FLVS news releases are listed in chronological order. All images are for editorial use only by news agencies, journalists, and student reporters in connection with broadcast media and newspaper, news magazine, trade publication, and educational articles about Florida Virtual School. Any other use of these materials is strictly prohibited. Under no circumstances may these materials be used for any personal or commercial purposes.
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.
Online Learning Provides Learning Consistency as COVID-19 Cases Surge
Dec 10, 2020
As coronavirus cases surge, online learning continues to grow in popularity for students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. Many Florida families have chosen to continue taking courses at Florida Virtual School (FLVS) in the spring semester of 2021 with the aim to continue learning uninterrupted.
Studies have shown that teachers are better able to support students and maintain continuity when they are not disrupted by mid-year changes. By continuing their studies online, students are able to maintain academic momentum in a safe, stable, and supportive online learning environment.
“Stability is critical in a year when children are facing more mental pressure and trauma,” says Dr. Amy Hall, Student Mental Health and Safety Administrator for FLVS and licensed mental health counselor who has worked with students for more than 25 years. “Stability can give students a positive sense of control, which is helpful in times of uncertainty.”
“We’ve seen a major increase in mental health concerns since last spring. Online school offers a safe, supportive environment with consistency in learning,” added Dr. Hall.
Many students will also feel like they have more control in an online learning environment, as they have flexibility with their schedules, can work where they like, take breaks to go outside and recharge and more. Students can also decide who they allow into their lives electronically, which can help make bullying less of an issue.
Dr. Hall also says it’s important for students to stay well rounded and involved in social activities where meaningful relationships can be developed.
“When students feel supported, they thrive. They need to know that they’re not alone, and although social media sometimes can be problematic, students can build meaningful relationships online. For example, students can still participate in clubs and social activities while attending school virtually,” said Dr. Hall.
For information on how learning meets life at FLVS, visit www.flvs.net/learnfromhome.
Click here to view the News Release (PDF)
Florida Virtual School Parents Share Their Online School Tips with Parents New to Remote Learning
Nov 06, 2020
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more students than ever before are learning virtually, so many parents have taken a more involved role with their students education. In recognition of National Parents as Teachers Day (Nov. 8, 2020), Florida Virtual School (FLVS®) celebrates these parents and their partnership with FLVS teachers by sharing their tips to help families adjusting to online education make their education journey a success.
Whether parents are homeschooling or facilitating their child’s remote learning experience, they’re often in uncharted territory. Long-time FLVS parents have been there and offer these tips:
- Be flexible: Parents know their kids best. If they are having a bad day or a hard time focusing, close the computer, let them go for a walk, jump in the pool, get exercise. Come back two hours later (if early in the day) or just remember: tomorrow is another day.
- Stay organized: Organizing everything from schedule to color-coded subjects and supplies makes virtual learning easier to manage for both parents and students. Create folders and sub-folders for different students and different subjects.
- Incorporate breaks between subjects or large blocks of material: Use the Pomodoro Technique by getting a timer and committing to just a short amount of work or study time. Sectioning learning into manageable time periods with frequent breaks helps retention.
- Print weekly pace charts: Pace charts are great motivators. Students love to see how much they have accomplished.
- Use a visual space to show assignments: Write assignments and goals on a calendar, planner or white board where students can check off completed tasks. This is another way for students to feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Try a block schedule: Some FLVS families use a block schedule where they tackle one or two subjects on a set day. For example: Monday (Math/Elective), Tuesday (Language Arts), Wednesday (Science/Elective), Thursday (History).
- Plan ahead: Of course some things come up at the last minute, but try to have a plan for schedules, assignments and interactive learning experiences. Preview the first module in each class to get a sense of how long each lesson and assignment will take.
- Prioritize: Focus on the assignments and assessments to be graded, and use the extra resources as needed.
Reach out for help: As one FLVS Full Time parent said, “I am not the teacher. I’m more like a mix of intern, emotional support, and grumpy IT guy. The FLVS teachers can tell when the kids are stalled and call them before I ever figure that out.”
Click here to view the News Release (PDF)