Ashley Collier's picture

K12 Helps Launch New Online School in Michigan

Last week, The Board of Directors for the Insight School of Michigan in partnership with K12 Inc. announced the creation of a new online public charter school, Insight School of Michigan. The school will offer students in grades 6-12 an innovative education using engaging digital learning and individualized instruction.

To find out more information about Insight School of Michigan or to enroll, click here.

As a public school, Insight School of Michigan is open to all students in the state with an emphasis on serving academically at-risk students who have struggled in traditional school settings. The school’s instructional model and academic strategies will focus on putting every student on a path to earning their high school diploma.

“Insight School of Michigan is another example of how K12 is developing partnerships in communities to serve students, particularly those that are struggling in their education,” said Jennifer Sims, Vice President of School Services at K12. “Whether it be previously failing certain courses, missing school days, or feeling left behind, we are committed to providing individualized online learning options for those students seeking new school alternatives to help get them back on track.”

Certified Michigan teachers will provide instruction, guidance and support, and will interact regularly with students using innovative technology and web-based instruction. Teachers also provide small group instruction, remediation, and organize school activities, clubs, and events for students and families.

Insight School of Michigan is authorized by the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees, the state’s largest and most respected charter school authorizers.

"Every student in Michigan deserves access to a high quality education," said Cindy Schumacher, executive director of The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University. "CMU is excited to partner with Insight School of Michigan and to support their mission of helping students meet their individual potential."

Read the full release on Insight School of Michigan, here.
 

Source: Insight School of Michigan, (2014). Insight School of Michigan Approved to Open Fall 2014.

Mary Gifford's picture

Lessons from Texas: Parent Choice and Digital Learning

Last week, Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott announced the third plank of his education plan.  Abbott's plan calls for increasing access to online courses through the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN). The Texas Tribune calls the enrollment in this program "dismal" and Abbot acknowledges that after six years, only 2,400 part-time students are enrolled in the program. Students are currently limited to three online courses through the TxVSN, which equates to a maximum of 7,200 courses.

Let's compare the results of this meager program to the robust full-time online public schools in Texas which, during the same time period, have grown to serve approximately 12,000 full-time students, or 96,000 courses.

Mr. Abbot is quick to point out why TxVSN enrollments are so low: districts can deny students the opportunity to take courses and districts don't want to dedicate existing funds to providing online options for students. While districts' efforts to thwart parent choice are noted by Abbot, it’s worth pointing out how the state legislature has thrown three major roadblocks in front of parents wanting to choose full-time online public schools:

1)    The legislature imposed a moratorium on new full-time online public schools in 2013, in spite of enormous parent demand for these options.

2)    In 2009, the legislature added a prior-public school attendance requirement to any student who wants to attend a full-time online public school. This isn't just a little requirement - this is the most restrictive residency requirement in the country. Students must attend a Texas brick-and-mortar public school in the previous school year before they are eligible to attend an online public school. Given the economic development going on in Texas, thousands of new families who move to Texas for employment are restricted from enrolling their children in online public schools. 

3)    In 2009 the legislature added an attendance restriction for students whose parents are active duty members of the military. While other states, like Nevada, changed their laws to permit students from military families to seamlessly transfer from one online school to another when their parent's assignment changes, Texas instead created restrictions for military families.

Despite this, parents of Texas students found a way to overcome these challenges and enroll in a full-time online public school at a rate of 13 times more than enrollment in TxVSN courses.

Why do parents flock to full-time online public school options? Abbot hit on the most prevalent reason in his proposal: online education provides an opportunity to shift to a truly personalized education, rather than a system of courses based on seat time. Students in the Texas Online Preparatory School and Texas Virtual Academy benefit from individualized learning plans that give students and parents the exact type of personalization described in the proposal. 

Ashley Collier's picture

K12 Celebrates National Teacher Appreciation Week

This week, K12 celebrated National Teacher Appreciation Week with families across the nation, thanking the thousands of teachers that are educating students in K12 online and blended schools.

We shared with you some amazing profiles from just a few of the more than 5,000 online teachers in K12’s network of educators, including:

Through partnerships with schools and districts, K12 has created thousands of new jobs and opportunities for teachers across the U.S.  Today, more than 5,000 teachers are working in K12-partner schools – the largest network of K-12 online school teachers in the U.S. K12 teachers are a diverse group of certified, skilled and trained professionals, including general education teachers, special education teachers, lead teachers, subject-matter experts, world-language teachers, advisors, and counselors. 

