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As the new school year approaches, students and their families aren’t the only ones preparing to launch into a year of learning and innovation. The faculty and staff of Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA) enhanced their leadership skills through two days of face-to-face professional development. All ORVA staff participated in the immersive summit on August 15-16 on the campus of Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.

ORVA’s professional development event occurs every August before the new school year begins. Teachers and staff from all ORVA departments across the state come together in-person to discuss how to have a productive and positive school year while putting students first.

Jamie Stiles, Family Engagement Administrator at ORVA, said, “Having more interaction as a staff makes us feel more united, and we can pass that energy onto our students and our families,” said Jamie Stiles, Family Engagement Administrator at ORVA.

ORVA Head of School Steve Werlein believes that in-person leadership events are very beneficial to the school’s community. “We can ask face-to-face questions and capitalize on each other’s strengths by working together and troubleshooting,” he said. “The end goal is how we impact students. Just the fact that people are together and can share face-to-face and learn from each other is invaluable.”

A highlight of ORVA’s event was hearing from keynote speaker Kevin P. Chavous, K12’s President of Academics, Policy, and Schools. He encouraged ORVA’s faculty to explore all possibilities this school year by believing in the powers of learning, teaching, and children. Additionally, he reiterated the importance of students knowing how much teachers passionately care about their learning and growth through education. Chavous also reminded ORVA staff that K12 is committed to giving the schools and teachers the tools to explore possibilities and that all children are capable of learning.

“It was really positive and made the staff feel like they are part of this big picture and this big plan for improving education across the U.S. in general,” Stiles said. “People went up to him afterwards and were grateful that he took the time to come to our school.”

Ultimately, ORVA’s fall professional development was deemed a success. “This was my first year doing a face-to-face kick-off PD here at ORVA, and the feedback that I got from staff was that it was the most relevant and positive back-to-school PD that they’ve ever had,” said Werlein, who begins his second year at ORVA. “I’m hoping that we can capitalize on that and that the year falls in line with the positive energy that we saw last week.”

Oregon Virtual Academy begins its 11th school year on Tuesday, September 4.

To learn more about Oregon Virtual Academy, visit https://orva.k12.com/.

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