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August 2016 has been a difficult month for the folks in the state I have called home for 31 years, Louisiana. As many as 40,000 homes and businesses have flooded and thousands of residents have been displaced. The unfortunate irony of the timing is not lost on many as eleven years ago this month New Orleanians, like myself, had to flee our homes as Hurricane Katrina made a beeline for our town. Once again, residents are being forced to evacuate as areas of the state experience historic flooding. Some of my family and friends who moved from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina have, for a second time, suffered through a “once in a lifetime” flooding event.

As experience has shown me, these times can be challenging at best. Strangers become lifelines at the most unexpected moments. While evacuated, I once broke down and cried for fifteen minutes after a sales clerk in a department store asked if I needed help…did I ever! When I told her I was from New Orleans she hugged me, and in that moment, that hug was just what I needed.

Just as the sales clerk was there for me when I needed her, I believe that our online state school, the Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA), may be a similar type of lifeline for displaced families. While many brick and mortar schools have flooded and temporarily closed, LAVCA’s virtual school doors remain open. Our students are able to continue schooling despite Louisiana’s state of emergency.  Whether our students are working at a relative’s home, or the public library, they have access to a robust curriculum and classes taught by state certified teachers delivered virtually.

Perry Daniel, Head of School for LAVCA remarked, “It is our hope that Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy can provide some sense of normalcy to our students and families who have been affected by the flooding in our region.”

What many might not know is that LAVCA’s virtual program has online and offline components. Right now we have some LAVCA students who do not have access to any internet services, but are able to work offline in their print resources such as textbooks and workbooks. Once they have internet connection again they can update their work in their Online School. This provides students with a seamless continuation of their studies despite their circumstance. Some families may need to move from one relative’s home to another, or from one city to the next, while their home is rebuilt. Our program’s flexibility allows families the freedom to freely relocate without interruption to their school year. The benefits of online education are many when our families’ first priority is providing a stable environment and working to get back in their home.

As our state once again rebuilds, I am proud of the work LAVCA is doing to support our families and our staff. We remain steadfast in our mission to put Student’s First even in times of crisis.

Help for Louisiana flood victims:

To donate money to United Way of Louisiana, you can text LAFLOOD to 313131 or visit cauw.org

To donate to the Red Cross, visit redcross.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

About The Author

Ana Berry

Ana Berry is a Students First Instructional Coach for the Southern Region.  Prior to joining the Instructional Coaching Team, Ana was an elementary school teacher and member of the opening staff at Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA), where she taught math, history, and science. Before moving into virtual education, Ana taught at various elementary schools in the New Orleans area.  Originally from Miami, Florida, Ana has a bachelor of arts degree from Tulane University and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. Ana lives in the New Orleans area with her husband and two sons, and enjoys reading, painting, and spending time with her family. 

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