Our Structure

 

Orion Online Learning is an S-Corporation, formed by four partners, in 2007.  The S-Corporation currently has two partners, Dr. Joseph Gallegos and Dr. Jeanne Morales.  Dr. Morales serves as the corporate Vice-President and Dr. Gallegos serves as President.  Dr. Morales also serves as General Counsel to the corporation and to the schools.

Governance Structure

The Board of Directors' function is to oversee the formation of the schools and to monitor the corporate assets, which include all financial assets as well as trademarks owened by the corporation.  The Board of Directors do not function as a school board.  Dr. Joseph Gallegos operates the corporate offices, which also serve as the schools' headquarters offices, in Midland, Texas.  Dr. Gallegos serves as the policy making decision maker for all operations of the schools, and he seeks advice from stakeholders such as current learners, parents, mentors, and staff.

The purposeful decision-making structure is intended to remove all barriers for decisions affecting the schools.  The policies of the schools are intended to be small in number so to not impede the continuous improvement of services.

Our Schools

Orion Online Learning is home to Orion Elementary School, Orion Middle School, and Orion High School. Orion Elementary School, opened in 2013, is the newest addition to the Orion family. OES provides the same supportive environment for learning for learners in grades kindergarten through 4th grade. Orion Middle School, opened in 2008, brought middle school learning to the Orion family. OMS provides the same supportive environement for learning. Orion High School, opened in 2007, brought a new way of learning to high school students across the nation.

In late 2011, Orion Online Learning acquired the Alaska Virtual School, Arizona Virtual School, Hawaii Virtual School, and Oklahoma Virtual School from Illuminated Learning. By merging these four schools, Orion has reached learners across the states of Texas, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Virginia, California, and even reached out internationally to Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Egypt, and more.

Soon, Orion Online Learning will be opening the new South Africa Virtual School to continue Orion's mission to provide an exceptional education to all learners, regardless of their past history in education.

Partnerships

Orion Online Learning, in addition to our schools, has formed partnerships with various districts and organizations to further help achieve our mission. Some of our partners include Southern Dreams Youth of Port Gibson, Mississippi, Camden County High School of Kingsland, Georgia, and Journey Flexible Learning of Amarillo, Texas. Orion has also had a hand in digitizing the learning of schools districts and helping them create a new learning space such as the Hallsville Virtual School School at Hallsville Independent School District in Hallsville, Texas.

Other Programs

In addition to our schools and partnerships, Orion provides dropout recovery programs, Pharmacy Technician, and credit-transfer programs. Orion's RenewU program has recovered over 1,500 dropouts and continues to work to increase that number. Orion sees potential in all learners and believes all learners have the ability to learn, create, and succeed in school and life with the proper support. It is undisputable that many dropouts that cannot meet passing standards on state graduation exams, they are nonetheless intelligent, driven, and a positive force in society. Orion is proud that 99% of our recovered dropouts continue to college with their diplomas.

Our Structure

 

Orion Online Learning is an S-Corporation, formed by four partners, in 2007.  The S-Corporation currently has two partners, Dr. Joseph Gallegos and Dr. Jeanne Morales.  Dr. Morales serves as the corporate Vice-President and Dr. Gallegos serves as President.  Dr. Morales also serves as General Counsel to the corporation and to the schools.

Governance Structure

The Board of Directors' function is to oversee the formation of the schools and to monitor the corporate assets, which include all financial assets as well as trademarks owened by the corporation.  The Board of Directors do not function as a school board.  Dr. Joseph Gallegos operates the corporate offices, which also serve as the schools' headquarters offices, in Midland, Texas.  Dr. Gallegos serves as the policy making decision maker for all operations of the schools, and he seeks advice from stakeholders such as current learners, parents, mentors, and staff.

The purposeful decision-making structure is intended to remove all barriers for decisions affecting the schools.  The policies of the schools are intended to be small in number so to not impede the continuous improvement of services.

Our Schools

Orion Online Learning is home to Orion Elementary School, Orion Middle School, and Orion High School. Orion Elementary School, opened in 2013, is the newest addition to the Orion family. OES provides the same supportive environment for learning for learners in grades kindergarten through 4th grade. Orion Middle School, opened in 2008, brought middle school learning to the Orion family. OMS provides the same supportive environement for learning. Orion High School, opened in 2007, brought a new way of learning to high school students across the nation.

In late 2011, Orion Online Learning acquired the Alaska Virtual School, Arizona Virtual School, Hawaii Virtual School, and Oklahoma Virtual School from Illuminated Learning. By merging these four schools, Orion has reached learners across the states of Texas, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Virginia, California, and even reached out internationally to Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Egypt, and more.

Soon, Orion Online Learning will be opening the new South Africa Virtual School to continue Orion's mission to provide an exceptional education to all learners, regardless of their past history in education.

