Granville schools earn national recognition

Apr. 16, 2013 @ 03:56 PM

Granville Online began as an avenue to allow students who had fallen behind to recover credits needed to catch up.

But a good thing tends to find new uses.

In addition to allowing students to catch up, Granville Online allows other students to get ahead. And when students are unable to enroll in courses they need, whether because of scheduling conflicts or over-enrolled classes, Granville Online offers an alternative.

“We’ve been able to save kids who lacked a course to graduate,” said Granville County Schools Superintendent Timothy Farley.

The student response to Granville Online confirms the value of the program. More than 1,250 students in grades 5-12 were enrolled in 2011-12, and over 750 are enrolled this spring in more than 55 sections.

Now the value of the program is being recognized nationally.

Granville County Schools was selected as a first-place winner in the 19th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Boards Association. The school system was honored in the category of school districts with a 5,000-20,000 pupil enrollment. The award was presented on Sunday at the association’s 73rd annual conference in San Diego.

According to statement by Thomas J. Getzel, executive director of NSBA on NSBA website, the awards showcase work in local school districts across the country increasing achievement and success. Getzel said the winners were national models.

This isn’t the first award the program has received. In December, Granville County Schools was one of 10 schools and districts to be honored by the State Board of Education as an Innovator in Digital Learning Recognition.

Farley pointed out that Granville Online was developed by teachers specifically to meet the needs of students.

“I am mightily proud of the things our folks are doing in our schools to help our students,” he said. “The talented people we have working together have truly elevated the quality of education in our district.”

Farley added, “We want our students to have the same opportunities that kids in Wake or Mecklenburg have.

“I see it leading to a consortium of school districts where we trade courses.”

Ten or twelve districts might share one course, he said, reducing the costs involved if each district offered it separately.

He pointed out the flexibility Granville Online offers. Middle school students have more options, he said, and students with disabilities can take dual online and face-to-face courses to satisfy the state’s Occupation Course of Study.

But it’s not just a matter of students working in isolation in front of a computer. Every course includes a weekly webinar, in which students interact with their classmates and teacher.

The results have been impressive. Students have earned thousands of credits. Some have graduated on time, something that appeared to be impossible without the options offered by Granville Online. Teachers have blended online instruction with face-to-face classes to maximize the exposure of their students to learning opportunities.

All of this is in keeping with the aims of the board of education and the staff to mix the modern with the tried-and-true traditional approaches to learning.

“The success of Granville Online,” Farley said, “only further secures my belief that we must continue to forge ahead and create the education we can imagine, and not just the one we can remember.”

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.