GREENVILLE — After opening just six months ago, West Michigan Virtual is already seeing success with four students graduating from the program.
In August, West Michigan Virtual opened its doors on 8153 Satterlee Road in Greenville after partnering with Berrien Springs Public Schools to teach outside of the traditional classroom.
The set-up helps 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 while giving them a flexible schedule to do so.
“Over 600 credit hours have already been completed,” said Dallas Bell, who was instrumental in creating a partnership with schools to join the virtual school program. “It’s incredible.”
The setting is like one of a community college, where students can work on their schedules to get the education they need to graduate.
Also through West Michigan Virtual, students can take on internships with 27 partnering businesses in and around Greenville.
Bell said one student who graduated and had an internship at Mersen USA was given a career opportunity and is currently working at the business.
After graduating from the virtual school, another student went on to Ferris State University to study in the pharmaceutical field.
“I love it,” said Bud Rogers, a current student at West Michigan Virtual School.
Bell said the school’s most important factor is giving students the hope they need to succeed.
Not only do the students have a building they can go to to reach their goals of graduating, but the students also have support and teachers who support them, as well, said Greenville Public Schools Superintendent Pete Haines.
“It gives them hope for the future,” Haines said. “(The school) gives them a quality chance.”
Dan Hodges, director at Greenville’s West Michigan Virtual campus, said the school also helps transition students from the school setting into college settings and the real world.
He said students are able to build resumes, learn how to interview and how to dress, plus more.
“It’s items we might take for granted, but something they have not been exposed to before,” Hodges said.
The school also offers credit recovery programs where if students are behind, they can attend West Michigan Virtual outside of normal school hours to get back on their feet while still attending high school.
With the 126 students who are attending West Michigan Virtual, Bell and Hodges said they are looking to partner with more schools in the future to reach and give more students another option to succeed.
As of this week, Central Montcalm Public Schools voted during its board of education meeting to open West Michigan Virtual-Central Montcalm to service the community.
The school will be opening inside of the closed elementary building across from the Sheriff’s Department off M-66.
“We are so blessed,” Bell said. “I wish people could feel the feeling we get when these student are on fire for their future.”