Partnerships

Orion Online Learning, in addition to our schools, has formed partnerships with various districts and organizations to further help achieve our mission. Some of our partners include Southern Dreams Youth of Port Gibson, Mississippi, Camden County High School of Kingsland, Georgia, and Journey Flexible Learning of Amarillo, Texas. Orion has also had a hand in digitizing the learning of schools districts and helping them create a new learning space such as the Hallsville Virtual School School at Hallsville Independent School District in Hallsville, Texas.

Other Programs

In addition to our schools and partnerships, Orion provides dropout recovery programs, Pharmacy Technician, and credit-transfer programs. Orion's RenewU program has recovered over 1,500 dropouts and continues to work to increase that number. Orion sees potential in all learners and believes all learners have the ability to learn, create, and succeed in school and life with the proper support. It is undisputable that many dropouts that cannot meet passing standards on state graduation exams, they are nonetheless intelligent, driven, and a positive force in society. Orion is proud that 99% of our recovered dropouts continue to college with their diplomas.

Continuous Improvement

Introduction to Continuous Improvement at Orion

Since our opening, Orion has ensured that quality continuous improvement is top priority in meeting the mission, vision, and priorities for our pioneering digital schools.  To that end, we have espoused the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence as the means to get to higher quality in the strategic areas we have determined are necessary to remain competitive and to offer the highest quality digital learning for learners in the 21st century.

This digital dashboard helps to understand how we do what we do, and how we have ensured that quality improvement without beuracracy has and will yield high performance for our learners, mentors, and staff members.

Mission, Vision, Core Values

Mission, Vision and Core Values

Over time, the organization's mission, vision, and core values have sustained our schools, and have been the catalyst for our institutionalized culture.

Mission

As the premier online high school in the country, we are helping students achieve their goal of high school graduation and we are producing students who are high performers beyond graduation.

The Vision

Empowering Learning. Renewing Hope.

As a simple slogan and vision, these four words espouse the founder's vision of empowering individuals to take charge of their own learning, while renewing hope in the promise of education.  Simple, but powerful.

Core Values and Beliefs

 Our Core Values Then and Now

Core values reflect our organization's growth and human capital.  Our values are reflective of how we do business, what we hold true within our culture, and how we intend to continue to institutionalize a culture of quality.  To that end, our values have changes through the same quality improvement processes espoused within the Baldrige Criteria:

 

Our Values Then Our Values Now
  •  Quality in service, learning and staff
  • Diversity
  • An ongoing commitment to improvement
  • the utilization of the plan-do-study-act cycle as a means for improvement
  • Renewal at all levels of the corporation
  • Standardization of processes
  • Learning
  • Mentoring
  •  Visionary leadership
  • Customer-driven excellence
  • Organizational and personal learning
  • Valuing workforce members and partners
  • Agility
  • Focus on the future
  • Managing for innovation
  • Management by fact
  • Societal responsibility
  • Focus on results and creating value
  • Systems perspective

Beliefs about Mentoring and Learning

A corporation founded by classroom teachers, Orion continues to believe in:

  • Orion believes that all learners, regardless of their past history with education, deserve a high quality, flexible way to learn content in a rich, supportive, online environment.
  • Orion believes that learning is active and not passive; that online content can be rigorous and challenging, but can help learners exceed their own expectations for learning.Orion believes that content is not deparmental.
  • Content must be integrated to be eaningful, that is, to privide meaningful learning for our own learners.Orion believes that improvement is continuous and that Orion's existence is critical for learners who need to be challenged and who need to be provided with the support necessary to be part of a high performing world outside of our schools.

 

Orion's vision statement:  Empowering Learning. Renewing Hope.; and Orion's proprietary learning management system, as well as our internal Protocol for Content Development, are two examples which reflect our beliefs.

 

Sustained Growth

Dashboard Chart 1-Sustained Growth Over Time

The chart below shows Orion's growth over time.  There has been consistent growth over time, due to the following factors:

[list class="checkmark"]

  • Achieved initial accreditation.
  • Partnered with public schools across the USA to focus on dropout recovery and prevention.
  • Created Non-Profit Partnerships with Southern Dreams of Mississippi, and Journeys Flexible Learning (TX), to reduce dropout rates in those states.
  • Acquired the trademarks for Hawaii Virtual School, Arizona Virtual School, Alaska Virtual School, and Oklahoma Virtual School.
  • Kept overhead low to keep the tuition rate as low as possible.  Maintained monthly tuition rate over time.
  • Achieved NCAA Eligibility Center Approval.  Maintained approval over time, and added 20 courses to the list.
  • Maintained an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Partnered with local colleges to offer concurrent enrollment courses to our learners.  Approved a policy to allow for four credits of concurrent enrollment toward Orion's graduation plan.
  • Increased the graduation requirements to 26, to include The Senior Project.

