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Rural Missouri schools turn to online summer classes

Students enroll in online summer classes in Jefferson County. (Credit: KMOV)

HILLSBORO, Mo. (KMOV.com) – Like many rural schools across Missouri, the Grandview R-2 School District doesn’t have enough students or teachers to support a wide range of summer school options. Now, a growing online program is filling a void in rural schools.

Going into its sixth summer now, the Missouri Online Summer Institute expects to enroll 1,000 students from around the state who can choose from more than 100 courses. Funded by the state, students don’t have to pay tuition. Grandview teachers lead most of the classes. Credits can then transfer back to the students’ district.

“It originally started because we had a K-8 summer school and we were trying to figure out something we could do with our Grandview students in the high school,” said Grandview Superintendent Matt Zoph.

“So we brain stormed and decided we would have a virtual class where the kids don’t have to come into the building and our teachers didn’t have to come in and it started from there with our students and then we started getting requests from other districts. It’s kind of grown into a statewide program,” said Zoph.

Students have a range of reasons for enrolling. Some are using it to get ahead.

“I took a math class, physics, health and personal finance online,” said Mitchell Zoph, who happens to be the superintendent’s son.

Other students have used the online options to catch up.

“At first I was intimidated but once I started doing the assignments I’m like it’s really easy,” said AJ Heckenkamp who will graduate from Grandview this spring.

The program has been so popular, district leaders say they now have more students enrolled in the online classes than they have in their brick and mortar buildings during the traditional school year.

Classes start May 22. Enrollment is currently open and will continue through July 3. More information is available at www.mosummerschool.org.



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