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Public school, charter schools, private schools, homeschool, virtual schools…in today’s day and age families across the nation have a wide variety of educational choices for their children. In 2003 the Florida Department of Education established The Florida Virtual Academy (FLVA), thereby offering students public school at home through a web-based distance learning program. FLVA is a public school program that offers students an alternative to attending regular public school. This program was originally created out of the need to reduce class size within the Florida Public Schools. Currently, FLVA serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade from more than 155 cities and towns across Florida.
There is no tuition or fees for students who enroll. All of the instructional materials, including workbooks and textbooks are provided free to the student along with a loaned computer system which includes a printer and software as well as reimbursement of internet connection. Because it is a public school program, FLVA students participate in state and district proficiency testing, including the FCAT.
The assistance of a certified teacher is provided to FLVA families as part of the program. A certified teacher reviews and grades the student’s work. The teacher has phone conferences with the parent and student to review student progress. Teachers also assign semester and year-end grades. There are no intrusions into your home with FLVA. Home visits are not part of this program, unless you ask the teacher to come to your home. Parents who enroll their children in FLVA can choose to leave the program at any time if they are not satisfied with it.
FLVA provides students with a challenging, rigorous program by using the K12 curriculum. The K12 curriculum was developed by well-known, esteemed professionals including scholars, writers, teachers and designers. The K12 curriculum is flexible enough to challenge students according to their mastery of skills and is used in virtual schools across the nation. Students study Language Arts, Math, Science, History, Music and Art. The K12 courses provided meet or exceed every state’s academic standards.
There are a variety of reasons why parents choose FLVA for their children. Lisa and Paul Cannon, Naples residents, currently use the FLVA program with their son. The program works well for the Cannon family because of the work related traveling they do each month. By using the FLVA program, their son gets to travel with the family and there are no worries about absences from school. “This is a program that gives us flexibility”, says Lisa. The Cannon family travel with a lap top which is used with the FLVA program for their son while away from home. Lisa also enjoys being a part of the FLVA family; throughout the year students are invited to participate in school outings, field trips, picnics and other social events.
Edina Hepokoski, of Bonita Springs, uses the FLVA program with her second grade daughter, Heidi. According to Edina she always knew she was going to school her children at home, but she chose the FLVA program because she and her husband felt FLVA was a compromise between homeschool and public school. “It also fits with my work schedule”, she adds. Edina praises the K12 curriculum, and states her daughter is excelling because of it. “The curriculum is very strong and demanding, you definitely have to keep up with it, but it is so much fun to be at home with my daughter and watch the progress she is making”, Edina says. Edina wants her children to become self-learners, motivated by their own interests and to have a lifelong love of learning. When asked if there are any downsides to using the FLVA program, Edina would prefer the program to allow for year-round schooling rather than following the typical school year calendar.
To learn more about FLVA, or to take an online quiz to see if this program is right for you, go to their website: WWW.FLVA.ORG
You can contact the FLVA administrative office directly with your questions and inquiries by calling (904) 721-0035.
Darlene Pellechia is a freelance writer, former educator, and mother of three. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org