The St. Clair County Virtual Preparatory Academy offers students an alternative to other schools, while still giving them an accredited education.

On Tuesday, the SCC Virtual Preparatory Academy opened a new location for students to meet with teachers one-on-one, have a place to study and take tests, and interact with other students.

St. Clair Virtual Preparatory Academy is located in the old Metro Bank location in the Moody Professional Building at 2603 Moody Parkway.

The program is open to students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Last year the program was piloted in St. Clair County, and this is the first full year for the virtual school, which is one of 13 in the state.

“This is a blended school,” said St. Clair County School Superintendent Mike Howard. “Students can take classes virtually and have one-on-one instruction with teachers in a classroom setting.”

The virtual school pairs digital learning with personalized attention through innovative web-based tools. The program currently has 283 students, and is growing by a rate of about 20 students a week, according to Howard.

Students include those in homeschool programs, high school students who work full-time to support families, children of military or overseas families, medically homebound students, students seeking advanced learning challenges and those who have fallen behind academically. Many choose the program because it offers the same accredited curriculum as public schools, more than 150 courses, including NCAA-approved core courses, with a more flexible schedule and it is completely free for students.

Students also have opportunities to interact and connect with teachers and other students. SCC Virtual Preparatory Academy students can join student clubs, field trips, and weekly on-campus gatherings. Students who reside in St. Clair County can continue to participate in several extra- curricular activities and even play sports at the school for which they are zoned.

“Any student can apply and be a part of the program,” said Howard. “Not just those in St. Clair County.”

Director of Alternative Programs Joe Goble, who is the head of the St. Clair Virtual Preparatory Academy, is excited to see the program grow.

“We believe freedom and flexibility empower our students to succeed,” it states in the program brochure. “Given the many choices we offer, we’re here to help students and parents explore our options and create a personalized educational plan that fits a students unique needs.”

The academy currently has 10 staff members, a mix of full-time and retired teachers.

Goble hopes the program can continue to grow, and offer more satellite locations for additional educational options in the future.

For more information on the St. Clair County Virtual Preparatory Academy, visit www.sccboe.org , email Joe Goble at joe.goble@sccboe.org . You can also take a survey to see if the virtual school is right for your student at https://tinyurl.com/SCCVirtualPrep.

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