What's New At IVLA?

Meet Lauren Herrera - IVLA's First Teacher hired in 2007
Starting at IVLA was a game changer for my family. When I got hired, I had recently had a baby who had some medical issues, and I needed to be home to care for her. This made it very difficult for me to return to my classroom teaching position. I found IVLA, and have felt at home ever since. IVLA was first starting up when I got hired. We had very few students, one curriculum option, and things were structured very differently. It certainly has grown over the years!! The number of states and countries continued to expand, only making my job more and more exciting. I love being able to learn about different countries, customs, and cultures around the world through the eyes of the families that I work with. IVLA has provided opportunities to so many families, and it makes me proud to be a part of the IVLA community. I have had families throughout the years tell me how it has changed their lives. At their brick and mortar schools they didn’t fit in, and IVLA has helped them soar to new heights, and that makes me incredibly happy to be a small part of their story. I truly enjoy being able to customize a plan and a program that suits each individual’s needs. It is one of my favorite parts of IVLA, and I am passionate about finding the best fit for each of my students. Another aspect of the online schooling community that I love is creating new programs, and pursuing new ideas that continue to help IVLA grow and become better every year. It has been really amazing to see how far the school has come over the years. I truly believe that is because the school is run, starting at the top, with leadership who really cares whole-heartedly about the families we serve. We are always striving to find ways to make the experience the best it can be for our students. I have been fortunate enough to be here at IVLA since the beginning, and have been able to watch the school evolve. We are always working on new ideas, and it is really exciting to be a part of such an innovative team. I love being a part of IVLA because of the opportunity to help others, but I can’t forget to mention how IVLA has helped me. It has allowed me the chance to continue working in education, while having the flexibility to be a stay at home mom to my own children. It is such a great balance because I get to still foster my love for teaching and helping students, but get to spend a lot of time with my family too. IVLA is a great place to be, and I am excited to continue watching the school carry out its mission to help all students be the best they can be!
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Student Spotlight: Riley Beyers
Riley Beyers, an IVLA student who lives in South Africa with her mother, Joeleen Beyers, a primatologist, has had quite an extraordinary life! Ten years ago, her mom received a call regarding a baby vervet monkey whose mom was shot and killed on a farm. They had heard through friends that her mom studied primatology in college and had worked with primates before. After taking in the monkey, more and more continued to come in. Her mother founded Monkey Matters in partnership with another woman rescuing primates. Together, Monkey Matters rescues orphaned, injured, or displaced South African primates, and offers educational programs about primates and conflict resolution between wild primates and humans to the public. The workshops are given to both communities and schools to help foster a harmonious relationship between human and non-human primates. Because Monkey Matters is not a sanctuary, and they rehabilitate the monkeys in their home, Riley gets to spend time with the monkeys every time they have one! The length of time that the monkeys stay with them varies. Monkey Matters operates in a similar fashion to a halfway house for the monkeys; the goal is to have them leave as soon as possible, once they are ready. All their rescues that are orphaned or ex-pets must be sent to reputable primate rehabilitation centers for troop-forming. Monkey Matters has been working with the most successful primate facility in South Africa for many years and they are thrilled to see their monkeys released back into the wild. Riley has the rare and exciting opportunity to spend a lot of her time with the monkeys each day! She gets to help feed them, play with them, comfort them, and help in other ways with their rehabilitation. She has been able to capture her involvement with a treasure trove of photos and videos. Because the number of monkeys that they have at any given time and the care that the need can greatly vary, IVLA has been the perfect solution to her busy schedule. She can adjust her school schedule each day to accommodate the needs of the monkeys at any given time. The flexibility that IVLA offers has allowed her to participate in Monkey Matters as much as she wants! When she is not hanging out with the monkeys, Riley spends her free time drawing and writing short stories. She has every intention of continuing to work with animals in the future. After high school, she plans on attending college in the United States to study either wildlife or zoology. Riley, we are so proud of the impact that you are making in the life of each monkey you take in and cannot wait to see how many other animals you help! [video width="720" height="720" mp4="https://internationalvla.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/joined_video_80c360fdcd7240c4b23724a514db1a70.mp4"][/video]
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IVLA's 2021 High School Graduation Ceremony
It is with immense pride that we congratulate the graduating class of 2021! This academic year was unlike any other. Despite the challenges and obstacles, every single one of our high school seniors persisted and succeeded. We are so proud of their accomplishments both in and outside of school.  