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Wauwatosa Virtual Academy keeps momentum in community

Remains open to MCAP, opens new hub office

Sept. 3, 2014

Its name might suggest a digital-only presence, but Wauwatosa's Virtual Academy is expanding its reach in the community this year.

By mid-September, Virtual Academy will open its new office at 2323 N. Mayfair Road for students or parents to drop in for one-to-one meetings with teachers and for extra support. It used to operate out of the district's administrative offices at the Fisher Building, 12121 W. North Ave.

At the same time, youth can remain enrolled in Virtual Academy upon discharge from MCAP, Wauwatosa's juvenile detention center, rather than integrate back into their old school.

Virtual Academy is a program of the Wauwatosa School District that offers a middle and high school education completely online to residents and open enrollment students. With its new location on Mayfair Road, it will provide a "blended approach" to online learning, said Dennis Mahony, virtual program administrator.

Virtual Academy is in its second academic year with Wisconsin Open Enrollment, which funds the program with $6,500 per student. About 153 full and part-time students were expected for the 2014-15 school year. School started September 2.

Virtual Academy has found favor with students who prefer an alternative learning style and pace, as well as open enrollment students who have irregular schedules, problems with bullying or have been expelled from other school districts.

MCAP juveniles used to only be able to be enrolled in Virtual Academy while being housed at the intervention center. Now if they choose, they can continue their momentum with Virtual Academy upon discharge.

"Sometimes it was problematic to go back to the old high school to readjust to the different structure," said Tom Wanta, administrator for delinquency and court service. "This way the kids are engaged. We want to continue that engagement to increase their likelihood of success. I'm very excited about this."

"We're trying to make sure what we start with them, we complete with them," said Mahony.

Mahony could not provide an itemized breakdown of student enrollment. That information will be presented to the Wauwatosa School Board by Mahony and Amy Harrington, who works in the program, in October or November.

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