BCS Virtual Academy begins 1st year

Published 7:24 pm Thursday, September 21, 2017

Beaufort County Schools’ Virtual Academy has officially launched.

The online schooling option was ready for students to start the 2017-18 year after months of preparation. Virtual academies are cropping up all over the United States and North Carolina, but this is the first time Beaufort County launched a virtual academy of its own.

As of now, the academy only serves high school students. Courses include English I-IV, math I-III, calculus, biology, chemistry, history, foreign languages and music, among others.

Andrea Lilley, executive director of instructional services at BCS, said this year’s enrollment was lower than school officials had hoped, but a small number can be a good thing for the first year.

“We wanted to start small to ensure success,” Lilley said. “We are continuing to advertise to increase enrollment for the spring, summer and next school year.”

She said students who are not enrolled at this time are able to enroll for courses in the spring and summer. The virtual academy is meant to be flexible, and offers “multiple curriculum options to meet the needs of every kind of learner,” according to Lilley.

The BCS Virtual Academy is funded through the state with enrollment-based funding already in place, according to Superintendent Dr. Don Phipps. Students must enroll in at least two courses per semester.

To help the students along, licensed teachers from BCS, North Carolina Virtual Public School and the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics lead the courses.

“They really have to be committed to doing it. It’s not for every student,” Phipps said at an informational meeting earlier this year.

Phipps said that as the number of participating students grows, so does the number of courses offered. Having more students also opens the door to adding principal and counselor positions for the online academy, he said.

Between an ongoing partnership with Beaufort County Community College, Career and Technical Education courses and now the virtual academy, BCS is continuing one of its goals to serve as many students’ needs as possible.

“Students have been working hard the first three weeks of school and look forward to continued success,” Lilley said.