Viera Charter takes learning to the next level

Viera Charter School algebra teacher Bruce Frahm gives live instruction and plays math bingo and other games to keep students engaged while they must learn from home.

Children at Viera Charter School started back to school the day after spring break Tuesday, March 24, greeted by their teacher’s face on a computer screen, and the smiles of their fellow classmates.

Students at traditional Brevard Public Schools started nearly a week later on Monday March 30. 

"I just want to say thank you to Charter School Associates, VCS administration and the teachers for working so hard to get our children learning again," parent Elizabeth Logan said. "I know most of  (them) gave up time over spring break to take calls and strategize. Having these classes live (and recorded for those who can’t attend during the live times) is so important for our kiddos. To be able to actually see and hear their teachers and classmates during this chaotic time is invaluable. I could cry just thinking about it. Thank you for bringing a tiny sense of normalcy for them.’’

The private, nonprofit Viera Charter School is locally owned and governed by a board of local community members, and contracts for management oversight and services with Charter School Associates (CSA). CSA provided online training March 23 for faculty in their homes on the use of Microsoft Teams, which allows a teacher to address all his or her students via the computer screen in real time. Students who attend the live meeting can be called on, which allows their face to be seen and voice to be heard by all other classmates.

"I’m so proud of our teachers, and also very pleased with our students who have caught on quickly to this new technology this week," VCS principal Dr. Julie Cady said. The school’s educational technology manager, Saxon Boucher, remains at school addressing any technology obstacle teachers or parents might have, and distributing laptops so that all students will have a station of their own for the duration of time they must learn from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many parents echoed Logan’s comments.

Stacey Scott complimented her daughter Ellie’s third-grade teacher Jason Cardillo for making sure students understood the new platform.

"I’m sure this may have its challenges for teachers, but I feel they are doing an amazing job," Scott said. "They are keeping the kids engaged and making them feel like they are still part of their class."

Sixth-grader Vanessa Jenkin said, "We have plenty of assignments and very interactive online classes to keep our mind going during this time." 

"Virtual learning has been an exciting adventure," said Rose Dedrick, a fifth-grade teacher at Viera Charter School. "What has been challenging for me has been deciding how to teach and present new material to my students. I do a lot of hands-on and collaborative lessons in my classroom. Since I cannot teach this way online, I have had to adjust my methods. I miss being in the classroom with my students, so I am trying to incorporate a ‘morning meeting’ routine into each of my live video lessons. I feel like this is important because one of the big reasons we go to school is for the social and collaborative aspects of working with our peers and teachers."