Janine Yass and Jeanne Allen along with other members of the YASS organization flew into Morgantown, WV to visit West Virginia Academy last Friday (Feb. 2nd). Members of the press, along with WV Senator Patricia Rucker, Garret Ballengee from Cardinal Institute, and James Paul from the WV Professional Charter School Board also came to the school for a tour and student assembly.
"Our students and staff have been looking forward to welcoming our guests," stated Heidi Treu, Executive Director of WVA. "We are thrilled to show these distinguished guests our amazing scholars and excellent programs." Prior to the tour, Director Treu explained that Fridays are Experience Days where their students participate in activities applying what they learned in the classroom during the week. Some students were on a field trip, others were carrying out science projects, still others were playing piano and intramural sports. Hands-on culminating projects are what Experience days are all about. "We are excited to show Janine Yass the students that will benefit from the generous Yass Prize finalist award," said Treu.
At a meeting afterward, WVA Board Chair, John Treu announced how West Virginia Academy plans to utilize the funds from this prestigious award. He described three different endeavors. First, WVA will launch a Hope Scholarship Pilot Program that will allow students that are less than full-time to join West Virginia Academy for specific courses or subject areas. Monongalia County alone has nearly a thousand home school students and many of these families want options for individual classes that have been denied them by the traditional public schools for decades. Hope scholars can also participate in the Experience Days on Fridays. Janine Yass asked how many students this new program would help and Treu estimated that the program could accommodate up to fifty "hopeschoolers" next year with greater capacity in future years.
Second, Dr. Treu also announced the plans for a new WVA Cultural Center on a property under contract in Cheat Lake. "We now have funds to break ground on the land we are purchasing in the Cheat Lake area of Morgantown and expand," Treu said. "We'll start with a Cultural Center that will house our competitive sports, visual and performing arts, including music and drama, as well as a place to hold our culminating events each term, and this could become a reality as early as the second half of next year." Treu indicated that the academy will seek to create a campus around the center with a focus first on secondary students and then primary. "We want our older students to have a place of their own as soon as we can," Treu said.
Third, Dr. Treu explained that a portion of the YASS Prize will go to a fund that will provide merit pay for WVA teachers. "Businesses have been doing this for years, why not give extra money to these amazing teachers that work so hard for our students at our school." Treu says that they have already been giving bonus pay, but this will help increase the amount they are able to give.
Following the board chair's remarks, Senator Rucker expressed appreciation for the academy's efforts and noted that alternative forms of education are essential and seeing this in action fulfills her dream and vision from 5 years ago when she took up the battle for school choice.
For more on this visit see: Roadshow for Opportunity: A Heaven of Education Opportunity… - Yass Prize