In its first year, Springfield’s online school has about 50 full- and part-time students with hopes to double or triple that number.
About 35 students are taking their entire course load online through OnCourse, the online school for Springfield City School District, and 15 more are taking at least one course through the program, said Monica Fee, coordinator of virtual education.
“We have everything from elementary through high school, but the majority of our kids are secondary (students),” she said.
About 25 percent of the students are open enrolled to Springfield schools from another district.
Students can choose from three different programs to take their courses, a variety of electives, and can take courses on their grade level, accelerated or to recover credits if they’ve fallen behind.
Robbie Caffee, 17, of Springfield, started with OnCourse in November with the credits of a sophomore. He works two jobs and is now on track to graduate in May and plans to leave for boot camp for the Army National Guard this summer.
“I need to work because I have a kid, too,” he said. “My old school, Springfield High, it wasn’t working out, so I needed to do something else. I am graduating early, and it’s had a lot of benefits for me because I can work and still do class on my own time.”
He’s taking core classes like math and English as well as electives in criminology and forensic science, which he hopes to study at Clark State Community College after boot camp.
Online school may not be successful for every child, but students with good organizational and time management skills are generally a good fit, said Fee. She and teacher Jan Avende create a pacing calendar for students to follow to stay on track, counsel students about their progress and are available for counseling in tough subjects.
“Our students are so used to being online,” said Avende. “I have several students who have no problem sending me a message through the system or sending me an email, but they wouldn’t pick up a phone to call me.”
Increasing enrollment led the school to hire a new staff member, who started Monday, and Fee said she hopes to see the school more than double its enrollment.