With the new school year underway, school officials across the city of Tullahoma came together to celebrate the eighth addition to the school system, the Tullahoma Virtual Academy.
TCS officials and guests gathered at the Community School Services building – the Old West – to celebrate the occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Tullahoma Area Chamber of Commerce. The Tullahoma Virtual Academy (TVA) was announced in May as an option available to students who can fully customize their secondary education while completing work at their own pace. The program is overseen by the Virtual Director, Dr. Greg English.
After the inauguration ceremony, the Director of English and the SDC, Dr Catherine Stephens, thanked the participants for their presence and spoke about the virtual academy.
“On behalf of the schools in the city of Tullahoma, this year we are so grateful that you are all here,” Stephens said. “You are such an invested community and our school district.”
According to Stephens, the idea for the virtual academy began a year ago when the school board and leadership team began developing a strategic plan and defining student needs for instruction and learning. learning, a virtual school taking over from discussion.
Although the school is primarily virtual, virtual students can come to the physical site to complete their classes, meet for study groups, or attend weekly live sessions. Students can also take advantage of the Tullahoma Virtual Café set up in the building, with plans to visit local businesses like bakeries and cafes to form partnerships.
“I don’t believe there is another virtual academy that offers something like this to its students,” English said. “We have a regular team coming in, and they really own that space, which is exactly what we want.”
Along with the opening of TVA, English said it was excited about the partnerships. When English was selected for his position, he applied for and received a grant from the Tennessee Department of Education for Innovative High School Models, which aims to foster local community partnerships that boost student readiness for college and prepare high school students to jobs and careers in their local communities.
The school district, along with Motlow State Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, and the city of Tullahoma, created a program called the Tullahoma Career Pathways Initiative (TCPI). English said that at the center of TCPI is an internship program for students, as TVA will rely heavily on career education with career and diploma coaches guiding students into potential careers by determining what interests them and how to get there.
For the partnership with Motlow, English hopes to expand dual enrollment options and said two virtual reality stations are on the way for students to learn how to create a virtual reality environment.
“They can make games, they can make training modules, and they can actually start making money doing this within a year of starting the program,” English said. “That’s something Motlow is happy to help us with.”
For TCAT, English said that due to the nature and flexibility that AC credit courses create in student schedules, it hopes to maximize the number of programs students can start with TCAT and earn their certificates. Regarding the partnership with the city, English said the city will help connect with local employers to offer internships.
Stephens said TVA’s dream is to grow and reach out to the lower classes and reach out to communicate with families about what it will look like.
“I’m not in a position to say that next year will necessarily be an expansion because we want to refine and really strengthen what we do and offer at the secondary level,” Stephens said, “but soon the lower grades will be a part of this great opportunity at the Tullahoma Virtual Academy.