Imagine if kids could learn anywhere anytime, taking full advantage of community assets, both following their interests and developing important skills and dispositions. It’s happening every day in Fort Pierce, Florida halfway between Miami and Orlando.
Virtual Schools of Excellence (VSOE) is an accredited independent school that operates operates online and on-site educational services and programs for private paying students, school partnerships, homeschool organizations, and Catholic schools.
Each student has a Personal Education Plan which guides a personalized blend on online and community-based learning experiences. Experiential learning is supported through community partnerships that support symposiums and rehearsals, work experiences and internships, and coaching with adjunct faculty with industry credentials.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Academy is a part of the model in Fort Pierce. High school students take part time online classes as needed and as they fit into their schedules.
A converted law office serves as the St. Andrew’s study cafe. Students drop in between community experiences including a culinary arts partner, Anytime Fitness, an art gallery, scuba and sailing partners, and a children’s theater.
Trina Angelone, CEO/President provided an example:
One student registered as a 10th grade student in August 2014; her personal education plan included on campus classes, online classes, dual enrollment at the local state college, and with an interest in photojournalism, teacher Curry Krasulak got her an internship with Historic Downtown Main Street’s newspaper, In Focus, and she has been published all year. With top test scores and the ability to self-pace, Allison jumped from being a sophomore to being a junior in January. She will graduate a year early and will have a couple of years’ worth of college credits completed.
Over 60 St. Andrew’s high school students participated in this partnership program and personalized their plans to earn marine science college credits through the local state college dual enrollment program, became scuba diving certified through a local dive shop, earned culinary arts credits as they learned how to decorate cakes through a local bakery partnership, and painted their masterpieces working with the downtown artists’ studios.
VSOE also serves autistic students “who want to do some academic work in a 1:1 environment with the VSOE academic coaches, take some elective classes on the St. Andrew’s campus to experience the mainstream social aspect so often denied to special needs students, all while also taking online classes worked in a flexible partnership to accommodate the students’ therapy, medical and other needs,” said VSOE principal Dr. Anastasia Legakes.
Some of these individualized courses of study are supported by Florida’s School Choice and Tax Credit Scholarship (Step Up For Students) and the new PLSA (Personal Learning Scholarship Account) Programs.
Plans include the expansion of the Fort Pierce Learning Centers for students interested in the performing arts. Curriculum for core classes is delivered through online classes, while music, talent development, talent management, contract studies, the business of the music industry, and much more is provided through a year-long “Visiting Artists and Professionals” rotational model.
“It is very important for us to be able to deliver a personalized education model that can be self-supporting and replicated, that any public or private school can implement and sustain if they are willing to engage in true systemic reform,” said Angelone.
The VSOE team has accomplished a lot in in 18 months–they’ve created a great next gen blend that combines online and community-based learning, full or part time. Students can co-construct their pathway. Teachers can also flex their schedule.
Online Learning Leadership
If you attend the iNACOL Symposium every year you’ve probably met Trina Angelone. After 20 years as a teacher and administrator in Florida public schools, Trina launched the International Catholic Virtual School to serve low-income caribbean communities.
Angelone went on to found of VSCHOOLZ, an online learning platform and services company funded in part by Wayne Huizenga (Blockbuster, Auto Nation). VSCHOOLZ was sold to Calvert Educational Services in 2013. After supporting the transition, Trina left to found VSOE.
Angelone’s recent book identifies the need for reform of America’s public schools. Keep an eye on VSOE for a picture of the future of learning.
For more check out:
- DLN Report Card Preview: Accelerating Students in Florida
- When I Grow Up: Helping Young Adults Explore Careers Collaboratively
- Preparing Students for Careers & Developing a Workforce
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