Our virtual graduation took place on Wednesday, June 16th for our faculty, students, and their families to celebrate this milestone together. Mrs. Heather Boyd, our history teacher and success coach, served at the Master of Ceremonies throughout the program. She dedicated the ceremony to the tenacious students, citing “In many places this year, the world stopped. But you, IVLA students, you kept going. We are so proud of you.” IVLA Director, Brittany Knop, kicked things off and set the tone for this momentous occasion by sharing “Right now, I want you to bask in this moment, because this moment, right now, you are here. You have made it.” Guest Speaker and representative for the Class of 2021, Hadia El Hallou, shared her experience with IVLA for the last three academic years. In closing, she encouraged her fellow classmates to reflect on this moment with these wise words: “The time has come for us to pass our knowledge around. The time has come for us to engage in further growth. And the time has come for us to contribute to building the future.” Following her outstanding words, each member of the Class of 2021 was featured in a touching slideshow which included quotes from the students and their family members. Viewers were then treated to a surprise guest appearance by four-time Olympic gold medal winner in women’s basketball, Lisa Leslie. Her advice rings true and is something that the students can carry with them through their lives: “Remember, tough times, they don’t last always, but tough people do.” Before closing, IVLA teachers shared their heartfelt messages of support and encouragement as they looked back on the last year and to the future of their students. This was a graduation ceremony that we will remember for years to come! We cannot wait to see how each of our graduates grows and everything that they will accomplish as they embark on this new journey. Congratulations, IVLA Class of 2021!If you missed the graduation ceremony, please join us in watching and celebrating our graduates here:
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Student Spotlight - Hadia El Hallo
Hadia - online high school studentWe are pleased to introduce you to one of our outstanding international students, Hadia El Hallou. Hadia currently lives in Morocco, Casablanca and has just graduated high school! She will be embarking on her journey to receiving her Bachelor’s degree soon, and is already looking even further ahead in her future. Her dream is to attend either Columbia University or Yale University for law school once she completes her undergraduate schooling. Hadia’s goal is to one day become an attorney. In practicing law, she hopes to be able to help both people and the world with her work in the legal field. Hadia - online high school studentIt’s not surprising that she is looking to attend law school abroad, as one of her favorite things to do is travel and learn about new cultures. Two of her most-loved places to visit are New York and Canada. Some of her other hobbies include cooking, going to museums, reading, and photography. Hadia has developed her passion and talent for photography over the years. Her use of light and composition are remarkable and create stunning photos. Being a student at IVLA for the last three years has given Hadia more free time to discover and learn new hobbies. She has also had the ability to focus on her mental and physical health while still prioritizing her academics. When reflecting on her time at IVLA, some of her biggest takeaways are her capacity to be responsible, independent, and her mastery of overall balance. She credits her amazing and understanding teachers with supporting and achieving these skills. In her personal life, her role models are her mother and sister. She cannot imagine being the person she is today without their help, support, and love. Hadia believes “learning to be limitless, so it is never too late to appreciate yourself for who you are!” We couldn’t agree more and look forward to seeing all that she accomplishes! https://youtu.be/T57W8RadpFA
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Student Spotlight: Adriana Toulier, 12th Grade
Meet Adriana Toulier, an IVLA student who lives in Lima, Peru, where she is part of the national artistic swimming team! She began artistic swimming when she was ten years old and has excelled at the sport ever since. Nearly seventeen and currently in 12th grade, she has represented Peru in international tournaments as both a junior and senior. Adriana plans to continue competing as an artistic swimmer once she graduates from high school. As an admirer of the United States artistic swimming team, she would like the experience of being on their team. Their innovative routines, motivation, and determination to get one of the last tickets to the Olympics are an inspiration. Competitions have provided Adriana with the opportunity to travel all over the world, including various countries across four continents: North America, Europe, Africa and South America. At a young age she had to learn how to balance training, competing and school while succeeding at all of them. While she attended traditional school, she had to take time off, sometimes missing classes for more than a month at a time or leaving school early every day, in order to be at practice. Since starting classes at IVLA in August of 2020, she hasn’t had to make those sacrifices. With the benefit of being able to manage her own class schedule, she can better focus on her studies at her convenience, day or night, and work around her training. Self-described as very persistent and someone who never gives up, we can’t wait to see what else she achieves both in and out of the water!   https://youtu.be/sAOTlr6dxjs Watch Adriana Toulier and her team compete!    
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Fun Activities for Online Summer School Students
With summer just around the corner, online summer school courses are the perfect opportunity for students to continue advancing their learning.  Our students can easily create a personalized summer school program that fits both their needs and their schedules.  The flexibility that our programs offer to students, and in turn, their families, make them the ideal courses to enroll in over the break. This flexibility allows for plenty of time for fun and exciting activities throughout the season.  Since the courses can be taken any day of the week and any time of the day, families can spend part of each day exploring and creating memories together.  We’ve compiled a list of fun family summer activities to encourage a sense of adventure.  Plus, just because something is fun, doesn’t mean that we can’t learn while we’re doing it.  Each of these activities can teach us something, whether it be in science, history, or math, there’s always a lesson that can be applied. Taking COVID-19 into consideration, we’ve broken down our activities into three different categories, based on the restrictions in your local area.  We hope that this inspires you and your family to make the most of the warm weather and your time together.  We would love to see and hear about any adventures your family plans to go on this summer!  Send us an email here: [email protected]com when you get back and we’ll feature it on our website!  Adventure awaits below:

