Ashley Collier's picture

K12 Welcomes Joel Medley, North Carolina Virtual Academy’s Head of School

North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA), a new K-12 online public charter school, named Joel Medley as Head of School. Joel, a life-long educator and award-winning teacher, school administrator, and state education official sat down for a Q&A about his background and the new role


Tell us about your experience prior to accepting the role as NCVA’s Head of School, and any notables you want to share.

Joel Medley: I’m the son of a high school dropout.  I came home from basketball practice and sat at the kitchen table working on my homework while also helping my dad study for his G.E.D.  When he walked across the stage and received that G.E.D., I knew education was where I wanted to go.  I was only the third person in my immediate family to graduate from high school and the first to graduate from a four year university (and complete graduate degrees).  I taught social studies at a charter school, served as an administrator in both charter and traditional schools, and served in both the North Carolina and South Carolina departments of education working with charter schools.  As far as awards, here are a few:

  • 2001 NC Character Educator of the Year for High School
  • 2010 SC Charter Friend of the Year
  • 2010 Inez M. Tennenbaum Award from the School Leadership Executive Institute at the SC Department of Education
  • October 30, 2011 “Tarheel of the Week” by the Raleigh News and Observer 

What made you decide to move from your pervious role as Director of Charter Schools back into school administration?

JM: While serving as the Director of the NC Office of Charter Schools, I had the ability to see the different instructional methodologies based upon their adopted missions.  Those nuances were making a positive difference for the students and families that chose to attend the charter schools.  Such observation allowed me to broaden my educational perspective and fostered a desire to return to the school level.  Previous opportunities presented themselves, but I wanted to find the right fit.  I inquired as to whether the position was still available and then went through the process to explore the possibility.  When the offer was made, our family decided to jump at the opportunity for something so unique for North Carolina. 

Why are educational options like NCVA good for North Carolina?

JM: Simple – because they make a difference for children.  One of the guiding principles of K12 is to “teach the individual not the group.”  If children are our focus, then we need to develop and implement options that meet them where they are and take them to where they want to be.  For instance, when we go to a clothing store, we select the style, color, and size that we want and that fit our need.  NCVA is offering parents a different style, color, or size that meets their needs. 

Mary Gifford's picture

New Report Shows K12 Partner Schools are Closing the Achievement Gap Among Low-Income Students

This week K12 released a new report in a white paper series, titled Closing the Achievement Gap at Three Virtual Academies. The report highlights three of K12’s largest online charter schools – Texas Virtual Academy (TXVA), Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA), and Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) – that are making progress on closing the achievement gap among low-income students.

The report emphasizes that while K12’s network of schools are enrolling higher percentages of economically disadvantaged students than national averages, many schools are successfully closing the achievement gap.

Key findings include:

Texas Virtual Academy: In Reading, comparing TXVA students enrolled 3 years or more to those enrolled less than 1 year, proficiency percentages increased with longer enrollment for Free Lunch Eligible students by 20 percentage points, for Reduce-Price Lunch by 18 percentage points, and for Not Eligible by 15 percentage points.

Notable at TXVA is the impressive improvement in Mathematics for each category of students enrolled 3 years or more, with 74% of students eligible for Free Lunch reaching proficiency, 81% of students eligible for Reduced-Price Lunch reaching proficiency, and 94% of students Not Eligible for subsidized meals reaching proficiency. 

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Weekly Roundup - 6.5.15

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

Insight School of Minnesota to Graduate Class of 2015
More than 50 students will receive their high school diploma from ISMN this year. ISMN is an education option available to students of every ability level, but possesses a competency in helping students who are struggling academically. Graduates are expected to pursue higher education at institutions including Minnesota State University –Mankato, Hamline University, Alexandria Technical College and St. Cloud State University.

Ohio Virtual Academy to Graduate Largest Class in School History
Nearly 750 students will graduate from OHVA on June 6 in Columbus. The Ohio Virtual Academy Class of 2015 earned a combined total of more than $2.1 million in college scholarship. Graduates are expected to attend some of the most prestigious institutions in the state and the country, including Case Western Reserve University, Florida State andOhio State University.  

Minnesota Virtual Academy to Celebrate Class of 2015 Graduation
This year, more than 115 students will receive their high school diplomas from MNVA, which is an education option available to all Minnesota students. Of this year's graduates, 25 will be recognized as honor students, having maintained a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Two students will be honored as valedictorians, both having achieved 4.0 GPAs. Seven of MNVA's graduating seniors are members of the National Honor Society.

Online School Students from California Virtual Academy @ San Diego Meet Face to Face for Graduation Ceremony June 8
Nearly 250 students are expected to graduate in the California Virtual Academy@ San Diego class of 2015. Many of the students attending the graduation ceremony will be meeting each other for the first time outside of their virtual classrooms.
Graduates will be attending universities and colleges across the country and state including Grand Canyon University, Brigham Young University-Idaho, San Francisco State University, Culinary Arts institute, University of California, San Diego, Grossmont College, University of Utah, California State University, Long Beach, Oklahoma State University, Ohio State University, and George Washington University.

