Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Veritas Press Scholars Academy Online







For the last few days we have been getting to know the people who are influencing our daughter. Emily takes classes at an online school called Veritas Press Scholars Academy... a classical approach to education.

Some background:

     Two years ago when we moved from the Seminary campus to Dan's vicarage placement in Iowa, we knew we needed to make a change in how we were schooling Emily. While I consider myself reasonably intelligent (no snickering), I became aware that it would be a daunting task to academically challenge my more than reasonably intelligent daughter through high school. While in St. Louis at the Seminary, we were fortunate to meet Joanna Hensley, who is one of the online instructors for Veritas. She was their best marketing ploy in my opinion. If this woman was representative of the quality of teachers being hired by this up-and-coming-technologically-suped-up-online-classical-school... sign us up.

     In August of 2008 we enrolled Em in three of the online classes, but because of the late date, she would only be able to participate fully in one of the three classes. The other two she would "audit". This meaning that she could watch the live class, but could not answer questions, "raise" her hand, or submit work to be graded. She would however get to benefit from class discussion and wisdom of the teachers. One of the classes she was auditing was an Omnibus Primary class. This "3 in 1" of Literature, Theology, and History involved mounds of reading and oodles of great discussions... just what Em was looking for. However, telling my daughter that she couldn't participate in heated theological debates in class was like telling a starving man he could only watch through a window as others feasted at a banquet! Regardless, she was hooked.

     It's been fascinating for us to see just how a "virtual" school can give our daughter such a concrete experience like it has. She's had classmates in our kitchen working on science labs.. goggles and all, via skype. She has assembled power point presentations for classes with classmates thousands of miles away. And walking into her room at any given time, I can hear, "Hello Mrs. Pool," from any number of kids, their beaming faces coming in clear over the video cam. She's used her computer to reach across the world... literally. She has made friends from Belgium to Mexico City, from Sri Lanka to Alabama, San Francisco to Bermuda... all through a computer screen. And these "virtual" friendships are anything but virtual. They are quite real.

Back to the present:

     This past weekend our family has enjoyed the End of the Year Gathering hosted by VPSA in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This event is an opportunity for the students, teachers and parents to meet "in real life". The kids get ridiculously excited at the prospect of meeting their best friends for the first time...to actually hug and confirm each other's existence beyond a monitor screen. It takes a minimal amount of time for newness to wear off, and although they have only just officially met, their relationships really continue from the last time they logged out of cyberspace.
   Yesterday, we said our goodbyes and it was quite emotional to watch as the tears flowed.  Each student headed home to climb back into their electronic boxes miles away from each other. I know Em will be sore for several days, and the ache of not having her friends within arm's reach will slowly dissapate into her normal rythym of life.  But there is no escaping the impact they have had on her. 

And we are thankful. 
Thankful for like-minded parents.  Thankful for teachers committed to excellence.  Thankful for administrators who look at our children and see potential and promise.  Homeschooling was never about doing it on our own or being renegades.  It has always been about discerning what is God's best for our children.  Thank you Veritas for being the best for my daughter.  We are grateful beyond words.

Emilyann's Parents.
http://www.veritaspress.com/

13 comments:

  1. Did she complete her education at VPSA? Experience? I am thinking enrolling my daughter in the diploma program and wanted to get information and opinion.

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    1. Alana, hello! Yes, she finished her studies at Veritas 2 years ago. We did not go through the diploma program, but knew many who did. She loved her experience with VPSA and is in her second year at New St. Andrews, Moscow, ID. Interestingly, several of the teachers who helped start up Veritas have left and formed a new online school, Wilson Hill Academy. The former Veritas Headmaster, Bruce Etter, is now the headmaster at WHA. Because I believe the teachers were the most excellent part of Veritas, we switched my son over to Wilson Hill this past year. He is a sophomore. I highly recommend Wilson Hill Academy. It contains all the warmth, academic excellence, and camaraderie that we loved about Veritas. Hope that helps. :)

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  2. Sallie, Thanks for this info. It is so encouraging to hear your children had and are having a great experience with Veritas and Wilson Hill. I was about ready to enroll my children, ages 13 and 14, into Veritas Press' diploma program. Then I saw your post about Wilson Hill. Did you have any issue with either your son or daughter entering into these programs in the later years. In particular, was it difficult for them to meet all course requirements? My daughter is entering the 8th grade and my son the 9th. Any info would be so very appreciated.

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    1. I'm sorry I didn't see your post sooner! Our experience has been that the teachers at both Veritas and now Wilson Hill have been soooo accommodating for us "late comers". I didn't have my kids learning Latin in 4th grade like some classical families... oops! Didn't stop them from taking Latin in 7th grade and doing just fine. I think the thing that might be difficult for some is the technology of the whole thing, though, I'm the one with the difficulty, not my kids. Figuring out how to communicate with teachers via the different programs can be confusing. (Honestly, I know so many of the teachers personally, we are either facebook friends or I can text them my questions!) Also, don't feel like you have to do EVERYTHING they offer. You can still customize your child's education. My son is dual enrolling with college classes through Concordia Universtiy Wisconsin (His college of choice) for a writing class this semester. Also something else to note: There are 6 Omnibus classes, but we only found time to do 5. Keep in mind that 1 and 4 correlate, 2 with 5, and 3 with 6. We didn't do 5. Where Veritas had 2 classes per Omnibus course (Primary and Secondary for 3 credits), Wilson Hill does them in one course for 2.5 credits, using the same textbook. Let me know what you chose to do, I'd love to know. :)

