Virtual Academy of Lafourche, 639 Harrison St., Thibodaux, uses an online curriculum to prepare students for college or a careeer upon graduation.

We asked Julie Bourgeois, director of the Virtual Academy of Lafourche, to answer some questions about the nonprofit’s work and needs. Her edited answers follow.

1. What specific services do you provide?

The Virtual Academy of Lafourche is a Type 1 Charter School that services approximately 500 public school students yearly who reside in Lafourche Parish. VAL provides an online curriculum for its students grades K-12. VAL also provides remediation and advanced services through regular and summer programming for its students and students who reside in other school systems. VAL also has two career counselors who work with our high school students to prepare them for post secondary experiences whether they be continuing education or seeking employment.

2. Tell us a short story that illustrates how your services have helped others. 

VAL's services provide every student with the capacity to reach their highest potential. All of our students are educated in a small setting (10-12 students per teacher) and each moves through the curriculum at an individual pace.

VAL has assisted students who have dropped out of school re-enter school and earn their high school diploma. It services students in grades K-12 who need additional academic support to be successful in school and it services those students who excel academically.

VAL enrolled a young mother who had dropped out of school and was four credits short of a high school diploma re-enter school and earn her high school diploma. Today she attends vocational technical school and is working on her Certified Nursing Assistant credentials. VAL enrolled a young man who was a dropout earn his high school diploma and now he serves our country in the military. VAL also enrolled a young girl who wanted to finish high school early. She was able to earn all of her credits in one year, graduated, went on to college, finished at 18 and is currently in medical school. Another early graduate also finished college at 18 and today she is working on her doctorate in psychology. VAL provides services for the students with the most need, those that excel and everyone in between.

3. What data can you cite that would give people an idea of the extent your services are needed in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes?

Fifty percent of our student body receives special services through special education and 504. VAL also provides remediation services to students who need additional academic support and provides summer programming for all age groups who may have failed a course or courses during the school year.

4. What are the qualifications someone needs to meet to receive your services?

All students must be of school age and reside in Lafourche Parish.

5. How can someone apply?

Contact Dianne Brown at 446-2877 and she will guide you through the application process, which includes completing a packet of information on the students.

6. What is your annual budget? Where does the money come from? What is your biggest fundraiser? How can people donate? How many paid workers do you have on staff? How many volunteers?

Our annual budget is $2.5 million and it comes from the state and local funding sources (Louisiana Department of Education and Lafourche Parish School System. VAL's largest fundraiser is its annual gala. People can donate to the GALA by contacting Mary Reynaud at 632-3169. VAL has approximately 125 employees and a parent volunteer group of approximately 40 volunteers.

7. What is your organization's greatest need?

Our greatest need is computers to use for testing and to lend to students who may not be able to afford a computer.

8. Does your group need donations of money, services or goods? What are those needs and how can people donate?

VAL welcomes any and all donations and services. Computers, school supplies, tutoring services are welcome. Contact Julie Bourgeois at 446-2877 for more information.

9. Is there anything we haven't asked that you would like people to know about your nonprofit, the services you provide and the people who receive those services?

The Virtual Academy of Lafourche was created to serve those students who need a different type of educational setting to be academically successful. Our mission is to serve each student's individual needs.