Administrator’s Corner by John Double
This year is the inaugural year of the Albert Lea Online Academy. Schools in the Albert Lea area recognized that there were learners who were successful in a virtual environment, understood that there would be families looking for an online environment and therefore requested the state of Minnesota approval. In June, we received our approval to offer our students in Grades 4 to 12 a new online education option as part of our school district.
The Albert Lea Online Academy is different from our virtual options of the past. Classes are completed in independent study style courses where parents / guardians are the student’s learning coaches. Learning coaches support their learners at home with attendance, homework submission, and support as needed. Teachers support both learning coaches and students and correct student submissions. Our online academy also has a school counselor, who is also an online mentor, to work with our students and families.
Our online academy offers courses based on the State of Minnesota standards in a variety of areas. While we offer all core courses, we also offer Advanced Placement (AP) and Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses. While we won’t have students soldering in their kitchens, we do offer a variety of introductory and exploratory courses to introduce students to various career areas. Online academy students also have access to in-person performance music course options (orchestra, choir, and orchestra) as well as our on-the-job learning courses. These blended learning options are a great opportunity for our students.
Over ten years ago, there were a few factors that attracted me to Albert Lea. One of them was to hear how much our community supports the school system. Another was how our school system continually seeks to improve education and educational opportunities (like the addition of the online academy). As an educator and administrator, these were both important to me and made the schools in the Albert Lea area stand out from their peers.
There are two important things that can be done this fall to continue this community support for our school district.
Families of current students can be sure to complete and return educational benefit application forms to their schools. These forms can not only allow families to benefit from free or reduced meal prices, but they can also provide other financial support to the district, helping us to reduce class sizes and providing additional support for students.
On Tuesday, November 2, the next opportunity to support our school system comes with a vote. Our community will vote on an issue to renew the current tax referendum to support our school district’s comprehensive learning environments available in all of our schools. This only renews the current level of support and is not a raise. Postal ballots are available from September 17 and in-person voting will take place on November 2.
Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the facts surrounding the renewal of the levy referendum issue so that you can make an informed decision to have a positive impact on our students.
John Double is Associate Director of the Albert Lea Online Academy.