CEOKID spoke to Dr. Kaye Rogers, the Director of Virtual Learning for iUniversity Prep, an online public school in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, based in Texas. iUniversity Prep is designed to give parents and students the flexibility they need to pursue activities outside of academics while preparing them to be successful in college. Kids who are self-starters with excellent time management skills are the perfect candidates for online school.
Tell us about iUniversity Prep.
iUniversity Prep is a public school through the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. It is a full time online school. I am an enthusiastic cheerleader for choice with families. Whether that right fit is online school or traditional school, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD has many specialty schools and programs to offer choice for parents.
As a public school, some of what defines the choices is the level and the rigor we have in our district. iUniversity Prep is an academy for college-bound students who excel at independent learning and need or want a self-determined school schedule that can accommodate extra-curricular activities, travel, medical needs, or family time.
What does your role as the Director of Virtual Learning entail?
I oversee the district’s full time online public school, as well as our blended learning program for the district. The blended learning program is just for students in our district, but iUniversity Prep is open to any student in Texas who meets eligibility requirements. You can learn more about those requirements on the iUniversity Prep website, but generally speaking: Students are eligible to apply for enrollment in our online school if they have been in a public school at some point during the last school year. They have to be a Texas resident and be at grade level or above academically. They also need to have passed all previous STAAR tests at grade level.
How did your career in education begin?
I was a math and science teacher back in the day. I have taught abroad, in inner city schools and suburban schools. During those years, I was always making notes in a composition book about what I would do when I had the opportunity to lead. When I moved into administration, I had the opportunity to build a school from the bottom up and begin to put some of those ideas into action. I then got into virtual learning and education consulting, which ultimately led to me being hired to develop and open iUniversity Prep. I am a believer that school should not be a one-size-fits-all proposition for kids, and that it’s possible to create choices and diverse learning experiences in a public school setting. I also think it is important to transition school options to keep pace with the busy lives our kids have today. The activities and accomplishments of the students at iUniversity Prep are truly amazing. We have skaters, gymnasts, dancers, actors, athletes, artists, and entrepreneurs. We have many kids who travel the world, representing our country in competitions, and students who are already pursuing their chosen careers. The flexible schedule that our school offers makes it possible for these students to perform in these activities at a high level – and to pursue their dreams.
What is the first step a mom should take to determine if online school is right for her children?
Kids who are most successful in an online school are tech savvy, self-starters, have time management skills and know how to speak up for themselves if they have a problem. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. If you’re considering online school, some questions to ask include: What is my child’s learning style? What kind of activities is he doing outside of school, and will a self-directed school schedule benefit those activities? Does my child have trouble with self-management, or is she motivated and organized? Am I available to provide the support and assistance that my child will need to be successful in an online environment?
Other than being a virtual academy, how does iUniversity Prep differ from traditional public schools?At iUniversity Prep we make every effort to know the whole child, something that can be difficult to accomplish in a traditional school setting, particular in bigger schools. We use a student-first, individualized approach to instruction that focuses on building relationships with our students and with families—both in the classroom and outside the classroom—through club activities, field trips, and meetups, which happen both virtually and face to face. The foundation we offer at iUniversity Prep sets up a really strong structure for kids to be successful academically and in their non-school or extra-curricular lives—and it also sets our students up for a strong start when they begin college. Some kids struggle as they adjust to the demand for self-direction that’s required in college—but we’ve observed that our students make the college transition without skipping a beat, because they’ve already got the tools and skill sets they need to organize themselves and work independently.
How does iUniversity Prep prepare students for community leadership and entrepreneurship? What are some of the courses that pertain to leadership development?
We offer college and career-ready courses at our high school and middle school. We also participate in the National Honor Society, which requires community service hours, and we encourage our students to complete internships that help them build their resumes.
What are your top 3 tips to help children be successful in a virtual school environment?
First off, know that setting and sticking to a schedule is important. Deadlines can be more flexible in an online environment, so it’s best to work ahead whenever you can, rather than run the risk of having too much to do at the end of the semester. Also, be sure and stay on top of communications – contact your child’s teacher as soon as you have a problem or a question. Lastly, make sure that your student is spending time away from the computer and out of the house. Whether it’s participation in sports, youth organizations, or volunteering, physical activity and social interactions outside of the school environment will help your student maintain a healthy balance of academic success and overall wellbeing.
To learn more about iUniversity Prep visit http://www.iuniversityprep.org.