Author’s note: I have titled this article Virtual Horizon. The definition for “virtual horizon” is: The horizon line is a line drawn across a picture.  It is essential for a picture to have a horizon line if a person wishes to communicate from what perspective a person is observing the picture (from above an object, below an object…etc).   It is not necessary to include the horizon line in the picture. However, it is important to include a ‘virtual’ horizon line in order to make a picture follow correct perspective. The horizon line is always one’s eye level. If one draws a line perpendicular to the ground outwardly from one’s eye level, this is what is considered the horizon line. The correlation between the article title and the idea that the horizontal line indicates perspective, an important part of education.

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Desert Sands Unified School District has added a new learning model to its extensive catalog of educational programs that meet the mission to “inspire and nurture every student…one opportunity at a time.” With a range of academic programs that put the learning needs, abilities, and styles of each student at the forefront, DSUSD offers a comprehensive virtual education from transitional kindergarten through high school. The Horizon Virtual Academy incorporates the traditional independent learning style of instruction with the latest technology and teaching techniques from the virtual classrooms developed throughout the past year. The program also adheres to AB 130, legislation passed just prior to the 2021-2022 academic year that outlines requirements for all independent study programs across the state.

Virtual Horizon: A DSUSD Author Explains

Principal Jose Ramirez, Ed.D.

According to Principal Jose Ramirez, Ed.D., “The innovative program is a further commitment to provide educational programs that meet individual needs and academic abilities using an alternative approach to learning as well as allowing students to progress and graduate free of the constraints of a traditional campus.”

Designed for the student and family wishing to benefit from the academic excellence of Desert Sands schools and eligible to participate in a non-traditional campus experience, Horizon Virtual Academy provides the same level of instruction found throughout DSUSD schools using digital and online media. A staff of teachers and support staff are assigned to Horizon Virtual Academy. Their efforts are solely directed to the students enrolled in the TK-12 virtual learning program and are receiving ongoing training for teaching in a digital world. Teachers virtually meet with their students both as a class and individually according to the needs of the student. All subject matters are included in the curriculum including physical education and the arts.

Parental involvement in the academy is an integral component of the program. Lesson plans are based on both DSUSD curriculum and the California Common Core Standards. Standardized testing will take place in the appropriate grades as determined by DSUSD and the State of California. These include the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), the Practice Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), and the DSUSD High School Math Placement/Diagnostic Test. The program is fully accredited by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) and high school curriculum will meet UC and Cal State A-G college entry requirements. Horizon Virtual Academy replaces the independent study program formerly offered by Horizon School and joins the homeschool assistance program.

Virtual Horizon: A DSUSD Author ExplainsHorizon Virtual Academy offers flexibility and independence combined with online teacher involvement and direct instruction. Currently approximately 700 students have registered for the Horizon Virtual Academy. Horizon School administrative offices are located at 43-330 Palm Royale Drive in La Quinta.

As a separate option, the Horizon Homeschool model is a fully accredited K-8 education program that works with the parents/guardians who use detailed weekly lesson plans based on DSUSD curriculum and the California Common Core State Standards. Homeschool parents/guardians are expected to work at least five hours each day with their students based on their own flexible schedule. Each parent/guardian receives continuous support from experienced credentialed supervising teachers who ensures accountability with all state and district requirements during mandatory weekly meetings. Homeschool information can be obtained at the Horizon School website.

Image Sources

  • Horizon: DSUSD
  • Horizon: DSUSD