ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – Anderson County Schools is offering a new and unique option to middle school-aged students: Online classes.
The school system is starting up what officials are calling an “Online Flexible Middle School.” It’ll begin in the 2019-2020 school year.
School leaders say this is really built around the concept of flexibility. Students will do their school work online, but will still be able to come into the public school and participate in activities there, too.
“They can do everything from the house, they can do it on the road, they can do it wherever. But all of the curriculum is highly rigorous, it’s state aligned to state standards,” said Norwood Middle School and Online Flexible Middle School Principal Dan Jenkins.
Online students will enroll like a normal public school student, with access to all the activities that come along with that at Norwood Middle.
“We offer free tutoring. They have extracurriculars, sports. They can do theater, band, arts, music all here at the school, but do their work at home,” Jenkins said.
You may be wondering – why? What’s the reason behind this push to branch out online?
“I think that people travel a lot. There’s a lot of travel with their jobs, or families are having to travel together. Or someone gets sick in their family. We want to make sure that we’re catering to the needs of our county and our society,” said Jenkins.
Someone who’s already on board is Tanna Mellard.
“We’re going to get on the phone first thing in the morning and get her name on the list,” she said.
Mellard is interested in signing her granddaughter up as soon as possible.
“It breaks my heart when she comes home crying, having been bullied on the bus and bullied at school. I think that this will help with that,” she said.
And for anyone else considering enrollment, the principal is encouraging them to think about it and reach out.
“I think what really sets us apart is this flexibility piece for students. They can come in, work a little bit, get some tutoring, maybe they have to be on the road for a little while. They can be part of our sports teams during the season. It’s really something that is very unique and innovative,” said Jenkins.
This is the pilot year, so the program is currently limited to 30 students in sixth through eighth grades. It comes at no cost to parents, and Anderson County Schools telling us, they’re happy to take students from any county in the state.
For more information about this program, call 865-406-8385. You can also find information posted on the “Anderson County Schools TN” Facebook page.