Bucyrus Virtual Learning Academy provides unique classes for students

Bucyrus Virtual Learning Academy provides unique classes for students
Posted on 02/26/2015

Two years ago, the Bucyrus City School District launched the Educational Options program to provide students with an alternative means of earning their high school diploma. The success of the Educational Options program was immediate, and led to the implementation of a Virtual Learning Academy (VLA).

The Virtual Learning Academy was implemented during the first semester of the 2014-2015 school year to give students the opportunity to earn elective credits by taking courses not offered in the traditional high school curriculum. Students at Bucyrus High School have the opportunity to choose courses from an expanded curriculum of 45 new titles through the Virtual Learning Academy. The expanded course offerings have resulted in more students earning more elective credits.

"During the first semester of the this school year, Bucyrus High School students earned 24.5 total elective credits by successfully completing 49 courses through the Academy," Director of Educational Options Kevin Fourman said. "Students completing coursework through the Academy earned a 3.18 grade point average."

Many students took multiple classes during the first semester. Senior Gregg Piatt completed six courses, including: Sociology 1 and 2, Anthropology 1 and 2, Psychology, and World Religion and Culture.

"The Virtual Learning Academy is good because you have more time to complete the assignments," Piatt said. "It's challenging too because there are times when you don't quite understand the material and it takes more time to get responses from your advisor. But overall, it's a really good program because it provides opportunities to learn about things that aren’t normally offered in high school."

Courses that students completed during the first semester included those such as Intro to Social Media, Principles of Health Science, Criminology, Veterinary Sciences and Game Development just to name a few. Students completed coursework on their schedule, and had the opportunity to work with High School teachers as advisor/monitors for the courses.

"I served as the advisor/monitor for three students who took Principles of Architecture and Construction and Principles of Engineering and Technology," Industrial Technology Instructor Heath Sager said. "One of the students, through the VLA program, was able to do an alternative design project for the athletic director at the high school for the football field. These types of alternative experiences can only help foster a personal significance for their own education beyond what 'traditional' courses can offer."

Piatt intends to pursue a college degree after high school to work as a Physical Therapy Assistant. His experience in the Virtual Learning Academy has helped prepare him for the next step in his educational journey.

"Many colleges offer online courses, and thanks to the VLA, I will be prepared to take those college-level courses towards my degree," Piatt said. "VLA also helped me be more focused with my time and the tasks I need to complete. It has helped me learn how to move things around in my schedule to be able to complete the coursework."

In addition to expanding the curriculum through the VLA, the High School also offers laptops and wireless Internet connectivity to students who otherwise would not have the resources to access the online curriculum. These devices give the students the opportunity to learn anywhere, anytime.

"Both the Educational Options program and the VLA have created a unique learning environment at Bucyrus High School," Secondary School Principal Dr. Mark Burke said. "We are able to offer students, regardless of current class schedule or achievement level, the opportunity to learn in a way that is a customized and personalized educational experience for each student. We hope to continue both programs for many years to come to give Bucyrus students the ability to take control of their education, enhance their knowledge well beyond the traditional high school curriculum and move on to be successful, productive members of society."

"The students at Bucyrus High School have more access to curriculum, technology and support than other students throughout Crawford County," Superintendent Kevin Kimmel said. "This is just another example of the Board of Education's commitment to making the Bucyrus City School District the school of choice in north central Ohio."

To learn more about the Educational Options program and the Virtual Learning Academy, please contact Kevin Fourman at 419-562-7721 or email k.fourman@bucyrusschools.org.