The Recorder – Online Greenfield-based school opening learning workspace in Hadley

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Published: 4/3/2022 2:25:14 PM

Modified: 4/3/2022 2:24:36 PM

HADLEY — An in-person classroom and office space where extra help will be provided to students enrolled in a Greenfield-based virtual school is opening on the Route 9 corridor.

Greater Commonwealth Virtual School intends to use space that last housed a karate studio at Mill Valley Commons, 1 Mill Valley Road, to create a support center for students.

The space comes after the school tested a one-year pilot program in Leyden prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the space was too far away from the school’s demographics to be effective, a Greater Commonwealth Virtual School press release explains. Once the Hadley space became available in March 2020, the school quickly snatched it up.

“We worked hard to find a location that would meet our needs and the needs of students, and we couldn’t be happier with this space,” Special Education Director Darlene Thorpe said in the release. “It’s very close to the highway, and the proximity to the Five Colleges will make it easier to work with potential college interns.”

Students using the space will do so in a blended approach, as they will be supplementing their virtual classes with the additional assistance provided at the physical location.

“They’re coming there for more personalized, face-to-face learning,” Marc Richard, the school’s business manager, said at a recent Hadley Planning Board meeting.

The center will have space for four to five teachers and will be used two days for middle school students and two days for high school students, Richard explained.

The school hopes the new location is “inviting” to students as feeling “secure physically and emotionally” is conducive to learning, according to Hadley Support Center Coordinator Kris Provost.

“The goal is for students to make the space their own,” Provost said in the release. “A lot of what we are trying to accomplish is to get students to take ownership of the space, as part of them ultimately taking ownership of their overall education. This will allow them to understand what it is they need to do to achieve their goals in life, no matter what those goals may be.”

The school enrolls students in kindergarten through 12th grade from 273 cities and towns across the state.

Any middle or high school student enrolled in the Greater Commonwealth Virtual School within a “reasonable commutable distance” will be eligible to use the Hadley center, and busing will be available. According to the release, the school intends to cap the number of students at any given time to 12 to 15 middle school students and 12 to 15 high school students. The center will alternate days so that middle and high school students are not in the building at the same time.

As they did in November 2020, when the concept was first presented by Richard, members of the Planning Board said they have no issues with the project, as there is sufficient parking on site to accommodate the school, and that Richard should return to a meeting only to show what a sign for the school might look like.

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