Raleigh, June 5, 2015 — The North Carolina Virtual Public School is pleased to announce that Wendy Kraft has been selected as the 2015 NCVPS e-Learning Coordinator of the Year. Her leadership and support in New Hanover County Schools has been exemplary. Please join us in congratulating her.
Wendy has been the e-learning coordinator (ELC) with New Hanover County Schools for the past four years. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in school administration. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and has taught elementary and middle grades. She is currently teaching developmental math courses at the community college level. Wendy is also a mentor for beginning teachers in New Hanover and is part of the district’s peer observation team.
New Hanover has greatly expanded its e-learning opportunities under Wendy’s leadership. The district enrolled nearly 3,000 students in the 2014-2015 school year. In the Spring 2015 semester, the New Hanover had over a 90% pass rate, thanks in part to the support structure that Wendy has established in schools throughout the district.
Wendy identified two areas of focus in New Hanover’s e-learning program: careful advising and scheduling of online courses and supporting students throughout their online experience. Wendy credits the New Hanover e-learning team in their progress. “Our accomplishments are a reflection of the support from NHCS senior staff and the amazing efforts of our school level teams,” Wendy says.
Wendy has great advice for school e-learning advisors and coordinators: “Prioritize. Focus on your existing systems and the students that are currently taking courses. Work towards increasing opportunities for success with what is currently in place and then celebrate these successes.”
There are many challenges in the e-learning field. Wendy finds that patience is a virtue. “Many stakeholders are unfamiliar with online learning or have misconceptions as to the rigor, integrity, and value of online coursework.”
Using data has been an important key in New Hanover’s success. “Use data, both student performance and feedback, to guide discussions with stakeholders,” Wendy says. “Create systems that empower schools.”
Wendy states that districts should align efforts and resources to support implementation and growth. “Provide layers of supports for school-level leaders as they understand, embrace, and effectively implement online learning structures that are in keeping with district processes while allowing flexibility to meet the needs of their unique populations.”
Wendy credits New Hanover Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley with the online learning success in the district. “His leadership and commitment to personalizing learning pathways for students has been invaluable to the success of our NHCS Online Learning Program.”
Wendy elaborates on her motivation and those who have supported her:
“I have had the good fortune of being surrounded by exceptional mentors and colleagues throughout my career. This sharing of knowledge, skills, passion, and enthusiasm for teaching and learning has provided me with a solid foundation. Over these past two years, I have added to this network of support as I partnered with members of the state NCVPS team. I am forever grateful for their responsiveness to our district and student needs. While I’m grateful to all of my colleagues and the tremendous impact that they’ve had on my professional growth, I believe that it is our students that have been my greatest source of motivation and success! Knowing that we are empowering middle and high school students to take ownership of their education by seeking courses that meet their interests, strengths, and goals . . . this is what drives me!”
Wendy has great plans for the future in New Hanover. Her team’s goal is to increase access to middle school students in both middle and high school content courses. An even bigger step is to increase opportunities for students to take all of their courses completely online. The district also has plans to identify qualified NHCS instructors to teach NCVPS released courses.
NCVPS selected the ELC of the Year winner from a group of three finalists. NCVPS extends a special congratulation to the other two finalists in this year’s selection process:
Jatana Baucom – ELA for Union Academy, Union County
Jessica Milligan – ELA for Hoggard High School, New Hanover County
All three finalists have demonstrated the highest degree of commitment to student success and e-learning in their districts and schools.
The North Carolina Virtual Public School is the nation’s second largest state-led virtual school with over 55,000 enrollments from all 115 school districts and many charter schools during the 2015-2016 school year. NCVPS offers over 150 different courses as a supplement to the local high school course catalogue and includes Advanced Placement, Occupational Course of Study, electives, traditional, honors and credit recovery courses. All courses are taught by teachers certified in North Carolina and provide strategies for active student engagement through a variety of technology tools. Teachers are required to make personal contact with students and parents regularly to maximize the student-teacher relationship. Courses are free to students who enroll through their local North Carolina high school. NCVPS is available to home-schooled and private school students for a small fee. By virtue of online course delivery, students now have access to rigorous courses and high-quality teachers regardless of zip code.