CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - While thousands of Savannah-Chatham families are preparing to head back to hybrid learning, the E-Learning Academy will continue virtually indefinitely. The school was created this year to serve students who prefer to learn online verses in a physical classroom.
Obviously when the pandemic hit, learning shifted quickly to virtual, and for some that was a welcomed change. To accommodate those students, the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System created the e-learning academy which has been very popular with about 800 students in its first year.
“The state of Georgia has had virtual learning programs for a while and this is something that has been a great addition for the district. It’s another opportunity and another option for our students in the district. It’s definitely here to stay. We are excited about our future,” said Benjamin Lam, the principal of Savannah-Chatham E-Learning Academy (SCELA).
Currently SCELA serves students in 3rd through 10th grade. Each grade has a specific learning style in the virtual setting where students can get a traditional lesson or do work individually.
“It is a very rigorous curriculum and course for our kids that they would get in a normal brick and mortar, but they are getting it online with some flexibility that many families need,” said Lam.
Teachers and students work from home and have flexibility. That’s what 8th grade SCELA student Isabella Frazier says is her favorite thing about virtual learning.
“I’m a very ambitious student so like I have the opportunity to move faster,” said Frazier.
While she admits it was an adjustment, she says she’s less distracted and learning a lot.
“It’s definitely new to me, but I think I learned a lot, I learned a lot about myself, a lot about technology and I don’t think I’ve ever had to time manage as much as I have here, but it’s really refreshing and it makes me feel good,” she said.
Lam says students and their learning coach have pacing guides to help stay on track and also specific learning support times. He says they have learned a lot this first year and are ready to expand on that next year.
“The possibilities are kind of open and endless for us in a virtual setting of what we can expose a child to and I think that is where our real potential and opportunity for learning takes place,” he said.
He says they plan to not only add 11th grade next year, but serve 1,200 students.