A pilot program in the Buckeye Valley Local School District is giving a few high school students the opportunity to study and work with peers from all over the world while taking courses that are otherwise not offered at the school.
Thanks to a partnership with Massachusetts-based nonprofit VHS Collaborative, four Buckeye Valley High School students are taking an online course this semester in business law.
“We’re trying to give kids the opportunity to go above and beyond and explore something that they are interested in,” principal Andy Miller said.
The students are taking the class along with all their normal coursework and miss no regular instruction time. The course is taught by business education teacher Chris Pileski, and student progress is monitored by Miller as well.
While still in its infancy stages, Miller believes that the program could grow and allow Buckeye Valley to offer an even broader curriculum or perhaps use some courses for credit recovery.
“I think we’ll take a look at it this year and see how it is working for us,” Miller said.
Buckeye Valley is currently one of just 20 Ohio school districts involved in the worldwide program, and Miller believes that it will be beneficial for both students and teachers. To be eligible to teach the class, Pileski volunteered to put in many hours of professional development. Even Miller himself has had to partake in professional development to oversee the program.
But the biggest benefit will be to the students that participate, Miller said. He pointed out that beyond offering courses not available at Buckeye Valley, most colleges today require some online coursework, giving students that participate in the program a jump start in a similar learning environment.
“The main goal that we would have with it is to enhance our kids’ course offerings,” Miller said. “If they have met their credits and want to explore something they are really interested in, it is a great opportunity for our kids.”
If the district does decide to move forward and expand the program, up to 25 students would have the opportunity to choose from more than 400 course offerings each semester, according to VHS Collaborative spokeswoman Carol Arnold.
“Pretty much anything you can think of, we offer it,” Arnold said.
Courses typically include students from up to three countries in each class, which will also help prepare students for college where diversity in the classroom is common. That diversity allows students to share ideas that they other might not be exposed to, Arnold said.
“The more exposure you have, the more fodder you have to inform your own opinion about something,” she said, adding that the program “really is all about preparing kids for college or their future careers.”