – a statewide online public school serving students in kindergarten through high school.

The report highlights how MNVA has raised academic outcomes in Reading and Mathematics, while launching new teacher initiatives and improving academic and school community programs.

A full copy of the report can be read here.

Founded in 2002, MNVA has grown from a small online elementary school to serve middle and high school grades. MNVA is one of four schools within Minnesota’s Houston Public School district and, of those four, is the only school that is fully online.

Krin Abraham, Superintendent of Houston Public School, explains that MNVA has responded to school growth by “strategically implementing key practices and programs to improve student academic performance. From building a strong community across our school, to developing a concise school-wide academic plan, our focus remains on how best to serve our students.”

The report highlights that MNVA leadership meets annually with teachers and staff to review prior-year state testing data to develop a school-wide academic plan. In response to the 2017 annual yearly progress (AYP) target set by the Minnesota Department of Education, MNVA set a school-wide goal on improving student performance in Reading. Through dedicated efforts during the 2013-2014 year, MNVA met its school-wide goal.