On Monday, April 11, the Sewanhaka Central High School district unveiled its Virtual Education Academy (VEA). The burgeoning cost of adhering to state mandates in homebound education and the less-than-optimal results for students led the district to seek a 21st century solution through the use of technology.
Fourteen students representing all five of the district's high schools took their first steps into cyber education supported by certified district teachers and a guidance counselor. Under this pilot program, students who are unable to participate in a regular classroom for an extended period of time report to a single district site. Customized web-based curriculum in English, math, science and social studies is delivered via computer and supported by certified Sewanhaka teachers in a small group setting. Classes operate from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. from Monday through Thursday.
Mrs. Suzette Hayes, parent of a homebound student, is very hopeful about the new program. "Before VEA, there were a lot of factors that were hindering the learning process. Now, not only have the lines of communication between myself, the educators, and my child opened, but the program provides a safe environment and improves social skills," said Mrs. Hayes. "This is an excellent opportunity for these students because it is a hybrid approach to mixing education with technology - which during the Age of Technology, are both critical in a student's development."
Under the guidance of the project managers from Right Reason Technologies, units were developed from the current curriculum to accommodate a variety of learning styles. In addition to the time spent onsite, students may access the website from home with their own usernames and passwords to complete assignments or submit homework. VEA helps students stay focused and motivated while away from the classroom and provides an outlet to fulfill school requirements. Students will be able to take the appropriate Regents exams at the end of the semester.
According to Superintendent of Schools Dr. John R. Williams, the VEA to date has been an unqualified success. He reports that several other Nassau County districts have already contacted him to learn more about the cyber program and to schedule visitations.
"The program will run for the remainder of this academic year, which ends in June. It will then be re-evaluated by parents, students, and staff to see if this is a viable solution," said Fred Raulli, coordinator of all homebound education for the district. "We do not foresee this program being a failure."
Home to more than 8,600 students and 700 professional staff members, Sewanhaka Central High School District's mission is to reach higher standards through shared responsibility for student achievement. As a recipient of the National Blue Ribbon of Excellence, the district is known for its academic excellence and its fields of technical and vocational education.
For more information, contact the District at 516-488-9800 or visit the web site at www.sewanhaka.k12.ny.us.