REGION – It’s fall in Vermont, and as the natural landscape changes to showcase vibrant, new colors, so does our educational landscape.
The Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative (VTVLC) works in partnership with local, brick-and-mortar schools to overcome the three most common barriers that prevent students in a traditional school setting from taking the courses they want or need: availability of courses, accessibility to courses, and flexibility in their education.
Last year, we launched our full-time K-8 program at VTVLC for students across the state of Vermont. Our mission for the K-8 program is for all learners to demonstrate academic, emotional, and personal growth while experiencing the joy of learning, cultivating a tangible community, and connecting virtually through modern technology.
On Friday, Sept. 29, VTVLC hosted a Fall Fun Day to celebrate the onset of fall with our full-time K-8 students, both virtually and in person. Our first stop was a virtual trip to the Wolf Conservation Center in Salem, N.Y. Here, students were given a tour of the conservation center and were able to see live grey wolves, red wolves, and Mexican wolves in protected habitats. Students were able to ask questions of the wolf expert and left with a greater understanding of how wolves are important creatures in the ecosystems they are a part of.
After breaking for lunch, families reconvened in person for a Fall Foliage hike along the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail to Dog Head Falls in Johnson, where many of our students got to meet each other and their teachers for the first time outside of their virtual classrooms.
“It was really fun to chat with people in my class and see the amazing falls,” Sophie reflected after the hike. “[In-person meetups like these] are important because it is nice to interact with the people you see on your screen every day.” Other students noted that the experience was a positive one, where they were glad to share a fun learning opportunity together and connect in person with each other. “I think the hike was fun, and it would be interesting to do something like that again,” said a seventh-grade student after the trip. “[Getting to take part in more] outside activities would be really fun,” responded Sophie.
VTVLC students have been invested in coming together and forming a wide array of social clubs and interest groups, including a chapter of GSA, a fashion and design club, book clubs, and Dungeons & Dragons. As our program continues to grow, we are looking forward to more outside-the-box adventures such as these to bring our learners together in ways beyond the virtual classroom. Where will your learning take you? VTVLC students know theirs can take them anywhere.
For more information on Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative’s full-time K-8 program, check out our website at www.vtvlc.org/.
By Harold Vance, Grades 7 & 8 Teacher at VTVLC.