DestinationsFun Activities for Online Summer School Students

  • Visit a museum
  • Visit an aquarium
  • Visit a zoo
  • Go miniature golfing
  • Visit a farm


  • Visit a beach, lake or river
  • Fly a kite
  • Take a walk or hike on a local trail
  • Visit a park
  • Go berry picking

At Home

  • Backyard camping or stargazing
  • Bake your favorite dessert or make homemade ice cream
  • Build an obstacle course
  • Make a scavenger hunt for your family
  • Plant a garden
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2021 $1,000 College Scholarship Winner
We are thrilled to announce the recipient of our 2021 $1,000 college scholarship. Please join us in congratulating our winner, John Vierra! Thank you to everyone who submitted their essays for consideration. We received many outstanding and competitive entries this year from students around the globe.

Meet our Scholarship Winner:

John Vierra was born and raised in the beautiful state of Hawaii and has three awesome siblings! He is currently a senior at Iolani School in Honolulu, HI and will be furthering his education at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. He competes on his school’s varsity golf team and absolutely loves the sport. John also often finds himself watching the news or debating issues with friends. He hopes to one day run for public office and is excited for the challenge that will bring. John, from all of us at IVLA, we wish you the best of luck as you embark on this new and exciting journey on the other side of the country.  Congratulations, again!
[caption id="attachment_14936" align="alignleft" width="553"]Scholarship Winner, John Vierra John Vierra[/caption]

Read his remarkable essay below:

