Hoosier Academy: A Virtual Education

By Rachel Martin

September 16, 2012 Updated Sep 16, 2012 at 5:00 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Who says a child has to learn inside the four walls of a traditional school building? For Jenni Walters and her son, Blake, a computer screen works just as well.

“It was not a good fit and he was pretty unhappy and we were unhappy and kind of looking for something else,” said Walters.

Walters tried homeschooling Blake, but that didn't work either. That's when they discovered Hoosier Academy, a virtual school.

“I thought it was going to be difficult and a little bit harder because there's not that much of a schedule. But it turned out a lot nicer, a lot easier,” said Blake, a 7th grade virtual student.

The Hoosier Academy is a public charter school authorized by Ball State University. It was created to cater to the individual needs of a student.

“If you have problems in the classroom, like if you get ahead of you get behind it's a little bit more flexible,” said Blake.

“It's really about giving students what they need to be successful,” said Shannon Hare, Academic Team Leader for Hoosier Academy.

Virtual students must still meet state requirements by taking ISTEP+ and other exams. Hoosier Academy is tuition-free, meaning all learning materials are provided, including a laptop if the family qualifies. With virtual learning, it's a classroom through internet connection.

“We have email that they are in constant communication with them, the parents and the teachers. We make phone calls. We talk on a daily basis with our families. We meet online in online classrooms. Really anything you can do in a traditional brick and mortar school we can really do online,” said Hare.

And the best part is Blake can still participate in extracurricular activities. Before Hoosier Academy he was too overwhelmed with homework to do so.

“He used to come home, was exhausted, didn't want to do stuff, and now he does the swim team and youth group and things like that,” said Walters.

Hare says Hoosier Academy was founded five years ago, and now 3,400 students are enrolled across Indiana, educating over 300 families in the Fort Wayne area.

“Overall he's happier, we're happier and he is learning,” said Walters.

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