Cleveland Public Schools Praised For Virtual Program
CLEVELAND, Oklahoma - A small town Oklahoma School district is making changes that are getting the attention of State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister along with dozens of other districts.
A new program at Cleveland High School is helping student choose their own educational path.
Cleveland Public Schools is facing the same problem districts all across Oklahoma are facing, teacher shortages, but a new virtual program is easing the burden.
"It is a fully online virtual environment that the kids learn at, but we have teachers here to mentor them, to tutor them, to provide the support that some of the other programs don't provide," said Cleveland Superintendent of Schools Dr. Aaron Espolt.
Cleveland Superintendent Dr. Aaron Espolt hosted nearly 60 education leaders from Northeast Oklahoma Friday to share ideas.
"They're taking risks. They are looking through the evidence, thoroughly researching new innovation," said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.
"We do something and then some of the other area schools do something, and we never really get an opportunity to share what those things are," Dr. Espolt said.
Cleveland Schools has found success with the Cleveland Personalized Academic Center. They started it a year and a half ago, and it's a new way to engage students and meet their needs. The online program allows students to work, take college courses, and go through school at their own pace.
Each student has to be there for at least 6 hours a day but can come in early or stay late.
"We have students that graduate a full year early because they can work on it at night, they can work on it at any time they want to," said Dr. Aaron Espolt, Cleveland Superintendent.
Superintendent Hofmeister said it's exciting to see the focus on meeting the needs of individual students.
"That's often very hard, and it's a challenge that technology helps to level the playing field or remove barriers," she said.
Dr. Espolt says rural school districts have to be creative.
"What we wanted to do at Cleveland was provide the choice. The choice for kids and the choice for parents," he said.
Sixty of the 500 high school students are enrolled in the program right now, but 35 are on the waiting list because they need more classroom space.