Carter In The Classroom
Focusing on unique things school districts are doing to help children succeed.

North Texas Public School Offers Free Online Campus for Students Statewide

Magnet school run by the Grapevine-Colleyvill ISD open to students across Texas

Say the phrase "brick and mortar" and you immediately start to think of a store that may soon be out of business. But could the move to doing things online impact more than just retail shopping?

One local school district has opened a campus online, letting students in middle and high school take classes at home.

And unlike home schooling, parents don’t have to lead the way.

High school senior Hannah Faulkner wakes up each morning and goes to class, sometimes not even leaving the house.

It’s not senioritis, Hannah’s home is also her classroom.

She’s enrolled in iUniversity Prep, a virtual tuition-free public school run by the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District.

"It's a lot more than a Skype session. You're not just watching a teacher, looking at a lecture, you're live in a class with everyone else enrolled in that course," Faulkner said. "You are talking with your classmates; you're interacting with your teachers."

Students log-in for an hour once a week for every class they take. They can see the teacher, and sometimes each other, always chatting and interacting.

"I have a certain number of assigned coursework every day to do, that's like homework," she told us. "There's essays to write, textbook readings, videos to watch, whatever it may be for that course."

The school has about 900 students in grades 5 through 12. It's a magnet school and works for different students who sign up for different reasons.

"If you're looking for an academic challenge, we have students who are elite athletes, actors, actresses," said Dr. Kaye Rogers, the Director of Virtual Learning for the GCISD.

It allows them to still get a college prep education while still pursuing their passion.

Hannah wanted more challenging classes than her local district could offer.

She was also dealing with something we hear about so much these days.

"I experienced a lot of bullying, and I was just in a really low place, and I needed to change where I was, because of my own emotional health," said Faulkner.

Here she's clearly thriving, graduating top of her class, getting challenging work, and despite going to school at the kitchen table, her social life is thriving too.

"I meet up with lots of friends from my class just to study through the day, especially here in the DFW area, to meet up with them and just to study together in very motivating," she said.

Hannah lives in Prosper but will walk across a stage this June in Colleyville and graduate at the top of her class.

The school district gets extra money, based on enrollment, to run this tuition free school.

All of the teachers are local, from the GCISD, and it’s open to students anywhere in Texas at no cost.

iUniversity Prep is a magnet school so you have to be on grade level and in good academic standing.

You can learn more about the program at iuniversityprep.org.

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