W-A-Y Michigan: Meeting the Needs of All Students through Online Education

May 26, 2020 by

Coronavirus (COVID-19) hit and panic is setting in about the future of our lives and education is now in jeopardy. Traditional schools that focus on the use of face-to-face instruction are scrambling to figure out how to go virtual. The big question is how we get students and parents to believe in Online Education and the importance of continuing to work from home during this time. Well there is one school that has an answer: W-A-Y Michigan.

W-A-Y Michigan is a tuition-free public-school academy that has been providing an online learning model that is innovative and rigorous since 2014. It uses the HERO Learning System that provides a project-based learning curriculum based on state and national learning standards. W-A-Y Michigan is just one of four academies and eight partner sites in Michigan that use the HERO Model. Additionally, W-A-Y Program, under the name of WAY American School, has partnered with schools in China andBrazil and HERO has been adopted as the learning platform of a partner school in the United Kingdom.

During this time of crisis our staff have transitioned to working from home seamlessly and continued to provide quality education and support to our students. Below is some feedback we received from parents and students:

“I just wanted to send a quick email regarding my student’s most recent progress report.  I appreciate all the communications and extra effort W-A-Y has put into trying to get him moving forward.  The sessions with his mentor have made a tremendous impact. Please thank her for making and keeping him accountable.  The extra time that you are bringing is greatly appreciated!!  I will try hard on this end to keep him engaged.  

Stay safe.

W-A-Y Michigan Parent”

After graduating I thanked my mentor for sticking with me during a time when I was discouraged with the program.  I worked with my mentor to create a weekly schedule that would help me to be more efficient with submissions.  As a result, I was able to see some progress with my credits that I needed to graduate, and it helped me become very motivated. I was happy to hear that there would be a virtual graduation ceremony because I wanted to be able to make my mother proud.”

Part of the reason we have been so successful is because of the structure and programs we have in place to help support students. All students that enroll go through a two-day orientation process. Our orientation staff provide students with the necessary information they need to be successful in our program and learn about the staff that is available to help. Each student is provided a mentor. Their mentor works with them on a daily basis to ensure they have the support they need and keep them on track. Mentors at W-A-Y Michigan only take on up to ten students at a time.

With the Stay at Home order in effect we have been working to improve our online support. We provide one-on-one and small group instructional sessions with our school and district teachers. All of our teachers at W-A-Y Michigan are fully certified Michigan teachers. In addition to the support provided by our teachers we have several paraprofessionals that provide one-on-one support sessions. By doing this W-A-Y Michigan has prevented a drastic increase in absences and maintained constant communications with families to provide them with the educational services they need.

Beth Baker, Co-founder and Executive Director of W-A-Y was interviewed by EdNews in March discussing the importance of E-learning in today’s world. To learn more here is a link to the interview: https://www.educationviews.org/e-learning-takes-center-stage-governors-state-and-local-superintendents-should-take-advantage/.

W-A-Y Program would be happy to partner with school districts that are struggling to adjust for the need of a fully virtual or a blended learning environment. For more information please contact the W-A-Y Program office at 734.345.9957 or info@wayprogram.net.

[James Middleditch is the assistant director of W-A-Y Michigan. He has worked for W-A-Y Program for the last four years. He has experiences as a paraprofessional, teacher, and team leader prior to becoming the assistant director at W-A-Y Michigan.]

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