Brandywine Innovation Academy sees increased interest as students prepare for second semester

NILES – The beginning of the school year’s second semester begins for Brandywine Innovation Academy students next week.

“There are lots of new kids trying to enroll right now,” said BIA Principal Michelle Wruble. “We are just in the middle of doing all the enrollment work we have to, getting their records and scheduling done.”

The academy is a virtual one, and also offers electives and sports to online students.

The final numbers of enrolled students are still uncertain, Wruble said, as the state requires a minimum amount of interaction and work to be done before a student is officially counted for programs like BIA.
“The reports we have look lower,” Wruble said. “If it’s in an in-person classroom, if the student is there, they’re counted. But virtual has other requirements such as completing lessons, doing so many communications. We didn’t have that happen for all of our students.”

With all of the requirements needed to be counted in the program, Wruble said the numbers of enrolled students in the fall actually fell from previous years.

“They may have enrolled in school, but then they didn’t show up and didn’t do the work,” she said. “It was easy for those kids to go under the radar.”

For the students and parents who have successfully navigated through the first semester, Wruble said there was a learning curve to adapting to the blend of self-paced and live-sessions of learning with educators. The school is working hard to keep students engaged in lessons and keep them learning, she added.

“The teachers are so involved,” Wruble said. “Kids can schedule online sessions, either Google Meets or Zoom meetings with our teachers. We offer that to everybody. It’s one thing to talk or email, but it’s another thing to interact with teachers in math or science, where they’re speaking directly to them. It helps with that focus and engagement. We want students to know who to call right away to ask a question. It’s so important for them to get an education and graduate.”

Wruble said one of the top reasons parents and students are inquiring about the BIA this year is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were hoping that [case numbers] would be better right now,” she said. “Right now, even at Brandywine Middle and High School they had students returning to in-person learning, but others are switching to virtual. That number has still balanced out to the same numbers seen in the fall.”

Enrollment continues for Brandywine Innovation Academy. Wruble said those parents and students interested in information or registration can call (269) 683-8805 or stop by the school at 1830 S. Third St. in Niles.

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