As the snow falls outside our school’s windows, I have to finally accept that fall is over and that I will most likely be tobogganing over the holidays with my grandsons. They like a little danger in the run, so building a jump halfway down the hill to give them a little air time will be required. This past year has also been a year of exhilarating air time for Virtual High School. Some of the highlights from 2016 follow:
The VHS Mathematics department created and released two new courses: Interdisciplinary Studies, Data Science (IDC4U DAT) and Mathematics for College Technology (MCT4C). The IDC4U DAT course required that we work with IBM and Fireside Analytics Inc. to combine theories from International Business Fundamentals (BBB4M), Mathematics of Data Management (MDM4U), and Computer Science (ICS4U) to cover concepts in the area of Data Science. Data scientists require skills and experience in all three disciplines in order to be able to analyze data, provide insights, and offer suggestions based on data. Students gain practical experience with Data Science tools such as R programming and IBM’s Data Scientist Workbench. Students in the course also evaluate case studies based on real world business problems. The MCT4C course will help prepare students for a variety of college technology programs. The Mathematics department also created a new popup calculator tool for students to use within their courses.
The Health and Physical Education department released Introduction to Kinesiology (PSK4U), a course that helps prepare students for university programs in physical education and health, kinesiology, health sciences, health studies, recreation, sports administration, and more.
Our Social Sciences and Humanities and Canadian and World Studies departments have been quite busy upgrading their courses in response to new Ministry of Education curriculum documents. Additionally, Nutrition and Health (HFA4U) was recently released. In HFA4U, students learn about healthful eating and other topics in this course which has proven to be extremely popular since its release.
For years, we have provided two final exam options to students:
- Students could choose to make the trip to VHS and write it under the supervision of our staff
- Students could choose to arrange an approved person to act as a proctor and write the exam from another location
This year, we added a third option, Examity, to further support students by offering the flexibility of last minute exam scheduling. Examity has been very successful so far, with over 1000 students taking advantage of this option in the second half of the year.
Virtual Elementary School
Under the guidance and leadership of Linda Ruffolo and Emily Douwes, Virtual Elementary School (VES) enrollments have increased exponentially this year in both the independent and facilitated versions of our nine Grade 5 to 8 courses. I attribute the increased enrollment to all of the work Linda and Emily have put into re-working the VES website as well as their other marketing efforts. They also produced and developed the Grade 5 Language course for student enrollment. The growing interest in online learning at the elementary level is exciting.
September saw over 100 runners and walkers in Bayfield participating in our 4th annual Run4Kids 5 km route around Bayfield to raise money for Memphis —a 9 year old boy living with Cystic Fibrosis. Memphis is a member of Make-A-Wish® Southwestern Ontario. The participation in this charitable activity has been growing every year. The efforts of Jackie Loebach, Stacy Schulz, Lisa Bedard, Tames Irvine, Emily Santos, Nicki Darbyson, Chris Hamelin, Jan Vanden Hengel, John Smallwood, Kim Loebach, Cathy Fisher, and other Bayfield Optimist Club members resulted in the largest amount raised from Run4Kids to date: $7754.
Virtual High School
VHS continues to grow and expand – a direct result of the quality and professionalism of the people we have within our organization. We now have 91 teachers who continue to be the cornerstone of our school. In their daily interaction with their students, our teachers carry out their duties with dedication by providing expert, personal support of our students. VHS also has a growing administration staff of 12 persons providing guidance to the students, communicating with a host of post-secondary institutions, enrolling students into their courses, maintaining OSRs, handling all communications with schools, parents, teachers, and students, producing report cards and transcripts, and providing many other services for our student body. We have also greatly expanded our team of content developers here at the office as we tackle the building of thirty-six new courses for a third party in the USA. This project will help build out our teams, giving them experience at creating and developing content at the K-5 level.
The changes at VHS are exciting, and we look forward to another great year in 2017.
Steve Baker, Principal and CEO of Virtual High School.