As I once again ponder the difficulties of rural living in the internet age, I have wandered into town to work from my favorite wi-fi enabled location, Panera Bread. In the early days if the transition from Illinois Virtual High School (9-12) to our current iteration of Illinois Virtual School (5-12, credit recovery, and PD) I sat here with my online family in a rare face-2-face initiative field by limitless caffeine and occasional meal breaks.
Four of us, nearly lived here at Panera for a period of some days as we literally built the schools web infrastructure into a new set of platforms. While the folks at our home office in Edwards worked on setting up the equally daunting business management, systems and administration side of running a school. We created the file structure, set permissions, developed import export protocols, and built from files a world which has taken care of the needs of roughly 15,000 students and professionals since. We dutifully patronized the establishment for meals, snack, and drinks making sure that we were a welcome part of the clientele, not a drain. Somehow or other in those intense days, this place became a part of us and a part of our story.
Now some 4 and a half years since, not much has changed. I still come here when working from home becomes too tedious, or like today, too broadband challenged. They still have my coffee, they still know me by name. Panera is a welcome old friend.
At Illinois Virtual, we have a stronger infrastructure but its still fueled by coffee and commitment to serving the needs of our students and state. We have more course offerings and have improved and updated existing courses. We have joined the State Virtual School Leadership Alliance. We continue to work with state and local policy makers on the online learning landscape of Illinois. Our funding varies from shoestring to tolerable but we still offer the best educational value for student and families in Illinois because we’re more than a website. We are teachers, staff, partner-schools and parents who are committed to providing great education to meet the needs of Illinois.