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Bedford High preps for virtual program

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Beth Taylor’s classroom at Bedford High School in Temperance has 18 desktop computers and four laptops that students can borrow. Teachers are on hand to offer personal attention.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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TEMPERANCE — The new virtual academy at Bedford High School is readying for the Sept. 2 start of classes, and accepting applications from students looking for a nontraditional learning environment with all the Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements needed to earn a diploma.

Instructor Beth Taylor said the class has room for 30 students, and 39 have expressed interest so far.

The virtual academy is a pilot program for the 2014-2015 year, and its purpose “is to reach students who may struggle in traditional classrooms,” said Ms. Taylor, an 18-year special-needs teacher in the Bedford district, who radiates enthusiasm for her new position.

These students, she added, may have various learning difficulties, such as medical, social, and academic, that the virtual academy could help them overcome. She said she knew an 18-year-old student who worked full-time during the day so he couldn’t go to conventional classes. But he could do classwork online from home.

Ms. Taylor urged anyone with questions to email her at elizabeth.taylor@mybedford.us. Bedford High School is a Michigan school of choice, so any student in the state can apply, she said.

The pilot program is another part of the school district’‍s educational mission, said Edward Manuszak, assistant superintendent for instruction and student services.

“Our students’ needs come first, and we want to offer as many ways for students to be successful as possible,” he said. “Our goal is to have a program in place that offers students just that chance, but on their own terms. We visited other public school virtual academies and simply combined all of the successful aspects of each of those into the one we are launching this fall.”

The curriculum includes the four core areas: math, science, English, and history, as well as foreign languages, another graduation requirement.

Ms. Taylor’‍s classroom has 18 desktop computers and four laptops, which students can borrow. Students can work online, but they’ll also get personal attention from teachers.

She said she wants to offer instruction in so-called “soft skills,” such as time management and task persistence, and she wants to make the virtual academy a regular offering beyond its trial year.

“I’m excited,” she said.

Contact Carl Ryan at: carlryan@theblade.com or 419-724-6095.

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