For Rian Meadows, an economics instructor at Florida Virtual School (FLVS) -- the nation's first-ever statewide virtual public high school -- the newly passed legislation requiring every K-12 student to take an online course prior to graduation makes sense.
"I think it'll bring students into the 21st century," she says.
Requiring a virtual course will give students additional skills and a taste of what's to come: Florida State University, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and the University of Central Florida all offer many of their undergraduate and graduate courses online. "It gives our students a leg up to require them to see what it's like," says Meadows. "Plus, giving students the choice of which course they take online empowers them."
It might sound counter-intuitive, but Meadows, who spent eight years in a traditional classroom and at the Florida Department of Education before coming to FLVS, loves her job largely because of the school's culture. She appreciates the one-on-one connection with students and administrators and the team-oriented, non-hierarchical approach. "This is a philosophy that I agree with and a culture that I feel passionately about," she says.
In a traditional classroom, she believes, it's hard for teachers to help every student. "Sure, it's not like I can help every single student in a virtual classroom, either -- I don't have a Pollyanna view of that -- but I can help way more at a virtual school," she says. "Some students learn well with me just being their cheerleader; some need me to hold their hand through every lesson. It's great -- I can do that."