By Lauren Schiller
Leader Student Contributor
This year, students across the globe have moved to online learning. For many this is their first time learning outside of a traditional seated learning environment. Yet others, including many students within the Oxford area, have been learning virtually for years.
Oxford Virtual Academy was founded in 2011 when “the district [Oxford Community Schools] was looking for a way to personalize education and to provide multiple pathways to graduation,” said Janet Schell, principal of OVA.
Like all Oxford Community Schools, OVA is AdvancEd accredited. Students enrolled in OVA complete their classes online, which deliver instruction via text, video, online activities, etc. Each OVA student is also assigned a mentor teacher “who is like a learning coach,” Schell explained.
Currently, there are over 2,000 students enrolled full-time in OVA, as well as a number of homeschooled students. These students hail from all over southeastern Michigan.
While Schell does acknowledge that challenges can arise for OVA students in the form of “managing time and navigating the programs,” the opportunity to move at one’s own pace anytime, anywhere is a major draw for OVA students and families.
OVA is designed for any student, but students involved in intense extracurricular programs or that have families that often travel usually find OVA to be a good match.
For example, Caleb and Matthew Paddock are twins who work as actors. They are in their second year at OVA, having been homeschooled before then.
According to Matthew, the flexibility OVA provides “allows me to keep working as an actor.” Caleb agreed, saying “I am voicing a super cool character on a new Disney animated series and I can do this because OVA is really flexible.”
Though the brothers agree that sometimes they miss being around other kids their age, neither has any wish to attend in-person school. Caleb explained, “I need to be creative and think outside the box and my OVA teachers let me do that!”
The onset of the pandemic has also increased the number of students enrolled in OVA. Cailyn Eller is one such new OVA student. A sixth-grader, she attended in-person school until the coronavirus began.
Like the Paddock brothers, Eller’s “favorite part about OVA is how flexible it is, you can basically do the work whenever and you don’t have to be in zooms 24/7.”
Additionally, Eller likes the “unique opportunities” OVA provides in terms of electives, which go beyond “gym, foreign language, music, and art.” Currently, Eller is taking snowboarding classes through OVA.
Evangeline and Selah Moore, like Eller, are also newcomers to OVA, enrolling as a result of the coronavirus.
What Selah likes about OVA is that she is able to set her own pace with her schoolwork and, similarly to Eller, was able to take an unorthodox extracurricular: horseback riding. However, Selah misses seeing her friends and wants to return to in-person school.
For any students or families interested in enrolling in OVA, Matthew Paddock would say “Do it! OVA is a great program and you can do things on your own time and the teachers are great!”
For more information regarding OVA and the enrollment process, visit its website at https://www.oxfordvirtualacademy.org.