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Lee schools to add ‘virtual teacher’ job descriptions

By Staff | Mar 9, 2010

The Lee County is the first school district in the state to officially create a job description for a virtual teacher.
Each year the district adds more access to online educational programs where students can recover lost credits or sign up to complete their high school diploma.
On Tuesday afternoon the board approved a job description for a “virtual teachers” that differs from a traditional educator in two ways: First, the teachers can do their jobs from any location and that they aren’t tied to a specific class time each day.
Al Shilling, the district’s assistant director of Emerging Technology and Virtual Instruction, informed the board that other districts are using a standard teacher contracts to hire online educators.
He also explained that Lee County’s virtual education franchise, approved by the board this school year, is much larger than others statewide.
“We have had some withdrawals this semester who have gone back to the brick and mortar schools, but we have about 97 youngsters in the program, we are in the top five districts in the state,” he said.
Lee County is one of seven other counties that developed their own virtual education franchise. Although it is designed for students in grades 1 to 12, Shilling said the highest enrollment concentration is between sixth and eighth grade.
Superintendent James Browder said district officials are always investigating new online options for children and have used a number of programs, such as Compass Learning or NovaNet, and will likely use more in the future.
“We have really looked at this critically and we are second or third in the state in relation to the number of youngsters who signed up in our program,” he said.
Any virtual teacher in Lee County adheres to the same certification requirements as any other. They must hold bachelor’s degrees, a certification in their subject area, and a Florida Teacher’s Certificate, yet they must also possess knowledge of the Internet and other online technology.