Online Academy Innovative Education
PSD’s Online Academy Virtual Alternative to Traditional School
Three-week-old Anthony gazed at a lighted computer screen while his mother, Veronica Hermosillo logged into her Poudre School District Online Academy health class, recently. Hermosillo, a senior, enrolled in PSD’s new Online Academy this fall.
“I thought taking online classes was a good way to stay on track and graduate on time,” Hermosillo explained. “I can take care of the baby during the day and study my online classes at night when my mother gets home from work and can babysit for me.”
PSD’s Online Academy, currently in its first year of operation, offers an innovative alternative for Hermosillo and other students who are either unable to attend a traditional school or prefer to study at home. Presently 39 students are enrolled in the program, which has closed registration for the 2009-2010 school year.
“The PSD Online Academy is off to a terrific start and we hope to expand services to students in fall of 2010,” said Manny Ortega, assistant superintendent of secondary schools. “Poudre School District is proud to offer a school with the innovation to meet the needs of the 21st century learner.”
Although students work from home, online classes are interactive. Students participate in online discussions and get extra help through live web help sessions where they can raise their hands and ask a question. Virtual science labs allow students to control experiments by manipulating virtual lab equipment with a mouse. During language class, students speak into the computer’s microphone, record and turn in audio assignments.
“This is a great way for students to study from home, but still have a connection to the Poudre School District, receive local support, meet state standards through a state approved curriculum and graduate with a PSD diploma,” explained Heather Hiebsch, PSD Online Academy director.
Online Academy students in 6th through 12th grade can choose from 140 classes offered in all curriculum areas at all academic levels. Classes range from Advanced Placement courses to classes targeted for students who are behind and need to make up credits. Every student’s progress is monitored both by teachers as well as Hiebsch, who keeps in contact with students through e-mail, by phone, and in person. Recently, students told Hiebsch that they wanted to participate in extra-curricular activities.
“Because students requested activities, we have also started more social programs, including a student council, book buddy club, and an upcoming winter holiday party,” Hiebsch said. “Next year we hope students will also be able to attend on-campus enrichment programs."
PSD is currently accepting applications to the Online Academy for the 2010-2011 school year through the school choice application process.