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  3. I was on the phone today with Veritas (and we have used their materials from the beginning!) about the diploma program. I was disheartened to realize that in their program you are charged almost $350 to teach your child a class at home, and grade your own work, while in the diploma program. Its more complicated as my husband has his PhD and is in academia, right now, and I am a mechanical engineer. While I respect the teachers and their skills, I feel very able to teach upper maths and sciences to my daughters. Veritas said that they couldn't accept that, and would require us to "enroll" for those classes because "we offer them". While it seems you had a flexible experience with Veritas, I came away from the phone conversation I had feeling like they were inflexible and unwilling to personalize my daughter's education. I appreciate your note about Wilson Hill. I will be calling them tomorrow to see what they offer. Mr. Etter has been one of my daughter's "favorites" in the self-paced Omnibus courses.

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    1. I will try to tread lightly here... A major reason our family chose to leave Veritas was because the teachers we love were leaving. And while I have not spoken to each teacher about their individual reasons for leaving, my impression was that Veritas had gotten too corporate for their liking, being less about the students and more about finances. As a parent, I totally agreed. While I realized that the school had grown exponentially from when we had started in 2008 (I think there were about 400 kids in the program and now there are thousands), it had chosen to grow in favor of those with large pocketbooks and influence. Again, my opinion, my experience. Unfortunately, the Veritas that this blog post represents is no more. As to the phenomena that is Mr. Etter... he will remain, always, our favorite teacher/headmaster. He is a gem. He is also suffering from a heart condition and has had to cut back on his work load. Prayers for him and his family are always appreciated. I suggest that you get in contact with Mrs. Marie Owens. I believe she is one of the administrators as well as the head Sciences teacher at WHA. Tell her Sallie Pool says hello. ;)

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  4. Is there a place on Wilson Hill Academy to find their booklist for The Great Conversation 3 class? Or would you mind sharing what they cover? Also, I'm wondering about the cost.

    Thank you,
    Melanie

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    1. Melanie, Here is a link I hope will work for you. I copied and pasted from an email I received for registration. https://wilsonhillacademy.gosignmeup.com/

      Open registration begins February 8, 2016. I checked out Great Convo. 3 and it is listed at $750 for the course. (It is a 2.5 credit course). Most other classes are $630. The textbook, when we bought it years ago was $100, plus all the extra reading that goes along. Pricey, I know. Look to buy the book used. (We've already sold ours). Many of the Classics can be downloaded for free on a Kindle/Nook/Ereader, etc. Best investment for us. Also a lightweight Kindle saves on extra baggage when trying to take a vacation with kids who need to bring 12 different with them!! Books are heavy! I think the list for Great Conv. 3 will be in the syllabus. You get that from the teacher later. Bruce Etter is teaching that class. I highly recommend any class he teaches. :) Hope this was helpful.

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  5. Hi there,

    Somehow I got directed to your blog and found out about Wilson Academy. I have already paid the registration fee for VP but not signed up for any classes. I realize I am late in the enrollment period and my girl hasn't received a classical education thus far. We would be entering 7th grade. What attracts me to VP is the accredited diploma and the rigorous path. What concerns me is a few posts I have seen about kids who feel like they aren't getting enough personal attention with papers or other submitted work. The rigorous path that attracts me also concerns me. If we want to try to pursue their honors diploma study, is it just "too much"? I'm seeing Latin I, Logic I, Grammar and Writing Transition AND Composition Transition, Alg I, Omn I or II and a Science course (Phy, Gen or Biology). This is very expensive and seems like it could be a really heavy load. Teachers who really care about their students and provide a warm and friendly atmosphere are important when that kind of a load is taken by a 12/13 year old! So, I took a look at WA and first thing I notice is they are about 70 minutes from us! Then I notice that I can't find any price listings at all on their website. I can't find any info about accreditation. I can't find a "path" all laid out for me to look at. Just a lot of colorful blocks with class names. Other than sending them a note via their online form and hoping for a quick reply, is there a way to contact someone so I can have a conversation with someone at the Academy? I don't want to make a potentially costly mistake with VP if Wilson is the better route. It's hard to tell since their website doesn't seem to be designed to inform new-comers. Thanks for your help and for posting on your blog. So much appreciated...

    CD in SC

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    1. Caron, first, my apologies for the late reply (this post is so old, I'm always surprised when people post a comment). By now you've made your choice. I hope it is one that is a good fit for your family. Our son is a senior this year and we've gone a slightly different path with him than our daughter. I hope parents who homeschool understand that the options we have today make it possible to customize each child's education to fit their individual needs and talents. It's truly what makes homeschooling so great. Our son is currently taking two classes with WHA and is dual enrolled at Concordia university Wisconsin through their Promise Program. He plans to attend CUW next year.

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  6. Hello, thank you for your post. We are just diving deep into the world of homeschooling after 7 years of going to a classical Christian school. I am excited but feel lost. If you have some time to point me to a probable direction I would greatly appreciate it. We maybe considering WHA for the kids. But I am not sure if all of them should or shouldn't do it. Our daughter is going into 8th, sons 2&4th.
    But we live in DE. Thanks for any input. God be with you :-)

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    1. Hi Babitha, I'm not sure what more I can tell you, other than what is already in other replies. I hope you have found something that works for your family!

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