SPONSORED: Is Online High School A Good Choice for Your Student? - MetroFamily Magazine
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SPONSORED: Is Online High School A Good Choice for Your Student?

by Jessica Misun

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Most of us have heard the phrase “the internet changes everything.” School is one of those areas that has seen some huge shifts from “business as usual” because of the web, including the addition of online schools as a choice for students. To help parents and students learn more about online high school, we spoke with Dominick Sirianni, director of operations for Valor Online High School and Rachel Snowden, a student of an online public high school. 

Sirianni suggested parents should do their homework because not all online high schools are the same. He suggests choosing a school that is accredited so your teen’s credits and diploma are accepted by colleges.

“For example,” Sirianni said, "Valor Online High School is a program of Epic Charter Schools. Because of this relationship, students receive an accredited high school diploma recognized by universities, colleges and employers.”

While daily coursework varies between schools, the majority of online curriculum is interactive and tailored to the student.

“In addition to robust curriculum including a lot of multimedia," Sirianni said, "Valor students attend online live teaching sessions where they learn the material and engage in classroom discussions with teachers and other students." 

Many schools, including Valor, will also have online workbooks and lessons for students to read and study independently. 

Education costs can be a concern for many families. Some online high schools are private and charge tuition while others are run by the state or local school districts. In Oklahoma, all public charter schools are tuition free. If the online school you choose is a program associated with a public charter school such as Valor’s, you will not pay tuition. 

While socialization can be a concern for students and parents, online students have just as many opportunities as students at traditional schools.

Most online schools and programs—including Valor—hold in-person events across the state where students and teachers can interact. Valor also incorporates discussion boards in the classes and chat rooms that allow students to interact both formally and informally. Both types of discussions are monitored by adults to ensure students connect with classmates in a safe, inviting way. 

“It is not isolating like some expect,” said online high school student Rachel Snowden. “It gives you the opportunity to participate in sports, take a job and stay busy.” 

Teacher communication is a critical element of education. In Oklahoma, public charter schools teachers hold the same qualifications as teachers at traditional schools. Without the difficulty of juggling 30 or more kids in a classroom at once, online teachers are able to provide more one-on-one support to their students through online tutoring sessions, phone calls and emails. Valor has an additional feature called the Parent Student Portal (PSP) where students can log on and chat directly with the teacher.

“In many cases, our students report that they actually communicate more with their teachers at Valor than they did when they attended their old school,” said Sirianni.

Snowden agreed.

“You’re not just thrown out there," she said. "The teacher actually connects with you and is there when you need her to make sure you are okay and if you need anything.”  

Here are the advantages of online high school as suggested by Sirianni and Snowden:

  • Online high school provides a flexible schedule. Virtual classrooms can be accessed at any time; all you need is a computer and an internet connection. Students that work or are involved in extracurricular activities can complete their weekly coursework on a flexible schedule and at a location convenient to them.
  • Online high school allows you to work at your own pace in a safe learning environment. The flexibility of online high school allows students to work ahead if they want to feel more challenged or take the time they need if they are struggling with a subject that is more difficult. Because curriculum is 100% online, you can learn at your own pace from the comfort of your home free of negative distractions.
  • Online high school is personalized education. Qualified instructors provide individualized support through emails, phone calls, instant messages, real-time online learning sessions and constructive feedback on assignments.
  • Online high school can help you catch up with credit recovery. Online high school can help students get the required credits they need. When a student falls behind, it is problematic and sometimes can feel impossible to make up missed credits. With the flexibility of online high school, students can succeed at recovering their credits, catch up to their class and graduate on time. Some students choose to take online classes while still attending their traditional high school, while others decide to enroll full time.
  • Online high school is a new and fun frontier. Online education is a convenient and enjoyable learning experience! You can meet your academic goals in a personalized and flexible environment.

​“You still have the structure of public school, but you also have the freedom you want,” Snowden said.

She would recommend it to “those who are really busy, uncomfortable in public school and don’t enjoy it, or if public school is just not the best fit for them.”  

There are many reasons online high school may be the right fit for your family. Find more about Valor Online High School at ChooseValor.com.

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