Listening to districts and fostering partnerships has helped the North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) achieve one of its overarching goals: to be a solution for our state’s districts and schools. Districts have similar needs, but they also have unique challenges brought about by geography and demographics. Our adaptable programming with high-quality, teacher-led online courses has allowed us to be part of the solution for all 115 school districts in North Carolina. By asking the right questions and listening to district leaders, we have been able to understand local needs and create solutions that have lasting effects. Those partnerships have helped us build solutions that also benefit charter schools, our Department of Defense schools, plus private schools and home schools.
STEP ONE: LISTENING STRATEGIES
Being part of the solution doesn’t happen by guessing what districts need and certainly not by telling them what they need. Over the past nine years, we have created a “listening network” that keeps us close to the district action. We’ve taken steps to avoid the pitfalls that initiatives face when stakeholders are not involved in the development. Only then can we identify the grit that can grind an otherwise well-working machine to a halt. Here are three programs that help connect us to our stakeholders:
NCVPS Advisory Council – Our Advisory Council works collaboratively with us to help us meet our goals and is instrumental in keeping us in touch with districts and schools. The council is comprised of district superintendents, schools counselors and teachers, along with other educational and private sector leaders. We meet with the council both virtually and face-to-face. We hear firsthand the needs of districts and how NCVPS can help. The council supports various subcommittees, to include data research, middle school development, school support, entrepreneurial, and partnerships.
E-learning Leadership Team – Each school that registers with NCVPS must identify an e-learning advisor (ELA), and each district identifies an e-learning coordinator (ELC). From this larger group of ELAs and ELCs, we have formed a smaller group called the E-learning Leadership Team. We have a member from each region in the state. The leadership team is our go-to group for immediate feedback on processes and procedures.
Virtual Support Center – We also have a one-stop Virtual Support Center where districts, schools, students, and parents can reach us for immediate help. The support center escalates stakeholder concerns to the NCVPS staff member who has the expertise to find a solution to their problem or answer their questions. The support center runs on a tracking system that allows us to track support data. This process has been helpful in managing requests that might appear to be a small, localized problem, but the data reveals a statewide need that can support new course development or a new program.
Watch for the next VLLA blog for Part 2: Partnering with NCVPS.