At the start of the pandemic, many families learned that their children thrived best when they were educated in an online environment.
For this reason, at the end of the 2020 school season, the Carroll County School District decided to make virtual schooling an option for high school students. Now the Carroll County Online Campus has opened as a brand new full-time public school.
Cheryl Clark has been chosen as director. Originally from Mississippi, Clark has over 20 years of educational experience.
Clark said she received her undergraduate degree in English from Rust College, her master’s degree from Troy University and her education specialist degree from Columbus State University.
Clark told The Times-Georgian that the online campus provides students with a “non-traditional learning” opportunity, while respecting the academic rigors of a “traditional school setting.” She said that was one of the reasons she was interested in the job.
“I wanted to do something pioneering, where I could use my innovation skills to advance education,” Clark said. “I think we are on the cusp of a lot of changes in education.
“It gives me the opportunity to really invest my interest in education, but also my side which has a desire for innovation.”
“We do the schedules here on our campus,” Clark said. “Then they will place these students on the platforms and generate login credentials for the students. Our teachers will then use these resources to run the program. “
According to Clark, CCOS got a PartnerUp grant that registers students on a platform for them. With this partnership, Clark said there was a deadline for registration.
Clark began her career as a high school English teacher and was promoted to Instructional Coach, Deputy Principal, before becoming Principal of the Carroll County Online Campus.
“I taught two years in Mississippi before I moved to Georgia,” Clark said. “I moved to Carrollton because of a job offer. Earlier this year, I was recruited by the Carroll County School District to be the principal of the new online campus school.
Clark is among a small percentage to hold the distinction as a nationally certified STEM high school administrator. Recognized by the Georgia Department of Education (GADOE) as a pioneer in her field, she led the charge in creating the online campus, county officials said.
Although the online campus is public, Clark said students will need to go through an application process to be accepted. The application process is split into two levels – and there’s a waiting list, Clark said.
The online campus has a total of 150 vacancies for grades 9-12 students. Currently, 53 students are enrolled in CCOS, Clark said.
Clark said level one represents the top-ranked students; Level two represents students who can be accepted into the school if not all of the slots are occupied by level one students.
If all students in Levels 1 and 2 have been enrolled – and there are more spots left – Clark said the students on the waitlist will then be enrolled in the order in which they applied. However, if there are no slots available, students will remain on the waiting list.
Clark said the district put this process in place because not all students are used to the level of rigor that will be used inside the CCOS.
“We use a tiered template and application process that we send out to students and parents,” Clark said. “We use behavior, attendance, and grades to determine which students would do first level, which students would do second level, and then the rest of the students will be put on the waiting list based on when they are. have applied to the program to fill the niches we have available.
“This is an app only and a non-COVID based program. So when it comes to selection, we are very careful about who is accepted into the program. “
In other words, Clark said COVID has exposed the community to the online learning option – but the program isn’t open just because of COVID.
“This is for students who are looking for a non-traditional form of education,” Clark said. “If it was linked to COVID, it would mean the school wouldn’t be there when COVID is over. This is not the case. This school is here to stay.
According to Clark, the online campus administrative staff will use a screening rubric when accepting students.
Clark said there are no cumulative grade point average requirements. Because some students thrive in this environment, and some do not, administrators will take into account what students have already done in their core classes when making their selections.
“We ask that students be independent in their learning,” said Clark. “We also ask that students have the support of their families because, while students work outside of school, we ask that they receive guidance and support from parents to guide themselves. “
Clark said if students’ grades start to drop, they will be placed on academic probation until their grades improve. If their grades do not improve, they will be asked to return to their home school (the school they were originally enrolled in), Clark said.
Clark said the difference is that CCOS serves all high school students who meet the application requirements in Carroll County.
“We still closely monitor student grades at the end of the four and nine weeks,” Clark said. “In addition to following up on grades, we will contact parents to inform them of the status of their children’s grades.
Although students will attend school virtually, Clark said they will still be able to participate in sports and extracurricular activities at their home or home school.
“They are still in school,” Clark said. “They are just taking their lessons on an online platform.”
In addition to the online campus, Clark said the CCOC is home to the online campus extended day school. This school is designed to serve as an alternative supplement to traditional high school programs, Clark said.
Clark said that with the support of an on-campus facilitator, the program is grounded in the uniqueness and inherent worth of the individual student. Clark said she believes everyone has the ability to be an independent, confident learner.
The goal of the online extended day school is to ensure the success of all students looking for a more flexible learning environment as an opportunity to supplement their high school requirements, Clark said.
“In order to have a better located community, we first need to get our students graduating,” Clark said.
Although this is Clark’s first year as a principal, she said she has the skills to advance education.
“I think this program will continue to grow,” Clark said. “And I hope it is. We need different alternatives for non-traditional schooling for people who want to do what they have to do and move on. And that’s what CCOS is committed to.