Recently, I heard an educational speaker say, “If a school does not tell its story, someone else will.” These words rang true to me in light of the state charter school district’s charge that the S.C. Virtual Charter School is “poor performing” and “failing.”
Every charter school sets different goals, serves different populations and should not be measured with the same metrics as others. As a faculty member for almost eight years at our online public school and an educator in S.C. public schools for almost 43, I would like to share some of our story.
I left the brick-and-mortar public classroom after 35 years to undertake a cutting-edge method of education, and not once have I regretted my decision. The administration and faculty at the S.C. Virtual Charter School are veteran, committed and certified educators who have undertaken our mission to offer public school students a different form of public education to meet their needs.
I have taught a nationally ranked tennis player who was able to travel the country and compete while taking honors and AP classes and who went on to play for the University of Connecticut for four years. A nationally ranked ice skater, a member of the National Honor Society of which I am adviser, was able to work on her competitive skills while attending online public school. In addition, I instructed a professional singer who has created one of the more popular YouTube sites and was able to attain his S.C. high school education while performing in the cast of “Glee.” I’m sure none of these students have regretted the opportunities our school afforded them.
I have been honored and humbled to teach a student with diabetes so severe she could not attend a brick-and-mortar school because of her illness but was able to attend our virtual school. One of my former students with cerebral palsy was able to complete her high school diploma at home and not struggle daily to attend a brick-and-mortar school. Currently I teach a gifted student with an auto-immune disease who will graduate next year and attend college.
These students would have faced many challenges if required to go to a brick-and-mortar school every morning. I imagine they would be surprised by the negative characterizations of their school since they have greatly benefited from our education.
We teach students who have given up on their education because of family situations and offer a high-quality education to those who reside in areas of our state that don’t offer a world-class education. We have Career and Technology Education classes, honors classes, AP classes, arts and music classes and foreign languages as well as the challenging core classes. Many school districts have cut AP classes, art and music classes and foreign languages because of budgetary considerations. But we offer them.
I teach many seniors who are able to work full-time jobs, serve as firefighters in our communities and participate in community service. Many of our students are able to attend their local tech schools to begin their college careers taking dual-enrollment courses while simultaneously working on the required classes for their high school diploma. I’m sure these students are grateful for this opportunity.
Our graduates have earned millions of dollars in scholarship money. Our students’ SAT and ACT scores indicate that our graduates are as capable as those from many brick-and-mortar institutions, if not more so.
Our graduates go on to public and private post-secondary institutions and succeed. There they find that colleges and tech schools are offering online classes and have been for a while. Who will be better prepared for the challenge online classes provide than our students who work in this forum daily?
Contact Ms. Brewer at firstname.lastname@example.org.