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Florida Virtual School Announces 2022 Teacher of the Year
Feb 11, 2021
Florida Virtual School (FLVS), a statewide online public school district, is proud to announce the FLVS representative for the Florida Department of Education’s 2022 Teacher of the Year program is Hali Van Reeth.
Hali Van Reeth was selected as the 2022 FLVS Teacher of the Year from more than 2,400 instructors. Van Reeth, an FLVS Flex Middle School Comprehensive Science Teacher, recognizes that the learning needs are different for each student and strives to help each student succeed. She works with at-risk students re-shaping their perspective of school and/or helping them through challenging experiences and/or times in their lives resulting in a positive and inspiring impact on each student. Van Reeth, who has been with FLVS for more than five years, also serves as a Lead Teacher and Academic Success Coach in her subject area.
“It is a privilege to be the FLVS 2022 Teacher of the Year. I’m honored to represent not only FLVS but the dedicated and caring teachers I work with every day!” said Van Reeth. “Last year, the world was faced with the outbreak of COVID-19. Students and families were challenged with becoming teachers and helping their children learn from home. FLVS was there, and is still here, doing what we know best: providing high-quality, flexible, individualized education to thousands of students and families seeking alternatives to traditional school. I couldn’t imagine a more humbling honor than representing our teachers demonstrating what an amazing educational organization FLVS is as we continue to serve the individualized needs of our students and families. We are all teachers of the year!”
“Hali Van Reeth’s passion for individual student success shines through in her passion for reaching at-risk students and helping them to achieve their academic goals,” said Dr. Louis J. Algaze, President and CEO for FLVS. “Ms. Van Reeth piloted a Response to Intervention (RTI) program for middle school science students during the 2019-20 academic year, bringing students, parents, and teachers together to implement individualized recovery plans for students at risk of course failure or withdrawal. That first year, Ms. Van Reeth’s program helped more than 1,000 at-risk students complete and pass their science courses. She is a pioneer who uses innovative methods to help students succeed.”
Hali Van Reeth is a resident of Lake Worth, Florida.
The Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year program celebrates the thousands of outstanding professional educators in Florida schools. To learn more about the program, visit www.fldoe.org.
Florida Virtual School Announces 2021 Principal of the Year
Feb 11, 2021
Florida Virtual School (FLVS), a statewide online public school district, recently announced the FLVS representative for the Florida Department of Education’s 2021 Principal of the Year program is Dominique Baroco.
Dominique Baroco, a nine-year veteran of FLVS, is the Principal/Instructional Leader who oversees the Chinese and French teams for FLVS Flex. She is a servant leader, an energetic champion of individual student success, and a pioneer of creative learning opportunities. Baroco has seamlessly led her team in helping students find their pathways to success by implementing a collaborative intervention process involving each individual student, parent, classroom teacher, and lead teacher.
“I am honored and humbled to be recognized as the Principal of the Year for Florida Virtual School. I have tremendous respect and gratitude for the teachers and mentors who have shaped me over the years, and the generous hearts and adept minds of all my colleagues, especially our teachers, inspire me in our shared mission,” said Baroco. “Alongside such admirable educators, it remains a daily privilege to speak to students, hear their stories and support their growth. When I look around at all those committed to providing a transformative education and personalizing it to every student, I see a bright future for our children, their learning and their possibilities."
“Dominique Baroco has impressed both her peers and the Leadership team with her enthusiasm for foreign language education, her methods of instructional innovation, and her own admirable leadership skills,” said Dr. Louis J. Algaze, President and CEO for FLVS. “A leader who has the respect of both those she leads and those to whom she reports is indeed an invaluable asset to any school.”
Dominique Baroco is a resident of Pensacola, Florida.
The Florida Department of Education Principal of the Year program honors principals who have spearheaded initiatives to increase student performance, promote safe learning environments and establish partnerships with parents and community members. To learn more about the program, visit www.fldoe.org.
Florida Virtual School Announces 2021 Assistant Principal of the Year
Feb 11, 2021
Florida Virtual School (FLVS), a statewide online public school district, recently announced the FLVS representative for the Florida Department of Education’s 2021 Assistant Principal of the Year program is Ronald “Keith” Mercer.
