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I had the pleasure of meeting Aris and his mother Rena at our Baton Rouge Blended Center Open House last fall. They had enrolled in Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA) a little after school started and were struggling to keep up with the “ins and outs” of virtual schooling. They had recently relocated from Texas after several job-related moves and were searching for a new educational experience for Aris. Previous situations had not been positive and schooling had become a challenge as well as a chore for the family.

Aris had been bullied quite a bit while in Texas. As a result, and combined with other life adjustments, anxiety had kept him from eating regularly. A traditional setting in another new city was simply not an option. I explained our blended learning center to Aris and Rena. I shared that he could bring his own food, or eat when he left the facility for the day. They would have the support of our staff, and Rena could visit so that we could assist them both with the transition to online school. In addition, Aris could make some new friends while at the center.

The schedule was flexible to the family so that they could choose what days he attended as well as how many hours he attended each day. The purpose was to supplement virtual learning with face-to-face interaction. They were both very interested and registered that same day.

Fast forward to our Connection Calls this fall. When Aris’ homeroom teacher, Mrs. Kari McGuire, reached out to welcome them back, Rena cheerfully shared what a difference LAVCA has made for Aris and how much he has enjoyed the blended learning center in Baton Rouge: “Aris has opened up socially to adults, received tremendous academic support, and also enjoys the opportunity to interact with peers and discuss socialization issues that were previously taboo!” She went on to share that Aris could not believe how valued he felt as an individual in a virtual school when in previous settings he had felt invisible to adults and targeted by his peers. He says that he is thrilled that the centers are available.

Our blended learning centers at LAVCA have made a difference in students’ lives, and we are proud to see that impact. This fall the centers have been expanded across the state to include the Northshore, Houma, New Orleans, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Monroe and Shreveport. We look forward to impacting more students’ lives just as we have Aris’.

About The Author

Gina Warren

Gina Warren taught second grade at Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA) for four years before transitioning to her current role as family engagement coordinator. Prior to joining the LAVCA team, Gina taught grades 1-6 for 13 years in schools in the Mobile, Alabama, area that varied from Title 1 inner city to high-end private schools. She graduated with both her bachelor's and master's degrees in elementary education from the University of South Alabama in 1995 and has endorsements in both reading instruction and instructional media. Gina currently resides in Mobile, Alabama, with her husband and four children. She loves reading, antiquing, slipping down to the beach and being with her house full of teenagers!

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