Administrator’s Corner: Online academy offers opportunities

Published 8:00 pm Friday, September 24, 2021

Administrator’s Corner by John Double

This year is the inaugural year for the Albert Lea Online Academy. The Albert Lea Area Schools recognized that there were learners who succeeded in a virtual environment, understood that there would be families looking for an online environment, and thus applied to the state of Minnesota for approval. In June we received our approval to offer our students in grades 4-12 a new online educational option as part of our school district.

John Double

The Albert Lea Online Academy is different from our virtual options in the past. The courses are completed in independent study style courses where parents/guardians are the student’s learning coaches. The learning coaches support their learners at home with attendance, assignment submission and support as needed. The teachers support both the learning coaches and the students and correct student submissions. Our online academy also has a school counselor, who is also an online mentor, to work with our students and families.

Our online academy offers courses based on the Minnesota state standards in a variety of areas.  While we offer all of the core courses, we also offer Advanced Placement (AP) and Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses.  While we won’t have the students welding in their kitchens, we do offer a variety of introductory and exploration courses to introduce students to various career fields. Students in the online academy, also have access to the in-person performance music course options (band, choir and orchestra) as well as our work-based learning courses. These blended-learning options are a great opportunity for our students.

There were a few factors that drew me to Albert Lea over a decade ago. One of those was hearing about how supportive our community was of the school system. Another was how our school system continually is looking to improve education and educational opportunities (like adding the online academy). As an educator and administrator, those were both important to me and made the Albert Lea Area Schools stand out amongst its peers.

There are two major things that can be done this fall to continue that community support for our school district. 

Families of current students can make sure to complete and return the Application for Educational Benefits forms to their schools. These forms may not only qualify families for free or reduced meal prices, they may provide other financial support to the district, assisting us in reducing class sizes and providing additional support for students. 

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, the next opportunity to support our school system comes to a vote. Our community will be voting on a question to renew the current levy referendum to support our school district’s comprehensive learning environments available in all of our schools. This is only renewing the current level of support and is not an increase. Absentee ballots are available beginning Sept. 17 and in-person voting will be on Nov. 2. 

Please take some time to become familiar with the facts around the levy referendum renewal question so you can make an informed decision to positively impact our students. 

John Double is associate principal of the Albert Lea Online Academy.