Roundtable Q&A Discussion About Virtual High School (2021)
Virtual High School alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Grace, Roseanne had to say about the school.
- 3:04 - What did you appreciate most about the school while you were with us? And how has it changed your perspective now that you have some distance from school now you've graduated?
- 6:25 - To the best of your knowledge, the most differentiates the school from others?
- 11:03 - What one thing would you change about the school for the better if you had to choose something?
- Show Full Video Contents
Highlights from the Q&A discussion
Grace — alum
Grace was leading the book club at VHS. She has enjoyed the convenience of the Virtual High School and enjoyed having all the course content in a single place and receiving great feedback from her teachers. She says she’s achieved lots of self-growth at VHS and has excelled in her courses.
- “I like the organization of the whole school. It's all done on one webpage. And I thought that was the best thing ever because I didn't have to run around all over the place. That was my favorite part. And I like the resources that were also included too, like, tutoring and email; all the teachers and staff were there. I was like, ‘oh, this is great, I don't have to go all over the place’ because I was in public school before, and my personal experience was that it was hectic.”
- “And personally, I like working all digitally, like keeping notes, doing assignments on the computer rather than keeping a book. And that's what I liked a lot. I just love how everything is right there and how user-friendly it is. Like if parents need to hop on and look at something, they can easily just poke around and get in there, or students, like children, can easily figure it out too.”
- “There's no books required. And I thought that was really neat, especially for private school. All your content is in one place. And I like how you can access all of it all at once, so you can prepare when coming into the lessons, you know what to look for. One of the things I did when I was there was that I looked at the final assignment, or what the exam was, so I could know what's going on, what assignment is going to be like, what do I need to look for? And I thought that was really nice.”
- “And I also like the extra credit. I like how you can hand those [assignments] in and get feedback from your teachers, and then they would pinpoint where you need to adjust. I found out from public school there was no extra credit or anything like that. And I like that opportunity [my schools provided me with] for sure.”
- “I like the feedback when it comes right in because I was able to adjust where I needed to go, and it helped a lot.”
- “[I would describe school as] thoughtful. I know because when I was applying for college and working my way around in my senior year, trying to figure out what I was going to do, they reminded me, and they helped me keep all my documents together and submit them and everything like that. So I thought that was really nice because I don't think I would get that help at a traditional school, or at least, in public school.”
- “I guess [the school is] really inclusive. I would say this because they have a lot of extracurriculars that they do— the meet and greet and the book club. I was part of the book club, which was a lot of fun. And I still go to a couple of sessions and it's really fun. There's a lot of great people there [participating] in great discussions.”
- “I know my mom was concerned about my last year not having any social interaction because I was used to going to school every day, talking to people, friends, teachers, staff, everybody. But I came to senior year and it was all online. She was concerned about me being isolated, and I was like, I don't think it's going to be that bad. And then when I showed up to virtual high school, there's a lot of interaction, like you're constantly emailing teachers back and forth, and I found a lot of them do care about your personal life and how they can accommodate you so you can succeed, compared to at least the school I went to, they cared a lot.”
- “Everybody comes from different backgrounds [in the book club], ages all over the place, quite literally all over the world, talking and discussing. It's quite awesome.”
- “As soon as you break it down and email, especially when you need help, it's something that's going to really make you succeed.”
- “I wish I was homeschooled all through high school because this is so smooth. Compared to the other three years I did a lot more than others, and I was thinking about it because I know a lot of my friends who are still in a brick and mortar school. They wish that they had, like, a prom and dances and stuff, and I don't particularly miss it. I wasn't one to attend it or anything. I think I went to semi-formal twice. I'm good without it.”
- “With VHS, there's a lot of getting together, meeting your peers and stuff, even though you're across the world.”
- “I looked back to my exam results from the first three years of high school and then to this year, and they're like, way up, extremely high. I think that because I got to write them at home. It is proctored and everything, yeah, you can't cheat. You actually have to work. And I think just being in my own environment helped a lot, too.”
- “The courses are up to date. So one of the newest courses that I took was the music business … . That is so cool. So excited about it in the history and philosophy classes. They were fabulous because they actually connected to real life events that happened recently. It was awesome.”
