Originally published in the Dothan Eagle – December 28, 2017
The Alabama Virtual Academy is not only providing opportunities to students, it’s also providing opportunities for educators to focus on the part of the job they love best.
The Alabama Virtual Academy is an online public school program authorized by the Alabama Department of Education. The school currently enrolls about 2,000 students, the majority of them middle and high school students. ALVA provides an opportunity for those students who have needs that just aren’t met by a traditional school setting.
The school also provides an opportunity for educators to excel by allowing them to focus on academics and curriculum instead of the countless bureaucratic and cultural headaches of a regular school.
Farica West is a principal at ALVA. West, of Chipley, Fla., worked for years in administration in traditional schools, and most of her day was spent dealing with disciplinary issues. That kept her from working on her true passion – developing curriculum, tracking student data, and helping guide individual students to success.
West said her work with ALVA allows her to focus on the job she wants to do, instead of the work that got handed to her in traditional schools.
“It’s the best choice I ever made,” she said. “I think what makes our program so unique is that there’s so much individual instruction.”
ALVA students take their courses online. West said that it’s a popular misconception that students attend class on their own time. West said that there are set times for classroom instruction with teachers.
West said it’s also a misconception that students miss out on socialization by taking courses via ALVA. West said the school has regular events throughout the state for students and their families.
West said she enjoys being able to focus on student data and crafting individualized plans for student education. West said ALVA is a great option for educators as well as students.
“Virtual education boils down to choice,” she said. “I think it’s great for students, families, teachers and administrators to have choice.”
Because ALVA is a public school program, there is no charge for students to attend. West said the program draws a wide range of students, including students with academic and behavioral challenges, high-achieving students, students who are top competitors in athletic and cultural pursuits whose schedules don’t work well with traditional schools, students with health challenges and others.