Making the Grade: Virtual High School in Baltic

A new type of learning has arrived in Connecticut schools and is giving kids opportunities to learn that they might not otherwise have.

It's called the Virtual High School.

For students at the Academy of the Holy Family in Baltic, computers are the gateway to an education befitting a much larger school.

“It does for our students what we can't do for them,” said Barbara Gozzo, Virtual High School coordinator in Baltic.

The goal of the non-profit VHS is to offer students online advanced placement and career oriented courses that many brick and mortar schools around the country just can't provide due to limited resources.

Specialized teachers instruct students around the world in a virtual classroom connected over the internet.

“We have nowhere near that number of opportunities for them here, so it expands what we could provide for them,” Gozzo said.

From criminology to oceanography, VHS offers more than 200 courses to more than 100 schools in Connecticut.

For students at Holy Family, a school with fewer than 40 girls and 15 teachers, VHS adds enrichment to the learning environment.

“If we can provide classes that they are interested in, in areas that they want to continue a career in, it's helpful,” said Gozzo.

Janae Garlepp, a senior at Holy Family, is in the kindergarten apprentice program through VHS. She says VHS both teaches her online how to teach kids and then allows her to put her knowledge into practice in the classroom. “I am a visual learner,” Garlepp said.

She knows that when she studies early childhood education in college in the next few years, her experience through VHS will help set her apart from her peers, setting her up for her future.

“This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Garlepp said.

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