[/list]

 

Dashboard Chart 2 - Diversity Profile

The charts below represent the percent of learners who fall into each of the ethnicity categories.

                               

Data Dashboards

The Dashboard represents key areas of organizational performance represented by the most current results of data collected over time.

 

 

Dashboard Chart 3 - Performance Indicator 1:  Customer Service

Definition:  Learners will be satisfied with five key areas of service:

  • feedback
  • mentor availability
  • support services
  • flow of content (including navigation)
  • reliability and uptime of CMS and LMS

Data Collection:  Survey Data are collected at end-of-term, using the Customer Satisfaction Survey.  The customer satisfaction survey measure on a Likert Scale of 1-5, with 1 being the lowest score assigned.  The scale is converted to a 100% scale with an average of 5 being 100% on the gauge.

In addition to survey data, monthly calls to learners and parents occur, as well as orientation surveys.  The surveys are collected over time.  Graduate feedback is represented as qualitative data in another gauge.

Improvements over time:  Pre and post course surveys were initiated in 2012, and were revised in 2014 to better align with the organization's performance indicator and the update of the LMS.  As a result of feedback, the following improvement areas have been identified in order to increase customer satisfaction:

  1. Increase survey response to 100% from the current 88%
  2. Mentor training was identified in the areas of "substantive feedback"; "authentic learner work and feedback";
  3. The Mentor Center was updated to respond to the indicators, and to help mentors learn how to improve on their services to learners.
  4. The Parent Portal was designed to provide parents with real-time information
  5. The Advising Center was revamped to be more comprehensive as a support service.

 

The chart above represents Performance Indicator 2:  Results of Assessments (ACT Assessment Comparison)

Definition:  Orion will measure ourselves against others in three key areas:

  • Comparison of droput rates
  • College going and retention
  • ACT/SAT Assessments
  • Internal Assessments End of Course and Credit by Examination

Data Collection:  College Board data are collected quarterly for CEEB Code 444731.  College going and retention rates are calculated based on acceptance into college, and retention is collected at the end of year 1 of college.  End of Course Assessment data is collected for those learners opting to take and/or required to take those assessments.

In addition to College Board data, Orion calls college learners to speak with them about their first year, and calculates the retention rate based on that.

Improvements over time:  There were insufficient numbers of test takers (ACT and SAT) in the formative years of the school; however, since 2010, there are sufficient numbers of test takers to enable Orion to collect that data.  Standards based assessments were developed in the core areas, to assess learners, as well as to assess all internally developed proprietary course.  The following areas have been identified as areas for continuous improvement for Performance Indicator 2:

  1. Add at minimum, two courses per quarter to the course catalogue.
  2. Add assessments for Government and Economics; Calculus; and Advanced English
  3. Create and deploy the Orion Writing Center as part of each course (Module 0)
  4. Identify a required writing genre for each grade level starting at grade 6, and implement that as the first required task in each of the Language Arts Courses
  5. Re-align all courses to Standards for Mathematical Practice, as identified by NCTM and other Research.
  6. Revise all Language Arts Courses to require two additional novels, and more authentic response tasks.
  7. Revise Science courses beginning with Biology and ending with AP Physics.
  8. Partner with online lab provider, or continue with current partners in science.

 

 

The chart above represents Performance Indicator 3:  Diversity and Qualifications of Staff

Definition:  Orion will recruit and retain highly qualified mentors and staff and will retain a high level of internal customer service by:

  • Supporting the current mentors in professional activities that will enable them to be high performers for our learners.
  • Supporting mentors and staff to utilize the tools in the Mentor Center
  • Providing ongoing coaching and mentoring of mentors through the digital learning environment.

Data Collection:  Survey data are collected from current staff, to allow Orion to improve upong services. The guages, above, represent a set of the latest data from the Mentoring Survey. The data are collected using a Likert scale from 1-5, with one being the lowest level of satisfaction, and five being the highest.  The data are averaged for representation on the dashboard.  (100% is the highest, for example).

 Indicator 3 Improvement areas were identified to be:

  1. Update of the LMS in order to improve quality of tools such as the grade book, and video conferencing
  2. Continuous improvement and addition of Mentoring videos and handbook to provide the just in time training necessary for mentors to provide high quality services to learners.
  3. Recruit staff through external networking (current mentors nominate colleagues for mentoring positions at Orion).
  4. Quarterly supervision of Mentors through a coaching model in order to maintin Orion's quality standards

 

The Orion LMS and Content

 Pioneering the LMS and Content Development

During the summer of 2006, Orion's founders created a set of courses utilizing the latest technologies available at the time.  The latest technologies helped us create and package courses for uploading into the Learning Management System (LMS).  Historically, Orion has created our own LMS with the assistance of some very talented programmers across the world.  In the 'early days', we utilized a very simple delivery system, which housed our own forum, as well as messaging and instant messaging areas.  We began loading SCORM compliant content into the LMS late in 2007, and have been on a development and revision schedule every since.  The following table depicts our work:

