The 21-22 school year at the Pendleton Virtual Learning Academy (PVLA) is starting out strong, according to Jenny Corey, the K-8 PVLA Coordinator. Currently, 73 students are enrolled in the Pendleton School District’s K-8 online learning program, an increase from last year’s 56 students.
This is the second year the PVLA has been operating, and Corey has been busy communicating with families, helping troubleshoot technology issues and planning for her afternoon Learning Labs. PVLA students in K-8 levels have the option of attending these in-person Learning Labs twice a week in Corey’s classroom, where she teachers STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) activities. The labs are divided into age levels K-2, 3-5 and 6-8, and the small groups of about 12 students offer time to learn with peers and do interactive art and science projects. “These are a positive opportunity for students in our program that they wouldn’t get with other online learning platforms,” Corey said. The groups will go on field trips when COVID protocols allow. Corey also does home visits with students, provides tutoring and helps connect families with community wraparound services.
Although licensed teachers teach students online through PVLA, Corey said students’ parents or guardians at home are their “learning coaches.” PVLA students remain enrolled in the Pendleton School District and can participate in school activities like sports, music and student organizations, can attend school assemblies and receive Special Education services, as well as receive social emotional learning support and counseling.
Students have the same state requirements for attendance, grading and state testing, and they receive PSD report cards and attend parent-teacher conferences. Corey said families choose the online program for a variety of reasons, including COVID concerns, flexibility for family travel and for students who have anxiety or are not successful in the traditional school day.
PVLA is part of the InterMountain ESD’s Virtual Learning Academy platform, which provides all the teachers. Seventh and eighth graders in Pendleton can choose a hybrid enrollment, take some PVLA classes, and attend some in-person classes at Sunridge. PVLA students in 9-12 grades have a separate program with a different coordinator.
Corey said that PVLA works to fit every student’s needs and help them stay connected to PSD services. “These are our students, and they are part of our district and our community. Helping them be successful is our district’s mission.”