Keith Mercer joined FLVS in 2016 as a member of the pilot team for the FLVS Full Time Middle School. He and his team spent that first year managing the learning curve of this brand-new project, tracking results, and creating methods for improvement going forward. Mercer led his team to develop new live interactive lesson opportunities for students to keep them engaged and to help them learn and retain new material. His focus on cultivating learning in the classroom played an integral role in the “A” earned by the FLVS Full Time Middle School for the 2019-20 school year.
"I am incredibly honored to represent Florida Virtual School as the 2021 Assistant Principal of the Year. It is a privilege to serve our amazing staff, students and their families each day,” said Mercer. “I am so thankful to be surrounded by the most dedicated and hardworking educators in Florida.”
“Keith Mercer exemplifies what it means to be an outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year, exhibiting a passion and dedication in all he does to help students succeed,” said Dr. Louis J. Algaze, President and CEO for FLVS. “He leads by embracing the Florida Virtual School commitment, that the student is at the center of every decision we make.”
Keith Mercer is a resident of Dunedin, Florida.
The Florida Department of Education Assistant Principal of the Year program honors assistant principals who have utilized teamwork and leadership skills to increase student performance, promote safe learning environments and establish partnerships with parents and community members. To learn more about the program, visit www.fldoe.org.
FLVS Shares Creative Ideas for Counselors to Help Students Thrive in Virtual Learning Environments
Feb 01, 2021
In honor of National School Counseling Week (Feb. 1-5, 2021), Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is celebrating school counselors and sharing tips for counselors to help students thrive in virtual learning environments. With the challenges posed by the pandemic, school counselors around the country have played an important role in helping students stay on track with their education.
“Students have encountered so many new challenges, academically, mentally and socially. School counselors have been critical in helping students adjust, and the best way to do that is to meet students where they are,” said Amy La Grasta, Senior Manager, School Counseling for FLVS. “Thanks to technology, school counselors can provide the same services online as they do in person. Individual counseling or advisement can take place over Zoom, Google Meets or other platforms your school might have.”
National School Counseling Week is sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems. The week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. The theme of this year’s National School Counseling Week is “All in for All Students.”
FLVS school counselors have creative ways to shift their typical in-person activities to the remote environment. For example, the FLVS Flex School Counseling team created a YouTube channel called Mind Matters, which covers content ranging from mental health to college admissions. Students and families can view the content in their own time and many have made use of it.
Another way FLVS school counselors stay connected with students are large group school counseling activities, which can be done over a video conferencing platform and involve meeting with full classes, grade levels or an entire student body to teach skills all students will benefit from learning.
“Large group counseling activities are so valuable as they can reach many students at one time and can be recorded to be sent to students and families who need the content after the live event,” said Anne Flenner, Lead School Counselor for FLVS. “At FLVS, some of the activities we’ve offered covered online safety, mental health awareness or college placement tests during COVID-19.”
La Grasta and Flenner acknowledge that with so many new challenges for students and school counselors alike, knowing where to start can seem overwhelming. They suggest school counselors focus on helping students build the soft skills needed for virtual learning.
- Proactive Communication: Teachers don’t always know when a student is struggling, so school counselors can teach students how to reach out for help by writing effective emails and leaving appropriate voicemails. School counselors can also encourage educators to use technology familiar to students: texting, Zoom or even social media if appropriate.
- Time Management: If online learning does not need to follow a traditional school day schedule, school counselors can encourage students to utilize “chunking” format. Students focus on one subject for an extended amount of time, taking 2-3 hours to accomplish a task before moving onto the next. When students focus on the material, rather than jumping from subject to subject, they complete tasks efficiently and have better mastery of the topic.
- Motivation: Some students might find it difficult to complete schoolwork at home. School counselors can encourage students to create a dedicated workspace and set daily, weekly, monthly and semester goals to accomplish. School counselors can meet with students virtually to discuss future plans and goals, so they see the connection between their current work and future plans. They can hold regular check-ins for a few weeks to build rapport and establish a work pattern.