When rumors started to circulate around campus about going online, no one really believed it. The virus seemed like something that would just fade away. These feelings of doubt dissolved the instant we checked our emails, only to find that what was once an idea would become reality. I remember how I had to completely reorganize my method of doing things academically. To be honest, it was the first time in a while that I had to truly critique the learning strategies I used. Many of my classmates shared the same sentiment, and many were surprised over how efficient online education can actually be. I believe that the most significant takeaway was how online learning can help students create, build, and sustain positive learning habits. During a traditional in-person school day, there isn’t much free individual time. There are breaks and free periods, but students are always surrounded by their peers. The bell schedule is always there to tell students when to get to class. When students were forced online, this whole concept changed. After moving to online learning, every minute outside of class was individual work time. Students had this freedom never before seen in a traditional classroom, but with it came responsibility. Students had to conduct an honest self evaluation of their habits. I believe that this is the silver lining in this situation. Students became exposed to new distractions and had to ask themselves some tough questions. Do I eat lunch early so I can work during the lunch period? Should I sleep in so that I’m fresh in the morning or should I get up early and get work done? Do I stay in one seat the whole day or should I work somewhere else when not in class? Students were put through the fire. Many parents had no clue how to help their children create online learning habits. After all, mass online learning is something unprecedented. Students learned a valuable skill. Online education requires planning and discipline. It requires building positive work habits that are not seen in a traditional classroom. Students quickly learned that they don’t have their teachers or friends to make sure they are on time. Students had to build their own routines that worked for them, and they had to do it quickly. Coronavirus was tough on everyone, but oftentimes moments of adversity show us things we never would have seen before. I believe it showed students that they can adapt; they can cultivate their own power habits. I think students all across the country, perhaps even the world, learned that online learning can be a positive asset. Coronavirus showed students the kinds of habits that are required and taught them to meticulously develop their own. Students were granted a major takeaway about online education, but there is no doubt that even after their academic careers they will take these habit-building skills into their future.
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What is Asynchronous Learning - A Complete Guide

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Synchronous Learning vs. Asynchronous Learning
    1. Synchronous Learning (Live Classes)
      1. Definition
      2. How it differs from distance learning
    2. Asynchronous Learning
      1. Definition
      2. Benefits of Asynchronous Learning
      3. Is it Lonely?
      4. Why it’s a great option for Military and Other Traveling Families
  3. The Future of Education - Is it Asynchronous Learning?
  4. What the Science Tells Us
    1. Starting School Later is Actually Better!
    2. Synchronous vs. Asynchronous - Why Asynchronous Wins


The number of students attending school online has greatly increased over the years particularly this last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Students are adapting to learning online in either synchronous or asynchronous classes. Parents looking for an online program, often search for programs that offer synchronous courses; however, research shows students prefer asynchronous learning and have better performance outcomes in asynchronous environments.    

asynchronous vs synchronous learningSynchronous Learning (Live Classes) vs.  Asynchronous Learning

To define asynchronous learning, it's important to understand what synchronous learning is first. 

What is Synchronous Learning?

Synchronous learning is a style of learning very similar to brick-and-mortar schools, except that you aren’t in the same room as other students. Synchronous learning refers to learning that occurs when the instructor and student are in the same place at the same time. This can be in a physical location such as a classroom or online in a live meeting room..  The defining feature of this method is the real-time exchange of information between instructor and students online or virtually. This can happen either in-person or on the internet through video conferencing software where teachers and students can engage remotely in real time.  OK, that makes sense! But how is it any different from distance learning? Most commonly, you'll hear people using the terms distance education or distance learning when talking about taking classes online. Synchronous learning is not a type of distance learning, but can be done via distance learning, and shares many similarities with a regular classroom. You still have a teacher, you still have to be up on time to get to your lessons, and you'll still have classmates participating in a class at the exact same time as you.  

What is Asynchronous Learning?

Asynchronous learning happens on your schedule - no early alarm required. One of the most convenient perks of distance learning is the ability to learn “when it fits my schedule.” Traditional courses provide set times and locations where students are expected to be present. Asynchronous learning is student-centered learning that can occur at different times and places. The learning material is prepared ahead of time by the teacher so the students can learn at their own time, place, and pace. The students and the teacher do not have to be in the same place at the same time. Asynchronous learning has many benefits including flexibility, working at your own pace, personalized learning, and fewer distractions. Asynchronous methods are often used in online courses because they allow students to interact with others in their class but don’t require them to be present simultaneously.

