Virtual classroom sets up in Jackson mall

JACKSON, Mich (WLNS) - Everyone is unique and we all learn in different ways.

Which means: a "traditional school environment" may not be right for every student.

In Jackson a school is "living in the digital world" just opened its doors in a very different location.

When you go to the Jackson Crossing Mall you probably aren't thinking about school and certainly don't expect to see a classroom.

"We're assessable, this is a nice, neutral place", explains Fred Parker, director of operations.

But now that's exactly what you get as "Southcentral Michigan Virtual" opened here a few weeks ago.

"We have a hybrid of fully online and we have a site where we have highly qualified and certified teachers on staff working with our students," adds Parker.

The K-through-12 school is funded through the federal government so tuition and materials are free.

Students come here for a variety of reasons.

They could be taking extra classes or be enrolled full-time.

"Offering a flexible, independent learning style where the students can learn at their pace," explains Parker.

It also provides more interaction for kids who are home-schooled.

At this school, it's all about using technology to learn. So if you wanted to learn about the human body, you could jump right into the immune system.

"So when they're taking the test or doing the coursework, they were there," says Parker. "They didn't just read about it, they were actually present."

Students say they get to choose when to show up and enjoy the non-traditional setting.

10th grader Alexandra Boyd says "In a classroom you have to keep up with everybody in the class. And here you move at your own speed. If you need help, it's all right here."

"It gives you a sense of how to do stuff on your own. And also how to work with a computer," adds 12th grade student Dominic Sirbaugh.

Students can earn a high school diploma through the virtual classes, and while they can move along at their own pace, it's set up to be a 4-year program like traditional schools.

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