 

  2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Content 16 Core Courses plus 4 electives 6 electives 4 AP Courses Created a revision schedule for Core Courses Revisions round 1 Revisions round 2 Revisions round 3 and looked at drafts of CCSS Realigned and adopted iNacol Standards for development.  Started revision schedule Continued realigned and alignment to iNacol, and ADA
LMS Proprietary, and utilized Adobe Connect for live meetings

Continued with Adobe Connect and added BB Forum and Homework Center.  Added Orion Library and Collaboration Center

Added digital content to the Collaboration Center Workded with Docebo (Italian group) to modify their Open Source to fit our needs.  Integrated DimDim for live collaboration and added video streaming to all courses Updated LMS to add a Mentoring and Collaboration Center Updated LMS to create a navigation for Middle School Updated courses and Orientation Center Completed round one of Orion Credit by Examination (CBE) Updated to ADA standards, and to HTML5 requirements.  Updated for mobile access.

 Through the years, we have added the following to our our community, and have then retro-fitted our LMS:

  • Social Community - Our social community is a vibrant community where learners and mentors can get to know one another in a safe environment.  Only registered learners and mentors and parents have access to the community.  To date, the community residents have created groups for supportive causes; have created tutoring centers; and have otherwise gotten to know each other in the digital environment (outside of the classroom).
  • Mentor Center - We have integrated a Mentor Center into our main area.  The purpose of the Mentor Center is twofold:  1. A place for information that is pertinent only to mentors; and 2.  a place where Mentors can learn about ours and their services in short time spans.
  • We have integrated SMS into all course rooms; have integrated SMS as one of our communication features;
  • We publish a weekly newsletter titled, "The Weekly Warrior", which is accessible by all, as well as a number of other newsletters.

 

How We Communicate

 Communicating to customers and stakeholders requires an ongoing commitment to ensuring that the our organization's culture, purpose, vision, and mission, are shared among the groups.  To that end, we publish and distribute through the following means:

 

 

 

Receiving Group Weekly Warrior Newsletter Advising Notes Mentoring Notes Parent Newsletter Facebook Twitter YouTulbe Learn. Create. Succeed. SMS Updates
Parents X     X X X   X X
Learners X X     X X X X X
Mentors X   X   X X X X X
Partners X             X  
Staff/Other         X X X X X

The effectiveness of our communication depends on two factors:  Subcribers who self select a subscription, and whether or not the subscriber is reading and accessing the information once the information is sent.  The data below indicates the number of subscribers to each device, as of 2014 end:

Improvements over time:  Communication and interaction survey were initiated in 2012, and were revised in 2014 to understand the means by which learners, mentors, parents, and staff frequently utilize social media as well as other media.  Detailed data are collected utilizing our internal data system (mailing data), to determine whether or not messages were read, links were clicked, as well as other data.  To that end, we have identified the following improvement areas for our communication plan:

  1. Increase Weekly Warrior subscriptions to enable all current learners and staff to receive and respond.
  2. Increase to 100% the number of mentors who read and respond to Mentor Updates. (currently that number is 98%)
  3. Added the ability to respond to SMS, not just receive (2014)
  4. Identified the persons responsible for daily updates on Facebook and Twitter to increase awareness, as well as system messaging.
  5. Identified the persons responsible for internal calendering and announcements posted in the Social Area.

Contingency Planning

Planning Ahead

Contingency planning is an integral part of ensuring that Orion runs smoothly if in fact there is a break in service or if data are compromised.  The first plan here, is a contingency plan in the event that servers and/or data are compromised:

 Crisis Management

Although we cannot anticipate crises, we can have a plan in place in the event crisis occurs.  The chart, above, represents our crisis management in the event of data or file loss.  We do that through redundancy.  The table below, represents information regarding other types of crises that may occur:

 

Death of a Learner Death of a Mentor Teacher Loss of a family member Mentor Leaves/Resigns Localized Event-Crises at Home

In the event of this occurring, we:

  1. Provide social/emotional counseling either through Orion, or we contact a local provider
  2. We notify learners through phone calls and through messaging, allowing them to call in for information.
  3. We honor the learner by providing an honorary diploma to the family.

In the event of this ocurring, we:

  1. Notify learners in the courses affected;
  2. We provide social/emotional counseling either through Orion, or we contact a local service provider (at our cost).

In the event this occurs, we:

  1. Provide a leave of absence for the learner, until he or she canreturn.
  2. Offer counseling either locally or through Orion.

In the event his occurs, we:

  1. Notify the learners in the courses affected.
  2. Provide a time when learners can call in and ask questions.
In the event something that is not metioned here occurs, we provide any of the same services that we provide through the others specified crises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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