Margaret Jorgensen's picture

Celebrating ISAZ and AZVA Graduates

Last week I had the honor of speaking at two K12-partner school high school graduation ceremonies: Insight Academy of Arizona (ISAZ) on Wednesday, May 27 and Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) on Thursday, May 28.

Both ceremonies were filled will families from across the state of Arizona and represented a significant accomplishment of each school’s senior classes.

ISAZ celebrated the graduation of more than 100 students.  These students came to ISAZ because they had struggled in brick and mortar schools.  ISAZ is a school specifically targeted for those struggling academically. This graduation is recognition that these students can succeed and flourish in a virtual learning environment.  Graduates are headed to colleges such as Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, Arizona Western College, and Rio Salado College.

During my speech to the 2015 graduating class I spoke of how the important goals in life are only achieved with determination, courage, hard work, collaboration, and a clear understanding of what success looks like. I shared ISAZ student stories from Fernanda Castillo, a dedicated mother of a two-year old daughter as well as a high school student, who graduated earlier in April, as well as, Brandyn Barton, who took advantage of the flexibility of ISAZ to complete all graduation requirements while officially still in the 11th grade.

On the next night, I had the privilege of speaking to the 2015 graduating class at AZVA. Again, more than 100 graduates walked the stage; many headed to colleges such as University of Arizona, The Julliard School, and Brigham Young University to name a few.

I challenged the graduating class to continue do what is right – to stay the course with your principles and values, and to be the kind of person they know they can and should become. I emphasized that how doing the right thing led graduates to this monumental day. From completing assignments, studying, to passing all required courses to earn a diploma.

I highlighted two students in the AZVA graduating class, who did what was right. Tye Waggoner transferred from a brick-and-mortar school to AZVA despite family recommendations against her decision. Tye set a goal of attaining all A’s through putting countless hours into school work and finding her own path through online learning. Another example is Yannick Schreiber, who realized early on that he would be unprepared for college if he attended his local high school. Yannick joined AZVA because he felt like it was the right fit for him and the right thing to do for his future.  

I concluded my speech with the following remarks:

All this work that you have completed prepares you for your future. But there is still work ahead for sure. Whether you continue in school or begin a career, or focus on raising a family, learning will be a part of your life forever.

Congratulations to the class of 2015!

K12 Inc.'s picture

Weekly Roundup - 5.29.15

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

North Carolina Virtual Academy Announces New School Leadership Team
(Press Release)

North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA), a K-12 online public charter school, today announced two experienced North Carolina educators as the newest members to its school leadership team. Joel Medley was named as North Carolina Virtual Academy's Head of School and Marcia Simmons will serve as an Academic Administrator. They will start on Monday, June 1, 2015.

Director of state charter office to lead online public school
(The News Observer)

Joel Medley, head of the charter school office in the state Department of Public Instruction, has accepted a job running the K12 online charter school in North Carolina. Thursday was Medley’s last day running the state’s charter school office. Medley will start next week as the online school’s top administrator, or head of school.
“It’s an opportunity to learn and be part of something that’s so rare for the state,” Medley said.

Speaker Bosma names 2010 Teacher of the Year to SBOE
(Press Release)

House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) has appointed Dr. Byron L. Ernest to serve as a member of the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE). Dr. Ernest is currently the Head of Schools for Hoosier Academies in Indiana. 

Minnesota Counselor of the Year has local ties
(Spring Grove Herald)

Tina Barness of Ossian was recently named Minnesota Elementary School Counselor of the Year by the Minnesota School Counselor’s Association (MSCA). Barness was honored in front of 550 peers at the state conference in Brainerd, Minn., on May 4. Barness received the award in recognition of her leadership, advocacy and collaboration and her work in promoting equity and access to opportunities and rigorous educational experiences for all students to maximize student achievement.  

Barness is a school counselor for students in kindergarten through eighth grade for the Minnesota Virtual Academy (MNVA), an online program in the Houston Public School District. Barness supports over 1,000 students on her caseload with students living across the entire state of Minnesota.

Brookfield family shares online school experience
(Brookfield Now)

With temperatures on the rise and Memorial Day in the rear view mirror, many Brookfield and Elm Grove parents soon will be getting used to having their children around the house much more. For one family in the city of Brookfield however, school being in session and the children being around are not mutually exclusive. Carrie Jensen has enrolled her children in the Wisconsin Virtual Academy to provide at-home schooling for five of her children. Two older Jensen children also attended the academy through eighth grade and now attend Brookfield Academy. Two more are likely to begin schooling soon. The Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA) is an online public charter school that provides a full-time, tuition-free, K-12 curriculum.

Pikes Peak Online School Opens for Fall 2015
(Press Release)

Pikes Peak Online School (PPOS), a tuition-free online public school for Colorado students statewide in grades 9 through 12, has been approved to enroll students for the 2015-2016 school year. Authorized by the Colorado Digital Board of Cooperative Education Services (CD BOCES), PPOS is an education option focused on helping students who are struggling academically. With a unique and highly supportive approach, PPOS will work with students and their families to help them overcome obstacles, including learning or behavioral issues, bullying, or a lack of effective alternatives.

2015 Graduation Announcements