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More Students Choosing Virtual School Programs

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Monday, August 29, 2011

"I like it because I can learn on my own pace and I can do as much or as little as I want in one day," said Irene Bird, an 8th grade student enrolled for the second year at Andover eCademy.

Flexibility was the reason Irene's mom chose to enroll her kids hundreds of miles away from their home in Kansas City.

"The kids can work at their own pace, which I think is really great. I did some substitute teaching in our school district so I got first hand the experience of that, at the junior high level and the high school level. I just wasn't pleased with what I saw," said Irene's mom, Cynthia Bird.

Virtual schools are making old district boundaries nearly meaningless. Students in virtual schools can enroll from anywhere in the state with a computer.

Andover eCademy started a year ago and their enrollment has nearly tripled since last year. Already 300 students were enrolled for this year and only 30 are from the Andover school district.

"We're really excited and I think that it's not only our school that's seeing an increase in enrollment. It's a lot of the other virtual schools too. For one reason or another, traditional schools just may not work for all the kids," said Shannon Fisher, director of Andover eCademy.

In 2000, the Wichita school district began one of the first virtual schools in the state. After 11 years and more than 3,000 students who have studied through the Learning² eSchool of Wichita, officials said they have been glad to give more options to students but also said it's not for all.

"It's not a magic fix for a student who's not being successful at other places. So, it doesn't mean instant success just because you've left the place that you were before," said Dr. Robin Surland, director of innovative learning programs for the Wichita public schools.

Both directors said school bullying was one of the reasons why more and more kids are schooling the cyber realm.

"I don't have to worry about how other people feel about me and I don't have to worry about other people making fun of me," said Irene.

Virtual programs in the area have started the school year but will continue enrollment through the Fall.

For a list of virtual programs in Kansas, click here.


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