Additionally this week, numerous K12 online school teachers received honors and awards for their service to students. Christian Kraus, a literature teacher at Georgia Cyber Academy , won the 2014 American Pioneer of Teaching Award from PublicSchoolOptions.org, a parent-led education advocacy organization. Several other teachers from K12-managed schools were honored as national runners-up, including Texas Virtual Academy's Priscilla Metting, Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy's Heather McFarland, and Hoosier Academies' Alissa Smith.  Other finalists from K12-managed schools included Mary Bellison with Utah Virtual Academy, Elizabeth Clark with Virginia Virtual Academy, and Tiffany Simmons with Colorado Preparatory Academy.

We also heard from K12 Chairman and CEO, Nate Davis, on how each and every day teachers at K12 and partner schools are making a difference for thousands of children across the country by giving them a chance at a quality education. Read his full blog on Teacher Appreciation Week, here.

"Just like so many successful leaders, entrepreneurs, humanitarians, world-class doctors and scientists, we are who we are because of the impact of many fantastic teachers during our childhood and young adult lives," said Nate Davis , Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of K12 Inc. "K12 is a company of educators and our teachers are the cornerstone of all that we do.  We honor our teachers for their service and commitment, and we thank them for making a difference for thousands of children across this country."

heather mcfarland's picture

K12 Teacher Profile: Heather McFarland

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and this week on thinkTANK12 we’ll be sharing some amazing profiles from a few of the more than 5,000 online teachers in K12’s network of educators. K12 teachers work in a variety of school models including full time online public and private schools, innovative blended school programs, and classrooms. In all of these school models, K12 teachers are delivering individualized learning opportunities to students. These K12 teachers are committed to serving the needs of every student.

Today, we hear from Heather McFarland of Louisiana Virtual Charter School. Heather was nominated with hundreds of teachers for the American Pioneer Teaching Award and was named one of four finalists in the national competition during Teacher Appreciation Week.

My name is Heather McFarland and I’m an online teacher at Louisiana Virtual Charter School. I teach World History and chose online teaching for the versatility with my family, but also because I was bitten by the online learning bug! Let me explain.

When I first became an online teacher I worried I would feel disconnected with my students, but as I began working with my student and  providing instruction in the online class room it became apparent that I was able to connect with them in significant and innovative ways.  I began to witness that the online model brought out another level of learning. For example, in my class we have student moderators -- students that participate in peer teaching and breakout rooms, allowing them to connect and interact with each other while teachers facilitate and provide instruction. This brought learning to a whole new level. With online learning I have seen a huge difference with my struggling students. If they are not mastering a subject matter, we can review those areas and work at their own pace so that they understand the material they missed. This is why I chose online learning. Students are not missing the gaps because and as an online teacher I am able to see those gaps and correct them.

At Louisiana Virtual Charter School it is our goal to make sure that we help each student fill in missing gaps. Every child is unique and deserves the best learning solution that works for them. Why limit them? This is why it is important in the online setting that we continue with the rigorous curriculum and teacher support for students and parents. Innovation is the key to continue the success of every student.

Cady Looper's picture

K12 Teacher Profile: Cady Looper

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and this week on thinkTANK12 we’ll be sharing some amazing profiles from a few of the more than 5,000 online teachers in K12’s network of educators. K12 teachers work in a variety of school models including full time online public and private schools, innovative blended school programs, and classrooms. In all of these school models, K12 teachers are delivering individualized learning opportunities to students. These K12 teachers are committed to serving the needs of every student.

Today, we hear from Cady Looper of Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy…

When I was in the 1st grade, I completed an assignment that said, “When I grow up I want to be”, and I answered Teacher. I fulfilled that dream in 2004 when I graduated from Oklahoma State University. I have been teaching various elementary grades for 10 years. Next year will be my 5th year with Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy (OVCA)!  My husband of 2 years, my dog and I live in Yukon, Oklahoma which is just outside of Oklahoma City. I love cook, read a good book, spend time outdoors, and watch my favorite TV shows! Also, my family loves to travel to Colorado in the summers every chance we get! Lastly, I love to teach. I especially love to teach reading.

Curiosity lead me to the position at OVCA. I was curious to see how teaching students in their own environments impacted their education.  Gaining valuable experience in many of my positions within the brick and mortar schools, I still wanted something more. OVCA has given me many opportunities to expand my knowledge of teaching. OVCA opened 5 years ago and has blossomed into a fully-functional school right before my eyes. I have been able to take part in developing and perfecting many of the policies and procedures that makes our school run efficiently. I do not feel I would have had those types of opportunities anywhere else. I believe that online teaching is the future of teaching. I am happy that I am a part of the beginning years in Oklahoma!

The most rewarding part of my day is building a lesson, teaching that lesson, and then the lesson helps a student grow with knowledge. Receiving kmails about how a struggling student mastered an objective because of a class connect I taught brightens my day and is a reminder of why I teach. Additionally, our school holds outings once a month and this is my chance to put a face to the little voice I hear on the phone or in class connects. It is still amazing to me the connections I am making or have made with students in the virtual world. 

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