VIBE Academy in Sioux City sees growth during first year of existence
Virtual learning has made waves over the past few years during the pandemic, and an Iowa school district is making it a permanent option for students.
Located in Sioux City is the home base for virtual learning in Iowa, called VIBE Academy.
The academy has seen growth in the number of students between the first and second semester.
“We offer live instruction throughout the day with veteran teachers. We offer homework help tutoring, different classes to help kids throughout the day to be successful. So, students have access to teachers all day long,” said VIBE Academy Principal Dave Vickery.
The program continues to grow during its first year.
Just under 500 students were attending during the first semester.
That number has jumped to 510 students for the second semester.
“We actually get new students almost daily,” Vickery said.
Any student in the state of Iowa can enroll in this virtual academy, with open enrollment going on now.
“We have students from surrounding communities, as far away as Ames, Iowa, and we hope to continue to attract a few students from around the community that sees this as a great option,” Vickery added.
The district is making investments into the 25 teachers, providing new desks and equipment that can help them multi-task for their classes.
“Due to the nature of virtual learning, you have to have multiple programs running at the same time. So, it’s a necessity in virtual teaching to have the best technology, so that teachers can function and do their job throughout the day,” said Vickery.
Travis Monk has been a teacher for 15 years; this is his first year at VIBE Academy.
He teaches in the science department.
“I love everything about virtual learning and then some of the students that we have here fit very well into virtual learning, where a traditional classroom setting wouldn’t be comfortable or bode well to be a good set,” said Monk, a 9-12 Science Teacher with VIBE.
Monk teaches three out of four blocks periods during the school day and says the biggest challenge he has had to overcome is learning to effectively multitask.
he says organization ahead of the start of the school day is a must, too.
“You have to be a lot more organized is what I found, virtually. I feel like you shouldn’t, like, couldn’t show up and figure something out in person, but it would be very difficult to show up. Just figure something out and communicate well with students virtually is what I found,” Monk said.
Teaching science virtually presents its challenges, but Monk has worked through it to connect with students on their level.
“Science traditionally would be kind of hands-on, there’d be something in the block period that we do every day, where they get up and move around and work on things. One thing that’s different with virtual learning is we can’t do that so much. So, I put together bags that I sent home at the beginning of the year for students, to be able to do some labs and activities, otherwise, we do online simulations,” Monk said.
The academy presents a unique learning opportunity for students who may not thrive in the traditional classroom.
Teachers and staff say students in the program right now are doing well.
“Virtual learning provides a lot of opportunities with or without COVID for students. For some students, for many students,” Monk said.
As they prepare for year two of the VIBE academy, the hope is to reach more students.
“More students are seeing this as an option that will suit their needs in school. So, knowing that it’s an option, it’s a good option for some of those students. They explore it and they find that it’s a little work for them. And then they go through the process of transferring into VIBE Academy,” Vickery said.
Open enrollment is underway for the 2022-23 school year.
Applications are due by March 1st, 2022.