For a school with no building, Sawyer Academy, a virtual school operated through USD 438 Skyline, is doing quite well, thank you.

The academy is doing so well, they had to hire an assistant, Meagan Householter, to get everything done. Currently the Academy has eight teachers.

Part of the reason for the growth is the addition of K-5 students to the curriculum, said Skyline Superintendent Mike Sanders.

The new K-5 program is "Calvert" and it is a very hands-on program for students. They have books and art materials and more.

So far, two students have signed up for the program but more are expected.

Since this is an online teaching environment, it is critical that parents get involved and stay that way.

If students don't spend 25 hours a week working on classes, they can be declared truants so it is vital that parents are actively working with their children.

The work is intense and rigorous so parents have to spend time getting the lessons ready.

Skyline is one of only a handful of schools in Kansas to use "Calvert" and it is a good curriculum.

"We're very pleased to be working with them," Sanders said.

The K-5 program is different from the 6-12 program that is strictly on-line.

Since the 6-12 program can be done entirely on-line, the Academy has a policy in place to make regular contact with the students.

The academy emphasizes weekly contact with students. This gives more one-on-one time with the students and helps them be more successful.

"It's nice to have the connectedness," Sanders said. "It's a very positive thing."

The 6-12 program is designed to align with the common core requirements for the state. This means the Academy students have access to the same lessons as students in middle school or high school.

Currently, the Academy has 14 students but is expecting to grow with the addition of the grade school students.

The Academy is designed to help students succeed. If a student has difficulty and doesn't pass a subject the first time, they can repeat the class for a better grade.

Students have to take the same 23 credits as public high schools. Students have to take state assessments at Skyline so the program is done entirely from home.

The Academy gives students who don't feel comfortable in a public school setting an alternative in-home learning situation where they are more likely to succeed.

For some students, it is a health issue that keeps them at home and the Academy allows them to succeed when they might not otherwise have a chance.

Still other students like the flexibility of an online education option. It gives them time to tackle other matters like working and earning an income.

The online academy allows students to work at their own pace and the increase their chances for success as well.

Students are monitored online. The staff knows when a student is online and what they are doing. It reveals how long they spend on a specific class and how they are doing in that class.

Students have the opportunity to interact live with the teachers and can ask questions if they get stuck on a problem. Students can also e-mail teachers for assistance if they choose.

Since the Academy is online, students outside the area can also take advantage of the online resources and get their diploma.

The academy has been getting good feedback from students and parents. If students enroll before Sept. 20 and meet the state requirements, tuition is waived.