Maine Virtual Academy helps other schools adapt to online learning

Originally aired on WGME-TV – September 8, 2020

Schools across the country are facing challenges as they incorporate virtual learning into their lesson plans, but for one school in Maine, they’ve got it down to a science.

“Our model affords us continuity,” Maine Virtual Academy Head of School Dr. Melinda Browne said.

For five years, teachers at the Maine Virtual Academy, or MEVA, have taught students grades 7-12 online.

“And over that time period, we experienced probably a lot of things that local districts are experiencing right now,” Browne said.

Since the start of the pandemic, the wait list to get into MEVA has doubled to more than 400 students.

About a third of those students want to leave their local public schools due to COVID-19 concerns.

“And then families feeling a little frustrated with the scheduling of their children’s education,” Browne said.

MEVA’s advice to schools new to online learning is to focus on structure.

“So that’s a really important lesson,” Browne said.

The Maine Virtual Academy is helping public charter schools across the state as they adapt to online learning, and while Baxter Academy in Portland will be shifting to digital, they’ll be doing what they can to keep a human approach.

“We focused on three things, and it was student care, faculty care and community connection,” Baxter Academy Interim School Head Cicy Po said.

Tuesday was the launch of the Maine Online Opportunities for Sustained Education, or the MOOSE, program, Maine’s first virtual teaching resource.

“To have this resource there for students that need it, for teachers to be able to pull from and adapt, make their own, tie it into their curriculum,” Maine Department of Education Innovative Teaching and Learning Director Beth Lambert said.

Lambert says they’re currently working on phase two of the MOOSE program, and they plan to release it at the end of November, just in time for the second quarter of the school year.

To learn more about Maine Virtual Academy, visit https://meva.k12.com/.

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