By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Three Westborough High School (WHS) teachers – Paul Vital, Nicole Miller and Nancy Powers – were recognized recently for their participation in the Virtual High School Collaborative (VHS) online courses program. The educators were honored for helping to pave the way for online education in the state and expanding educational opportunities for local students by facilitating and teaching VHS courses.
The non-profit company, according to VHS spokesperson Carol Arnold, has been a pioneer in online courses for the past 15 years. It was started with a federally funded grant in Massachusetts and since then, has expanded to include students from around the world. WHS was one of the first schools to pilot the program.
The way it works is that students can sign up to take a class that is taught by a teacher that has been trained by VHS in NetCourse Instructional Methodologies.
Students may do their work at any time of the day or night but are committed to finishing assignments and course work by specified times similar to the requirements of a traditional high school course.
“It's a way to enhance the work of educators, not replace them,” Arnold said. “Students also develop time management skills as well as have the chance to interact, via online forums with other students. It's a great way to “meet” and establish relationships with kids from around the globe.”
“Over 400 classes are offered. As these courses typically are not offered at most high schools; taking one from the VHS program allows a student to “get their feet wet in a subject,” she added.
75 WHS students took classes in this program last year, ranging from Criminology, Intentional Business, Pre-veterinarian studies, Video Game Design and a host of AP courses.
Vital, who recently retired, was the computer science and business team chair at WHS and VHS program coordinator. He had been teaching online classes for 15 years.
Power teaches Practical Law and Miller teachers Psychology I. Craig McCoskery will be teaching Algebra 1 this fall.
“VHS classes give our students a wider diversity and range of courses to take including AP courses we don's offer here at WHS,” said Miller. “Online learning also prepares students for college as many courses are now are either blended course or online. I would say the future of VHS is that it is here to stay.”
The teachers were recognized for their work and given awards by VHS Collaborative President and CEO Jeffrey Elliott in a ceremony at WHS last month.