Greenville students can now dual enroll in ‘virtual school’


By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 10:10 am on Friday, August 24, 2012

On Wednesday, the West Michigan Virtual School had touch-screen computers installed in its building. Teacher Dan Hodges tests one of the computers as it is being installed. — Courtesy photo

GREENVILLE – Greenville Public Schools is breaking boundaries by partnering with Berrien Springs Public Schools to teach outside the traditional classroom.

Starting this year, Greenville will be offering a West Michigan Virtual School through the Berrien Springs Virtual Academy. The school will be located on 8153 Satterlee Road in Greenville.

“It’s a true partnership,” said Superintendent Pete Haines.

 

What is it?

Greenville wanted to look outside the box and offer an opportunity to fit all students’ needs.

Through West Michigan Virtual School, students would be enrolled through Berrien Springs and take classes through the satellite location in Greenville.

“They will be enrolling in a full curriculum,” Haines said.

This setup will help students when the traditional classroom just isn’t enough. It’s designed to help students catch up on credits and work at their own pace.

Students will be able to set their own schedule, said Haines. If learning in the morning is best for that student, then they can do their classes then. If it is afternoon or evening that better suits the student, those options are available as well.

“We wanted to look at what will make students succeed and be successful,” said Dallas Bell, executive director of partner schools. “We are doing neat things together.”

 

The West Michigan Virtual campus located at 8153 Satterlee Road, Greenville. — Courtesy photo

Greenville Public Schools

West Michigan Virtual School will be open to high school students who are looking for a non-traditional education.

Greenville is able to take the partnership one step further than most virtual schools.

If a student is enrolled in West Michigan Virtual, they also will have the option of being able to take classes at Greenville High School, becoming a part-time student.

This will allow students to take the required classes they need through the virtual school, while dual enrolling to take classes at Greenville that the virtual school may not offer.

Classes through West Michigan Virtual School include algebra, social studies, earth science, biology, physics, English and more.

Bell said one of the students is attending virtual school to catch up on classes and also will be enrolled at Greenville to take choir and art.

The students will be able to chose from two graduation paths, a  29-credit high-school diploma or a 22-credit alternative diploma, which are both Michigan Merit Curriculum certified.

Through the virtual school, students also will have the opportunity to participate in internship programs with local businesses such as Mersen, Ed Koehn Automotive Group, Klackle Orchards and more.

“The community has a big heart,” Bell said. “Of all the businesses asked to help with the program, not a single one said ‘no’.”

Greenville has about 25 students already enrolled and its goal is to have 40 total, said Bell.

“Two weeks ago we had zero students,” said Haines, noting how fast the program is growing.

The Berrien Springs Public Schools Virtual Academy. — Courtesy photo

 

Berrien Springs Public Schools

This will be Berrien Springs’ fourth year with the virtual academy, said Berrien Springs Superintendent Jim Birmingham.

Birmingham said the school originally was designed as a way to help students with special enrollment needs, student drop-outs and more.

“Now it’s a blended learning experience kids choose to do it,” Birmingham said. “It’s the fiber of our district.”

According to the Virtual Academy’s website, the mission of the school is to offer high-quality, rigorous, extensive curriculum; highly effective and extended day support; strong, supportive relationships and relevant learning experiences.

Berrien Springs has a partnership with Battle Creek where a similar collaboration is offered.

Birmingham said Bell had the chance to see the Battle Creek partnership and liked what he saw.

Bell looked at his choices and brought the idea to life, Birmingham said.

“(West Michigan Virtual School) is ready to open this fall,” Birmingham said. “I am looking forward to serving in Greenville.”

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