What happens to students who get caught in the tangle of getting a passing grade in a course, but not on the SOL test that accompanies it? Or vice-versa? Or what about kids with too many unexcused absences, for whatever reason? What about kids who just fail a class? How do they graduate on time?
This year at Salem High, students in any of those predicaments can make up for lost time or grades with NovaNET, a comprehensive courseware system that provides a self-paced, interactive and individualized curriculum for kids in danger of falling behind or for those who want to get ahead.
They also found a more-than-suitable teacher to go along with the program. Teresa Grey, a librarian and former pre-school teacher, has extensive tutoring experience in every subject. She leads SAT and PSAT study sessions in the fall and the spring-all separate from school. She has a degree in education and library science, an educational media specialist, but she constantly takes classes-whether its UVA courses at the Higher Educational Center or at Virginia Western. “If you don’t use it all the time, you lose it,” she said.
Her multi-tasking and broad range of knowledge comes in handy when ten kids in a class are studying eight different subjects, from Biology to Algebra. The three rules of her classroom are simple: sanitize your hands, no sleeping, and “you need to do your work when you are here.”
“This is really a gift … they get to earn their credits back, and they need to take advantage of that,” said Grey. The classroom, a computer lab in the back left wing of the library, was built this summer for the NovaNET program. The software allows Grey to see what each student is working on, and ”when they get stuck, NovaNET won’t let you go on until you get the right answer.” That’s where Grey comes in.
“We have so many programs for the kids who succeed and do well. This is one for the kids who struggle a bit,” said Grey. Each student works through their class individually, going from module to module like units in a book. There are pre- and post-tests before and after each class and each module, and are given substantive grades based on those tests. In some cases, students with truancy issues may only have to complete a certain amount of time-25 hours per course missed-but they’re all, hopefully, reaching the ultimate goal of graduating on time.