- Independent Learning: School counselors can provide organizational skills for independent learning by making sure students know expectations and deadlines and by helping them create pace charts and agendas. They can also praise the process when students go above and beyond or find creative ways to be successful.
- Problem Solving: They can use motivational interviewing techniques to encourage problem solving and encourage out-of-the-box thinking.
- Computer/Internet Literacy: School counselors can teach students about the soft skill concepts of computer literacy, such as academic integrity, plagiarism and doing one’s own work, netiquette, internet safety, etc.
- Strategizing/Prioritization: School counselors can help students see the big picture of their day, month, year and academic plan to help them prioritize what gets done each week as well as what needs to be done for annual promotion, completing middle school, meeting high school graduation requirements and more.
- Stress Management: Show students the benefits of screen time awareness, physical activity and time outside in nature. School counselors can also discuss how sleep, deep breathing, art and journaling can reduce stress.
For more information on school counseling services, families should visit FLVS Flex Counseling and Advisement or FLVS Full Time School Staff and Counselors.
FLVS Shares 30 Tips to Encourage Reading During "Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!"
Jan 25, 2021
In honor of Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! (Jan. 25-29, 2021), Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is sharing tips for parents to help encourage students’ love of reading. The importance of reading or being read to cannot be overstated, with an impact that extends beyond just hearing stories.
Young children who are exposed to certain early language and literacy experiences prove to be good readers later on in life. The Department of Education found the more students read or are read to for fun on their own time and at home, the higher their reading scores. Also, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), young children who are read to frequently are also more likely to: count to 20 or higher than those who were not (60% vs. 44%), write their own names (54% vs. 40%) and read or pretend to read (77% vs. 57%). NCES also found that children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who are read to less than three times a week.
Just as parents teach their children healthy habits like brushing their teeth or washing their hands, good reading habits must be taught. One of the best ways to foster such habits is for the adults in a child’s life to model a love of reading. Reading books is always helpful but parents can show children that reading can be done anywhere by finding the joy in reading everything from novels to cereal boxes or playing word games in the car.
FLVS teachers shared some of their favorite reading ideas, and some are unexpected.
Lead by Example:
- Model good reading habits by reading to or alongside children.
- Read the description on a movie before starting it – get a sneak peek into the storyline of the movie, make predictions and ask questions based on the description.
- Encourage reading, writing and discussions among family members.
- Encourage children to read new and challenging books, articles and magazines.
- Be positive when talking about children’s reading ability and skills.
- Expose children to different kinds of books such as novels, biographies and informational content.
- Create a “home library” for your family to access.
- Create a “reading nook” at home where children can read.
- Encourage children to write books about their day.
- Limit TV viewing by controlling the amount of time spent watching television.
- Visit the local public library and help children get library cards of their own.
Include Reading in Daily Routines:
- Establish a daily reading routine.
- Read the back of the cereal box at breakfast.
- Select a “word of the day” to add to children’s growing vocabulary.
- Before a family dinner, create place settings with first and last names.
- Make dessert time reading time. Read to your children while they enjoy their evening snack.
- Set aside additional reading time or add extra bedtime story time as a reward for good behavior.
Make Reading Even More Fun with Unexpected Games:
- Play word games.
- Play rhyming games during a car trip or at home.
- Play a find-the-street-sign game in the car and find words that start with various letters of the alphabet.
- Write out words with opposite meanings on separate pieces of paper and match pairs together.
- Play the “I Spy” game, looking for uppercase and lowercase letters.
- Make up a story by having each family member add a sentence to a story starter; expand on the individual character traits, the setting of the story and exciting events and adventures.
Show Kids Reading Opportunities Are Everywhere
- Take books in the car to read, rather than watching a DVD.
- Comment on new words on the radio or TV.
- Bake something. When following a recipe, children are not only practicing their reading skills, they are learning how to follow directions and work toward a goal.
- Turn on subtitles when watching a movie. Even before reading age, children will learn that what the characters are saying is associated with text. As they get older, they will be able to match words with text.
- Help label artwork with children’s names and ages.
- While playing outside, encourage children to create their names out of sticks, stones and other materials.
Help children read the labels on different bottles and containers, like shampoo bottles at bath time.