The benefits of asynchronous learning:

  • Age does not matter - You can find classes for any grade level, including traditional K-12 schooling.
  • Location does not matter - As long as you have an internet connection, you're good to go!
  • Traveling isn’t required - No more rushed mornings to get to school on time, getting stuck in traffic, or added travel costs! 
  • Technology makes life easier - With the world at your fingertips studying andediting has never been so easy. 
  • Accessibility - Asynchronous learning can be particularly beneficial for students who are neurodiverse or physically disabled. Students with a medical condition can work when they are feeling well or can work in shorter increments.
  • Flexibility - Students can log in and work on their courses at the time that is best for them.  Some students learn better in the mornings and some in the evenings. Many athletes and performers require this flexibility as it is the only way that they are able to attend all their classes and ultimately succeed.
  • Fewer distractions - Students are not distracted by what others are doing in their classes and can focus on the concepts they need to learn.
  • Students learn to be more independent - Students are more independent because the learning is more independent. They tend to be more independent thinkers, since they have to conduct research on their own as they wait to receive feedback or move on in the lesson alone.
  • No need to compete for class time and resources - The learning material is prepared ahead of time by the teacher so the students can learn at their own time, place, and pace.
  • Building self-confidence through control and empowerment - If the material is challenging, they can take their time going through it. They can revert to previous learning materials to review concepts they may be struggling to understand without the worry of holding up their peers or the embarrassment of being the only one who does not understand
  • Opportunities to learn better organization and time management skills - Students are able to set their own schedule each day, create a routine that works for them, and stick to it. They are able to recognize when they are at their best for learning, and plan the rest of their day around their classes. They are then set up to participate in any extracurricular activities or other time commitments.
  • They can progress at the pace that is best for them -  Students who know the material can work through the lessons quickly and move on to content they have yet to master. Students can accelerate or slow down at their own pace and other students in the classroom won’t hold them back or move too far forward.

Are You Alone?

Just because you are learning alone, does not mean that you are alone! Asynchronous learning grants students the opportunity to be independent without being alone in their education. In some instances, it provides students with a complete online community to be a part of. For example, International Virtual Learning Academy equips its student with the following support:
  • A Success Coach - Success Coaches provide each of our families and students with a well-trained and dedicated person who will work with them to optimize the interactive learning experience. They can be contacted anytime with questions and concerns and help to identify the best curriculum, programs, and teaching methods to maximize student success.
  • Academic Advisors - Our academic advisors will stay involved through your student’s entire education career with IVLA. The advisor will work closely with the success coaches to assist in updating academic paths for continued student success. They may suggest assessment testing for students in elementary and middle school to ensure proper placement in grade level. 
  • Tutoring - Tutoring sessions are live, online, for one hour at a time, and offered at no extra cost. While teachers are present to provide guidance, students are encouraged to collaborate and help each other. The goal is to promote a student-led atmosphere that is both collaborative and educational.
  • Homeroom & Clubs -  Homeroom and clubs give students the chance to meet with a success coach and their peers in a secure online classroom. Students can interact with their peers and build friendships in a safe environment. Many come to homeroom and clubs from different countries giving students the opportunity to meet new friends from around the world.
  • One-on-one time and personal relationship-building with teachers - Our certified Teachers are passionate about providing students with constructive feedback, individualized learning, and additional online support and tools. Families and students can access their gradebook anytime online, and our teachers provide a grade report at the end of each class. Teachers pride themselves on getting to know their students and families so they can provide the best possible customized and flexible educational experience.
By offering this extensive and thorough support system, asynchronous learning students are invited to be active parts of their online community and provided with the tools to succeed.

Why ‘Async’ Learning is a Great Option for Military and Other Traveling Families

One of the difficulties children of travelling parents face is that their education is often disrupted at inopportune times. One state or country may teach different curricula at different times or at varying paces. So, if a child moves from one school to another, they may miss entire chunks of a curriculum or subjects that their other peers have already mastered. This can lower self-esteem and create learned helplessness, or a fixed mindset, both of which have a negative impact on achievement, health outcomes, and general well-being. Oftentimes children will blame themselves for not understanding, thinking it’s their fault they don’t understand, which, in turn, can cause negative interactions at home.  With asynchronous learning, students follow the same continuous curriculum at a pace that fits their unique needs while ensuring there are no gaps in their education. They are empowered in their own pursuit of knowledge which can increase motivation and positive self-image. Asynchronous learning provides traveling students with an excellent alternative that essentially solves all the issues that they have experienced with traditional learning. 

Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning in a Few Words

The main distinction between the two is that synchronous learning is live learning, either online or in-person, in real-time Asynchronous learning is an online learning environment that incorporates teachers and teaching resources but is a better option because it is accomplished without the use of live lectures. The benefits previously covered above outline the additional reasons why asynchronous learning without the use of live classes is a better option.

The Future of Education - Is it Asynchronous Learning?

We've tackled the synchronous vs. asynchronous comparison. Now let's take a look at why asynchronous learning is a more powerful form of education and the most effective option for the future of online learning.

Will Asynchronous Learning Ever Be the Future of the Traditional, Classroom-Based Learning Experience?

At the exponential rate technology progresses, it’s very possible our grandchildren and great-grandchildren may all attend school virtually. Asynchronous learning is just the beginning, the first step, of moving in that direction. Whether or not asynchronous learning takes over the world of education, we believe it has many benefits for students who find accessing education in traditional environments limiting. Do you think we're heading towards a virtual future? Let us know in the comments below!

The Science Behind Asynchronous Learning

Starting School Later is Actually Better!

We all know how awful it feels to go without a full night's sleep, and how it can affect our productivity the next day.  However, as children head into adolescence, lack of rest can become a more serious issue. Young people typically go to bed later and wake up later by an average of two hours. This is a natural occurrence in an individual’s stage of adolescent growth although it’s often assumed to be a trait of laziness. Comparatively, a student going to school before 9:00am would be like an adult starting work before 7:00am.  On top of this, many schools will offer pre-school sports training sessions, all of which adds to what had been dubbed a 'sleep deprivation epidemic' (Hagenauer, 2009). Several studies have shown that starting school later in the day has huge benefits for learners. These studies show that attendance, grades, and sleep are all improved across students in K-12 when schools start later in the day. Again, it’s important to realize that this isn’t simply a preference for students, but rather a proven neuroscientific fact that the typical circadian rhythms of a growing child  occur later than those in a fully-developed adult brain. Everydayhealth.com explains more about the benefits of delaying school start times. Asynchronous learning acknowledges and takes into consideration this important health pillar and allows and encourages students to get a full night’s sleep.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous - Why Asynchronous Wins

If none of the above resonated with you, perhaps better grades might pique your interest? Asynchronous online learning is, according to science, the clear winner. Fancy a bit of dry bedtime reading? Consider perusing 'Educational Outcomes of Synchronous and Asynchronous High School Students: A Quantitative Causal-Comparative Study of Online Algebra' (Berry, 2017). Just in case you decided against indulging in that bit of light reading, the study found that “synchronous students had significantly lower end-of-course grades and standardized test scores than asynchronous students.”

Wrapping Up

With the advent of new digital technologies, novel methods of learning are continuously developed and implemented across diverse platforms. As we found out, asynchronous learning could be an answer to some of the education problems in our schools today with its many demonstrable benefits.  If you're looking for more information about this topic, we encourage you to review the resources provided at the end of this article to learn more about both synchronous and asynchronous teaching strategies.  Learn more about our asynchronous K-12 online curriculum options.   References: 1 Berry, Sharon. Educational Outcomes of Synchronous and Asynchronous High School Students: A Quantitative Causal-Comparative Study of Online Algebra 1. 2017. Northeastern University, PhD dissertation. https://repository.library.northeastern.edu/files/neu:cj82qm059/fulltext.pdf   Hagenauer, M.H., et al. Adolescent changes in the homeostatic and circadian regulation of sleep. Developmental Neuroscience. 2009;31(4):276-284.
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NHS 2021 Spring Service Project
[caption id="attachment_14912" align="alignright" width="300"] IVLA students have been making trips to their local donation centers![/caption] We are excited to announce our NHS Chapter’s Spring Service Project 2021! We invite you to join us this season from March 10-April 21. Our goal is to help our communities by donating items to organizations in need, such as Goodwill or The Salvation Army. These may include clothing, toys, and COVID-19 necessities. This is a project that students and their families and friends can participate in to make an even bigger impact! For more information, and to see photos of our students making a difference, please visit us on Instagram at @IVLA_NHS.
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States With Special Online School Requirements
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