I am so very proud of my school! I have been teaching for about 17 years and am not sure if I have ever felt such pride for any other school I have worked in, despite them all being wonderful places, than I feel right now for Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA).
LAVCA is something very special and dear to me and that feeling is contagious! I have been with the school since we launched five years ago and have seen what amazing things can happen by allowing educators to have input on what we do every day—teach! We have a hashtag at our school that many use and we take it quite seriously— #LAVCApride. We are full of pride for the best virtual school in Louisiana and the most dedicated staff I have ever worked alongside!
This past Wednesday our school’s teachers and students, in conjunction with Public School Options (PSO) Louisiana chapter members, met at our state capitol in Baton Rouge. We made sure our voices were heard concerning the importance of school choice and specifically the importance and relevance of LAVCA. This event is not a new one, but has taken on more significance this year as we strive to educate our lawmakers on the impact our school has on the children we serve and their families. This is so important, because three bills have been introduced in the state legislature that could possibly end or restructure the program that we have worked so hard to create for our families.
On previous capitol days, we had a handful of students join us and participate, but this year we really showed our #LAVCApride! Our families and staff members travelled from all over and we filled the room with our presence! We had nearly 90 in attendance this amazing day and there was an electricity amongst us, fueled by our LAVCA pride and what we have each accomplished within our school’s academic program. PSO provided t-shirts for all representing our school and when the committee met, there was a flood of red t-shirts in the room, creating a presence that garnered specific recognition during the meeting.
Immediately following the meeting, our teachers and head of school went on to meet with legislators and were able to speak and represent our deep passion for our school. Students of all ages were asked to speak and were recorded on video as well as participated in a letter-writing campaign within the rotunda of the Louisiana State Capitol. At one point, I looked around and saw our families crouching in corners, sitting on floors, sharing pens and using any device available to take the time right then and there to write letters explaining not only the value but the necessity of our program in Louisiana.
One of our very own teachers, Mrs. Mindi Petifils, wrote one of these letters from which I have included the excerpts below:
…Some would argue that, unlike traditional public schools, K12 has some administrative authority over LAVCA. But, complying with K12 does not take away from compliance with LDOE. In fact, our administrators, who partially represent K12, are the very people who have the biggest influence in ensuring that we comply with LDOE. Should the government take Michelin and Goodyear tires off of every government vehicle just because their tires are made by for-profit companies? I would prefer to have for-profit engineers designing my tires. I’m riding on their tires, and their livelihood is riding on pleasing me.
Regardless of who we comply with, we are successful, and we are getting more and more successful. I teach PreCalc/Trig and Physics. I teach the seniors. I teach the kids trying to get TOPS and trying to get into specific colleges and universities. So I pay close attention to ACT scores. Here are a few statistics for you to consider. (These are all gathered from www.louisianabelieves.com.)
|School or School District||Average ACT Score for 2014-15 School Year||Other Notes|
|Iberville Parish School System||18.0||I included IPSS because of their recent attempt with the LAE to shut down type 2 charters.|
|The Amazing State of Louisiana||19.2|
|National Average||19.7||Something to consider here is if all states currently require all students to take the ACT. If LAVCA must test every student and the nation may have states who only test college bound students, then beating this score is even more admirable!|
|Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy||20.9||ßMany of these are from my personal students!!!!!|
Following our letter-writing campaign and a tour of the capitol, we all walked together (again, a sea of red t-shirts) to have lunch and a short celebration and fellowship. Our families who attended capitol day were from all over the state and most of us had only met virtually, but it didn’t matter, there was something magical in that room! We were connected, because we all care very deeply for our children and the wonderful choices that a school like ours provides. Our families gathered nearly ninety strong to show their #LAVCApride! It was an amazing day!
Gina Warren is a teacher at Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy and a K12 Teacher Ambassador.
Keep up to date with LAVCA by checking out their school facebook page.