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Flexibility brings success in WCSD online school
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Jul 26, 2013 | 1282 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Jessa, left, and Ashlyn Wright are preparing to enter another year at the Washoe Online Learning for the Future (WOLF) school on August 12. The sisters say the Washoe County School District online school provides flexibility for their busy schedules.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Jessa, left, and Ashlyn Wright are preparing to enter another year at the Washoe Online Learning for the Future (WOLF) school on August 12. The sisters say the Washoe County School District online school provides flexibility for their busy schedules.
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Ashlyn and Jessa Wright enjoy cramming their schedules full of activities, lessons and vacations throughout the year, partly because they can take their education with them. Missing school days is no longer a worry for the two Sparks residents.

The Wrights are enrolled in Washoe Online Learning for the Future (WOLF) school, an online education system through the Washoe County School District, which allows them to manage their time in the ‘classroom’ without interrupting their various activities. Flexibility was a common word when discussing the WCSD school, which both girls said is a major asset.

“I think the biggest advantage is that you can completely pick your own schedule,” Ashlyn said.

WOLF school principal Katy Hadley is entering her first year in control of the program and she said the identity of the school is a priority this year. Spreading the word about the school being fully staffed with WCSD teachers, maintaining a strong curriculum that includes gifted, Honors and Advanced Placement courses, is as important as ensuring interpersonal relationships are built among staff, students and parents.

“I think the most important thing for me this year is that we communicate to our community at large that WOLF is a real school,” Hadley said. “It is an alternative way of learning, but it is a comprehensive school. I want to dispel some of the misconceptions and I know we would very much like our numbers to grow and help any parents and students that maybe had gone to charter schools because they didn’t think that WCSD had this option.”

Hadley and WOLF school coordinator Sandi Foster oversee the school’s main office on W. 6th Street in Reno where teachers and administrators can collaborate to serve students and families. Foster said students can visit the office to work with teachers any time during the year, but it is merely an option to allow for all types of students Kindergarten through 12th grade.

“The purpose of the school is to provide an option for parents and for students,” Foster said. “Students who are looking for more flexible scheduling, or different modes of learning, for those who don’t work well in a traditional setting, they have this school at their disposal. We provide all the curriculum and we have WCSD highly qualified teachers that are available to the parents.

“Students can come in and meet one-on-one with our teachers. Our teachers also do live lessons that the students participate in and it is providing options for students and parents. I think days can be different for every student.

“We have some students who are pre-professional athletes so they are skiers, snowboarders, kayakers or tennis players and they may get up in the morning, go to practice and workout or go to competitions and then they log on and do their course work.”

Jessa, who is entering her eighth grade year at WOLF, said her training schedule for martial arts and piano lessons makes having a flexible school schedule vital. A flexible schedule also comes with flexible teachers, which has been a strong point for Jessa in the past.

“You can spend as long as you want on subjects,” Jessa said. “That's something I did, because I hate math and I was having a lot of trouble with a section. I was waiting for my teacher to email me back so I went ahead and did another week’s worth of English.

“Another thing I really like is that if you don’t feel comfortable calling them, because I do not like calling people on the phone, you can just email them, and if it something complicated, then you can go into a chatroom and you can chat with them right there.”

Ashlyn, who will be a junior at WOLF, echoed those sentiments saying that the teachers have been the biggest proponent of deep exploration in the curriculum, which she said has made her enjoy school rather than dread it.

“The teachers are amazing,” Ashlyn said. “They really care about all their students and our education, and about taking it beyond just what we have in the textbook and curriculum. They are always looking for ways to push it beyond that and have us really get into our subjects and really learn. They are amazing and they take so much time to get to know us personally and help us through our work.

“I feel like I have been doing a lot better and that I enjoy school a lot more since I have been in WOLF and they changed the curriculum to bring the teachers here as opposed to online teachers. I get really into it and it has helped more than anything.”

The school year kicks off earlier this year and WOLF, and all Washoe County schools, will begin classes on August 12. The school will hold an enrollment event on Wednesday for anyone wishing to sign up for the upcoming school year or ask any questions about the programs offered. More information can be found online at www.wolflearning.com.

Hadley said the enrollment event is just one of many gatherings that will boost the camaraderie of the WOLF community.

“Creating relationships with the teachers and staff goes without saying,” Hadley said, “But also, as a school, we have to create relationships with our parents. We would like to see a PTA or PTO be started. We would like our students to participate in others things like fundraising and help them understand service learning. We want to create a community here that you find at a school even though we are a virtual school.”
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