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Virtual learning with the Torch Academy

Learn at your own pace, the way you want to.

Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES’s Torch Academy is a virtual learning school for students in grades K-12.

While most students are better served in a classroom environment, some are more successful with remote learning. Torch Academy allows those students to choose to take an entire school year virtually, or they can pick up a single virtual class as an elective or core class.

Your home school district’s guidance office can help you figure out if Torch Academy is right for your family. Reach out to them if you are interested in learning more. 

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About the academy

Courses are taught by state-certified teachers in an asynchronous manner. Asynchronous means that teachers assign classwork, then students do the work on their own time, giving them flexibility in scheduling their days.

There are a number of offerings, giving students access to choices that may not be available otherwise. Extra motivated students can accelerate their learning and focus their studies in areas that interest them.

Students who have fallen behind can use the Torch Academy to catch up. If the student is retaking a class they have previously failed, the program can assess the student’s learning in a particular course, then create an individualized plan that focuses on filling in the student’s gaps in knowledge.

Fully supported instruction

FEH BOCES is partnering with Edgenuity and Florida Virtual School to offer courses through the Torch Academy. In addition to multiple layers of support from online teachers, coaches and coordinators, an on-site facilitator will monitor students’ progress in their coursework. When a student isn’t staying on track, the facilitator will call them back to in-person instruction until they are caught up. The student will be required to come into the Learning Lab at Adirondack Educational Center in Saranac Lake or North Franklin Education Center in Malone, depending on the student’s home district.

The Learning Labs are also optional in-person spaces for students taking online courses. The labs provide access to Wi-Fi in a quiet environment with teacher supervision and assistance. All Torch Academy students may access the lab by signing up at least 24 hours in advance.

FEH BOCES’s Torch Academy teachers also provide daily virtual office hours for students and their families to drop by and ask questions or get help.

Families interested in learning through the Torch Academy should reach out to the guidance office in their home school district. FEH BOCES programming is only available through a student’s school district, not through direct parent enrollment.

Background

Teachers have known for a long time that education needs to change. In professional development spaces, teachers have talked for ages about personalizing instruction to each student, allowing kids to learn at their own pace, and meeting kids where they’re at. The reality of a day-to-day classroom often prevented this from happening.

And then came COVID. The pandemic forced schools, teachers and students to change, seemingly overnight. Initially, these changes were incredibly difficult, but in some ways, helped us realize that this may be an opportunity for growth, and to better serve our students.

Throughout this upheaval and time of experimentation, it has become abundantly clear that most kids need an in-person classroom environment to learn.

It has also become clear that there’s a portion of students who thrive in an independent, remote learning environment. We at Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES have identified this as a need we can help fulfill with a new educational pathway. Our component districts wanted to be able to allow those kids who thrive with remote learning to be able to continue to learn in a remote class setting once COVID restrictions lessened. But they didn’t have the resources to do that on an individual basis. We're proud to provide this opportunity to students of our region. 

Support

Support for this work is from Generous Acts at Adirondack Foundation - a force for good that pools gifts from generous donors who love the Adirondacks and care about our communities. Adirondack Foundation enhances the lives of the people in the Adirondacks through philanthropy. To learn more, visit adirondackfoundation.org/GenerousActs.

Girl uses ipad for remote learning