WELLSBORO – The Wellsboro Online Academy has evolved since its inception in 2003, and offers an alternative education model for students and families.
Ben Largey, psychologist and administrator of Wellsboro Online Academy, presented information on the past and present of the program and a glimpse into the future during the working session on October 5.
Originally, the school district’s online learning environment was KnowledgeNet, and in the early years it had 3-7 students, Largey said. In 2007, the district changed its name and began offering teacher-led classes.
The district changed again in 2010, developing a plan to offer several blended learning options and requiring all students in the school to take an online course as part of the graduation requirements. The district has focused on the certification of teachers in all fields and at all levels.
One of the goals, Largey said, was to compete with charter cyber schools, which receive funds from the school district for local students who attend. In 2013, the district focused on recruiting and retaining these students.
The WOA enables students and families to maintain a connection with the school community, while providing blended learning options. Local teachers are able to help students when there is a roadblock.
Over the past 10 years, enrollments have fluctuated between 23 and 44 students. It grew to 50 students in 2020-21 during the pandemic and is now at 70 students.
Wellsboro has been recognized as an innovator and leader in online program models, Largey said. A Cyber Room allows students to come face to face to receive help. The Cyber Room was closed last year, but reopened this year. Between 5 and 15 students visit in a week, said Tammy Knowlton, senior online teacher. This is Knowlton’s first year in this position, also a first for the district. Its role is to help students and to try to involve online students who are not involved in the learning environment.
Online learning is not for all students, Largey said.
Future goals include recruiting new teachers for teaching, adding to course offerings, researching more synchronous course offerings, and exploring partnerships with other school districts, he said. .