Internships aid in preparing future online teachers

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As virtual schooling continues to surge in popularity, there is a growing need for new K-12 teachers who understand how to teach in an online environment successfully. To help meet this need, the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is teaming up with area colleges to pair teachers-in-training with its online instructors in a first-of-its-kind internship program. Six University of Central Florida (UCF) education majors are in the middle of a seven-week internship where they are working hand-in-hand with FLVS teachers. Interns were chosen because they expressed an interest in teaching online. UCF student Katelyn Richardson, who is majoring in English language arts education, was chosen to participate in the internship program, but has not yet begun the virtual portion of the program at FLVS. She will begin her virtual internship in the second week of March.

FLVS, founded in 1997, provides virtual K-12 education solutions to students throughout the country, offering more than 80 courses for middle and high school students. After spending seven weeks at FLVS, interns will spend seven weeks in traditional classrooms in central Florida, said Brian Marchman, instructional leader with FLVS. The program is being piloted with UCF as well as at the University of Florida in Gainesville, but Marchman said FLVS hopes to be able to work with all 10 of Florida's state colleges and universities eventually. Officials currently have established at least some communication with five. Marchman said the internship was welcomed immediately at UCF. World geography instructor Julia Maccarone, who has taught for 15 years, six of them with the virtual school, said she decided to leave bricks-and-mortar instruction for FLVS so she could work in an environment that was centered around students.

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