Each December, we look back and reflect upon all we have accomplished throughout the year. 2020 has truly been a year like no other. While students, families, educators, and districts have all faced monumental challenges this year, they have also persevered to make great strides in virtual learning and educational equity and accessibility. Here at VHS Learning, we have also made the best of an unprecedented year and are ready to embrace a new year and all the changes it will bring.
Reflecting on 2020, VHS Learning had many exciting moments developing new partnerships, expanding course offerings, and working to make online learning accessible to students all over the world.
2020 began with our rebrand from “The Virtual High School” to VHS Learning, helping us to form a new identity that reinforces our values and our mission of providing students and teachers with collaborative and engaging learning opportunities.
In February, we announced a wide range of new courses, including American Sign Language 3, Physics, and an enhanced AP® English Literature and Composition course. VHS Learning also introduced AP® Latin for students who have already completed Latin 1, 2, and 3. And in the summer, VHS Learning began offering a course to help students write their college essays.
In early March, VHS Learning was proud to announce that we were granted accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC). This accreditation is a reflection of the quality of our program. Accreditation is awarded to schools that meet the ACS WASC criteria and have a history and support system indicating future sustainability.
On the cusp of the COVID-19 outbreak, VHS Learning reached out to schools facing closures to provide help and guidance in creating contingency plans as students and teachers shifted to distance learning. In the following months, our expert staff authored and contributed to many articles about online teaching strategies and best practices to help schools transition as quickly as possible, and during the summer months, we created two new professional learning opportunities for teaching online.
Following this trend of providing educators with professional development opportunities for virtual learning, VHS Learning partnered with UNESCO Pacific to present a webinar on “Best Practices in Distance Education to educators in the Pacific states.
This year VHS Learning also renewed its CSforALL commitment to expand access to computer science education for all students through a partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). The partnership offers free enrollments in AP® Computer Science Principles to high school students in rural areas. The NMSI partnership also extends to other AP courses, and has helped over 100 students from 15 rural schools challenge themselves through rigorous online Advanced Placement courses.
In the news, VHS Learning Associate Dean Stacy Young was featured in a SmartBrief article about five important considerations when teaching in an online course environment. I expanded on this topic in eSchool News, outlining seven keys to effective online learning. Later in the year, Associate Dean and AP Coordinator Kim Spangenberg presented her strategies for successful online learning, with her SmartBrief article titled “4 keys to making online learning work.”
Here at VHS Learning, we have so much to be thankful for, and we believe in giving back to our community. As the year came to a close our generous staff, as they have for the last ten years, made contributions to our local community food pantry. This year we were thrilled to collect donations in excess of $900 to help provide food to local families.
This year we are especially thankful for our many school partners. You have provided stability, structure, and connection for your students in this turbulent year, and kept learning alive while learning new skills yourselves. We hope you know the impact you have made on students near and far. We value your support for virtual learning every year, but most especially this year.
We are looking forward to the exciting new opportunities that 2021 presents. On behalf of all of us at VHS Learning, we wish you a healthy and happy new year!
President & CEO