JEFFERSON, La. (WGNO) — “It’s proven to be a success,” Jefferson Parish Virtual High School Principal Mia Matherne said about the school’s inaugural year.
Nearly 150 students in Jefferson Parish attended the virtual school for the 2021-22 year.
“We get to focus on ourselves and we get to be closer to our family,” sophomore Cesar Vazquez said.
According to Matherne, the curriculum was designed to cater to students deemed “self-motivated.”
Jefferson Parish was the only district still offering distance learning for the last school year. Their virtual school was the only one that was full-staffed.
“It’s a problem across the country,” Chief Innovation Officer for New Schools for New Orleans Alex Jarrell said. “We’ve seen applications to teacher preparation programs plummet by over 35% and this is really acute in urban areas like New Orleans.”
Jarrell added, NOLA Public Schools needed 900 teachers to fill the void, as of the end of May. According to a survey done by NSNO, those prospects were looking for flexibility.
“Schools in New Orleans are starting to tinker with four day work day weeks,” Jarrell said. “Virtual could be an option.”
However, some districts wanted more proof that it was enough for students.
“Our school performance has grown from our baseline at the beginning of the school year and we’re continuing to see growth,” Matherne said.
According to her, it’s because students were not stuck at home. They still came to campus for testing and extracurriculars.
“I did the boys club where we talk about everything,” Vazquez said. “I think it’s a good idea because it’s a good learning experience and it’s a lot more interesting.”
New Schools for New Orleans launched a teacher job board to help future teachers choose the right campus for them. The organization also started working on a program to get high school seniors future jobs at their alma mater.