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This interview is being conducted with Ms.

Margaret Thomas who serves as the


supervisor for student support with Georgia Virtual Schools. Ms. Thomas was contacted
through email: Margaret.thomas@gavirtualschool.org
Hello Ms. Thomas,
Thank you for consenting to this interview. As I mentioned in my initial email, I am a
graduate student in University Maryland University College pursuing a M.Ed. in
Instructional Technology. My cohort has been engaged in readings and discussions
designed to broaden our understanding of the similarities and differences virtual schools
and traditional schools have. Based upon these readings and discussions, I have
formulated a list of questions to assist me in learning more about Georgia Virtual School..
1. Thinking about a Georgia Virtual School (GaVS) leader as a communicator, how is
communication facilitated in your program between administrators and staff? Is it
similar or different than traditional model schools? GaVS uses similar methods
of communication between administration and staff. We have some
face-to-face learning symposiums, but we also utilize a variety of
technologies in an effort to communicate with all staff.
2. What is the organizational structure of the GaVS? GaVS is a program of the
GaDOE. We operate under the Technology Services division and
answer to the CTO, State Board, and the Superintendent. The
operational structure of the program operates similar to a school
district with leadership positions, Instructional Lead teachers,
student and technology support, and SPED services.
3. What is your position at GaVS and what does your job entail? I am the
supervisor of student support with a team of seven support
specialists. Our team focuses on providing general information
about the program, assisting users with the registration process,
and working with local schools on how GaVS can be a partner in
education.
4. What specific challenges do you face in a virtual school that you wouldnt face in a
traditional school setting?
5. What regulating agency is GaVS accountable to? In other words, is GaVS regulated
by a district board and state agency? If yes, which? GaVS is AdvancED certified
and operates as part of the GaDOE answering to the state board
and state school superintendent.

6. Are teachers in GAVS required to have taken prior coursework for online course
delivery? All GaVS teachers are highly qualified and certified in their
specific content area.
7. Are teachers in GaVS required to attend staff development activities for online course
delivery? If yes, how often are teachers required to attend these staff development
activities? Teacher have a variety of professional learning
opportunities within the program, and depending on the nature of
the professional learning the requirement can be monthly or
semesterly.
8. Who provides GaVS teachers with their professional development? Do GaVS
teachers have access to the same professional development courses as teachers in the
public school system? GaVS teachers have access to in-house
professional development, experts in the field, and state and
national conferences in a variety of content areas.
9. How do GaVS administrators monitor and measure student engagement and teacher
feedback? Who is responsible for monitoring these interactions? Many
technology systems are used to monitor teacher and student
engagement and progress. Some data comes from our learning
management system and some from our student information
system. It is monitored both electronically and through observation.
10. How does GaVS address accountability challenges related to unique student
populations (such as high mobility)? GaVS is a program that works with
schools and school districts to provide solutions for student learning.
In special cases, we work with school districts to help them solve
the challenges mentioned in the question.
11. I have read about (traditional) school closures for underperforming schools, are
there any consequences for GaVS linked to student performance? GaVS strives to
provide quality learning experiences for all students. There are state
mandated tests that are given through schools participating in the
GaVS program. Those schools own the test results, however,
aggregate scores are reviewed by GaVS staff and consistently mirror
or exceed state scores on these assessments.
12. What teaching platform do you use? Our learning management system is
BrightSpace.
13. If students do not have access to internet and/or devices, what role does GaVS play, if
any, in facilitating access for your students? Internet access is a requirement of the
program.

14. I understand that GaVS operates under the GA Department of Education, who is
responsible for maintaining your operating system? Do you share resources with the
public school system? GaVS maintains its learning management system. We have
shared resources that are available to all the public in the world as well as
subscription resources to all public schools systems in Georgia.
15. Do you have a typical student who enrolls in your program? How do you provide
for students diverse learning needs? GaVS serves a wide variety of students. We do
serve special education students, and our team of special education teachers and
administrators handle those cases just as a face-to-face public school would do.
16. What happens if a student cannot work within the framework of an online program?
GaVS has bi-weekly due dates to accommodate for a variety schedules and life events
for students.
17. Does GaVS outsource any part of your program? No.
18. Is there anything you wish to add which I have left off my list of questions? GaVS is
a program that operates as a trusted partner in education for students in Georgia and
around the world.
I would like to thank you for sharing your time and expertise. If any of my questions
require clarification, please let me know.
Sincerely,
Malkie Horovitz