- “I honestly think [it is helpful having a] routine and having somebody there, whether it's teachers or the staff, also the tech guys at VHS. If there was a broken link, like they were there within two minutes.”
Roseanne — current parent
Roseanne’s daughter and son both attend Virtual High School. Roseanne is grateful she found a suitable option that did not require an Ontario student record for her children who come from homeschooling. Her kids enjoy the clarity, as well as reliable and supportive culture of the school, where they learn to take agency over their education.
- “I did appreciate just how it was organized. It just seemed like everything was clear and you could see what all the assignments were. Yeah, I know my kids appreciated that.”
- “It would be nice if there were more of those sorts of [creative] options. Because that's really the only reason that my kids took any courses with any other online schools because my daughter is going into fashion design. A few more creative things would have been a nice one for sure.”
- “Like my daughter took piano for quite a few years, so she was able to get a prerequisite waiver to take Grade 12 music because she studied music for years. But it would have been nice if she could have taken music all the way through, like at Grade 10 or 11, if there was some with VHS. Yeah, if there were a broader range of courses available, … maybe just a few more creative things, I think that would be really my only beef.”
- “My daughter was in Girl Guides all the way through from Brownies up. My son has been in Scouts. He was an air cadet. They're involved in a youth group at church. They have plenty of social interaction. And I find that being homeschooled, they mix easily with all age groups. They were not uncomfortable, even when they were young.”
- “[The most surprising aspect of this school is] probably … how supportive and actually social it is. I found that not only were the teachers quite communicative with my students when they had questions or anything like that, but I found when I had issues that I ever needed to address the staff about, like, different things about guidance or their volunteer hours or whatever, everyone was very quick to get back to me. It was very open, very friendly. And the tutoring as well was immediate. Somebody was always there to help and come alongside if they needed help with any issue. So I think people would be surprised that it isn't just a computer screen. There's people behind the screen that they can reach out to, talk to. I think they might find that surprising.”
- “I would say this is a school that gives your child agency over their own education in a way because they can directly go to the teachers if they have an issue. … Especially, when you have an issue like you really need to know something and if you feel like somebody's going to get back to you quickly, you appreciate that. ... They can feel like they can work at their own pace. They can have some say, have some interaction. It's just good all around.”
- “There was so much communication with the students and tutoring was available. There was so much help for them.”
- “There are certain credits they have to take, but you can choose to work at your own pace if you want to get this course out of the way sooner so you can work on your fun stuff. I think it's just giving them a real sense of ownership of their own learning, learning about themselves, learning their own style, how they do it, and then working with their strengths, and the teachers can help you with your weaknesses.”
- “It was good for learning independence and managing your own time because there's no due dates. So you have to plan it out at the beginning of the year. And I don't know if I mentioned that before, but you can kind of have a way of tracking it. Sort of like planning out your timeline scheduling tools. That's been very helpful. But because time management is a skill that you need, I think they feel that they have independence. This is a much better feeling like they're sort of in charge of their own studies. The assignments are clear. The website is easy to use. The teachers are very responsive.”
- “Now, personally, I haven't really been involved with the community beyond the staff that I've dealt with. It's not like I've met other parents or anything like that, but as for the values of the school, they really are all about making sure the students learn and can excel on their own in this new digital world. They're really all about empowering them to take charge of their own learning, understand what their strengths are, and work on the weaknesses. They're just all about the students. They really want them to do well, and they want to help them do well and give them the tools to do it. It's a very supportive community for the students.”
- “I know my kids have said some of the discussion boards and things that they've been involved in, where they can kind of talk together and get feedback, are really wonderful. I think it's a very supportive community. Both the staff that I've ever needed to speak to, or the teachers, are great. They're really helpful. I think it's a great community.”
- “My kids are only two years apart, but even within that time … there were a couple of classes that had even changed and been updated since my daughter took them. We're talking about two years difference. So they're really on top of keeping [the content] current.”
- “I would just say I really appreciate the fact that my kids were able to have in the middle of so much else that was changing and upsetting, school was the same every day. So the fact that it didn't change at all, they still had access to their teachers and tutors if they needed it. That was a huge thing that did not change. Like in the middle of so much. That was something I so appreciated, the staff has been great. I imagine a lot of them have been working remotely, but that doesn't matter. They've still gotten back to me quickly. They've been very helpful.”