We are proud to present this guest post by Christina Garza, Director of Virtual Learning at Brooks Academies of Texas, about Brooks Academies Virtual Instruction, the full-time online school option offered by Brooks Academies of Texas.
Brooks Academies of Texas is now offering remote learning to our students in grades K–9. Brooks Academies Virtual Instruction is a full-time, free, online school that gives students who have been learning successfully from home the flexibility to continue learning remotely.
Eligibility for Brooks Academies Virtual Instruction
The Brooks Academies Virtual Instruction program is open to all students who qualify. Students must qualify and register at one of the bricks-and-mortar Brooks campuses to participate. Under SB 15, a new Texas law passed last year, there are several criteria we need to meet in order to approve a student’s application and actions to take in order for students to remain virtual. This program is approved by TEA through June 2023. There is no cost for this program.
To qualify for virtual learning, Brooks students must have passed both the math and reading STAAR tests last spring. If they did not take the tests, they must have iReady scores that show they are working on or above grade level. For students who are new to Brooks, they must come in and take an AR Star assessment to see if they are at grade level in reading. We also ask parents to submit an electronic copy of the last report card of their previous school. Students must be at or above grade level in both Reading and Math to qualify for Brooks Academies Virtual Instruction.
How Students Experience Virtual Instruction at Brooks
Our students in grades K–9 attend classes via Zoom for four hours a day, and at least two of those hours are synchronous—in other words, they are (virtually) face-to-face. The schedules are different for elementary school, middle school, and high school grades.
Elementary School Experience
In elementary grades, Math and Reading classes are 50 minutes each. Within those two hours, students experience Brain Breaks, and students in grades K–1 enjoy Teacher Read Alouds, while students in grades 2–5 participate in Sustained Silent Reading.
The last two of the four hours are meant to be independent time for the student to work on assignments in Google Classroom. At this time, the student is able to ask questions and ask their teacher for clarification. Unfortunately, families will not be able to choose their instruction times. Grades K, 3, and 5 have a set class schedule of 7:30 AM until 11:30 AM, whereas grades 1, 2, and 4 have a set class schedule of 12:00 PM until 4:00 PM.
Middle and High School Experience
For middle school students, each of the four core subjects is 50 minutes, with starting times between 8:00 AM and 11:50 AM. For high school students, each of the four core subjects is 50 minutes with a starting time between 11:00 AM and 4:50 PM. High school schedules are tailored to each student.
For upper school students, some electives may not be available in virtual learning, so the student will need to take these electives in summer school, online, or in person after the two-year virtual learning period has expired.
All classes are taught by Texas-certified teachers in real time. No teacher instructs both in person and virtually at the same time—in other words, there are no hybrid lessons. This also means that students may have different instructors for virtual learning than they had for in-person learning. Some of our virtual teachers are also full time administrators at the various Brooks schools.
The Brooks Academies of Texas district provides laptops and all curriculum needed, and students may participate in their home campus’ sports, clubs, and events.
Expectations for Brooks Academies Virtual Instruction Students
There are many expectations for students who are accepted into the Brooks Academies Virtual Instruction program. Students are expected to attend all classes daily. A student with three unexcused absences will receive a warning letter; after five unexcused absences, a student will be removed from remote instruction and must return to in-person classes.
Virtual students are also expected to complete all assignments. Parents may access the gradebook to review grades and assignments through the parent portal and Google Classroom. A student who misses three assignments in any subject area during a quarter will be removed from remote instruction and must return to in-person classes.
Students are still expected to take their progress assessments, as well as the STAAR test, in person at their home campus. Those who are receiving virtual instruction must participate in their classes with the camera on and their faces visible, and must also remain in the virtual setting until the end of the nine-week grading period. Parents must reconfirm whether or not they wish to continue virtually.
Many students have excelled in our virtual academy. The virtual platform has taught students how to manage their time to complete assignments and study for their online exams. Many parents have said that our program is like a mini college. While in class, students do not have those distractions that they would have in the regular classroom setting. They are able to focus on the lesson and the platform allows the teacher to provide the one on one support because of the ability to watch all students on screen at a time.
If Brooks Academies Virtual Instruction sounds like the right fit for your students, we encourage you to apply online. If you have questions about virtual learning at Brooks, please contact Christina Garza, Director of Virtual Learning at Brooks Academies of Texas, at Christina.Garza@brooksacademy.org .
Charter Moms Chats
Christina Garza serves as the Director of Virtual Learning at Brooks Academies of Texas as of September 2021. Before Director Garza stepped into her position, she served in other roles at Brooks Academy of Science in Engineering as Elementary and Upper School Teacher, Instructional Coach, and Dean of Students. The unique perspective she brings to the Virtual Academy comes from her vast experience inside the classroom teaching virtual, to leading other instructional staff through the Covid-19 pandemic. Christina is super excited to grow the Virtual Academy at Brooks and make it into one of the top tier virtual academies.
Read More About Brooks Academies of Texas
- “Guide to Enrolling in Brooks Academy Charter Schools in San Antonio for 2022–23,” San Antonio Charter Moms, March 3, 2022
- “Bonnie Salas Is a Parent and Leader at Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering,” Bonnie Salas, San Antonio Charter Moms, January 26, 2022
- “A Mother’s Angst: Kathleen Gomez Exercised School Choice in the Age of COVID,” Kat Gomez, San Antonio Charter Moms, May 27, 2021
- “Gratitude Banner and Crafts for Daily Gratitude Practice,” Paula Turner, San Antonio Charter Moms, February 19, 2021
- “Mindfulness Moments with Yoga for Classrooms,” Paula Turner, San Antonio Charter Moms, July 20, 2020
- “Charter Moms Chats—Class of 2020, with Adina Ichilov,” San Antonio Charter Moms, May 15, 2020
- “Charter Moms Chats—Virtual Learning, with Andrea Sabatino, Brooks Academies,” San Antonio Charter Moms, May 7, 2020
Read More About Online Schools for Kids
- “Great Hearts Microschools Offer Flexibility and a Sense of Community,” Kurtis Indorf, San Antonio Charter Moms, March 29, 2022
- “Guide to Enrolling at Founders Classical Academy Virtual,” San Antonio Charter Moms, March 24, 2022
- “Great Hearts Online: Classical Education in a Fully Online School,” San Antonio Charter Moms, March 22, 2022
- “Incarnate Word Virtual High School Offers Catholic Online School for Girls,” Anne Schaefer-Salinas, San Antonio Charter Moms, August 18, 2021
- “Choosing Online Private Schools,” San Antonio Charter Moms, May 13, 2021