TTSD Virtual Academy provides online option for Timberwolves


Senior Kadence Morgan (photographed by Jadee Morgan) participates in the TTSD Virtual Academy. Morgan appreciates the flexibility the program allows.

Akash Balakumar, Staff Writer

In the early months of 2020, the now seemingly-normal COVID-19 virus had an outbreak, shutting down schools nationwide. As a way to combat the deadly disease and somewhat preserve students’ educations, schools switched from the usual classrooms to video communication platforms. 

By the end of the school year there was an outcry from parents, students and teachers who wanted to go back to school full-time. Governor Kate Brown put out an executive mandate that all public schools had to reopen for full-time in-person learning. However, some residents of the Tigard-Tualatin School District wanted to stay online for various personal reasons.

As a response, the Tigard-Tualatin School District (TTSD) implemented the TTSD Virtual Academy. The virtual school was built on months of planning so students would have the same quality of education as in-person students.

Out of the numerous teachers that made the jump from TuHS to the TTSD Virtual Academy, math teacher Merrie Ross was one of them. Currently, she is teaching classes varying from AGS1 all the way up to PreCalc.

“I really like teaching online. Ten years ago I got a masters degree in ‘Teaching and Learning with Technology.’ I have been waiting for an opportunity like this,” Ross stated.

The 2021-22 school year is her 18th year of teaching, but in many ways it’s like her first.

Virtual learning is dramatically different from in-person, so she has had to recreate or adjust her lessons to better meet the needs of students. Although the commute to work is significantly shorter, it doesn’t make up for the loss of seeing faces, random laughter, conversations with students about their personal lives and meeting with coworkers to bounce around ideas.

Senior Kadence Morgan is one of the students participating in the TTSD Virtual Academy.

“If I had to choose between virtual and in-person for the rest of my schooling career, without a doubt I would go virtual,” Morgan said.

Some may assume that by having students do school through a computer would result in them getting off-task and experiencing a decrease in productivity.

However, Kadence stated, “It has actually increased my productivity because I can now work on assignments while listening to the teacher explain concepts I already understand.”

Some of the cons he mentioned were that there are no human connections and that you can’t just walk into teachers’ classrooms to talk with them, but instead virtual students have to make an appointment first.