VA Weekly Navigator

Your Guide to News, Updates, and Reminders in the VA

(Week of December 12, 2022)

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A Note from the Dean

With only a handful of school days left in 2022, I hope everyone is finding the crucial balance between giving your all to the important work before you, and making time for meaningful connections and experiences with family and friends. We're all anticipating a much needed break starting next week... and it can be really tempting to put off spending quality moments with those you love "until there's more time." But if there's anything we've learned over the past few years, it's that there is no telling what the future holds.

We all struggle with work-life balance -- especially me -- and so I urge everyone to make time for the people and things that are truly important, even when there are competing priorities from things that may seem more urgent. I do my best to turn to the Eisenhower Matrix (seen below) each week to lay out my plans, in an attempt to prioritize not only the "Urgent & Important" tasks, but also things that are "Not Urgent, but Important."

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Blocking electronics-free time with family, scheduling outings, reading, supporting local live music, preparing healthy meals, exploring nature -- these are a few important parts of my life that can be the first to get "bumped" by a million other urgent demands. But, when I spend 20-30 minutes, before the week carries me away, to prioritize, plan, delegate, and even decline, I can be more productive and feel more balanced all week.

Of course, everyone has to discover on their own what works best for them. If it's helpful, check out this 3-minute animated video about the Eisenhower Matrix. No matter what, please take a few extra moments each day to tell those you love, whether in person or in a short message, how much they mean to you. You can never overdo sincere appreciation, and it makes more of a difference than you might think.

Thank you as always for your support of our teachers and our program -- we couldn't do it without you!

-Steve Orders, Dean (6-12)

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Virtual Academy Calendar for December 2022

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Please click HERE for the overall MVA calendar.


Please remind your students to check their emails!

Students who are scheduled to participate in MCAP testing for the Fall/Winter window, received an email from Mrs. Cohen (MVA Testing Coordinator) with important information.

MCAP testing is only offered in-person at students’ home high-schools. The testing window runs from 12/5-1/20 and home schools have been communicating with students slated to test about testing dates and times for their testing site.

Marjorie Cohen, MVA Testing Coordinator is available to parents and MVA students if you have any questions. She can be reached at

Students involved in MCAP testing can participate in the optional zoom:

MCAP Testing Check-In/ Q & A

with Mrs. Cohen

Wednesday, December 14th from 12:00-12:30.

Mrs. Cohen will be there to answer questions and review information about testing and working with homeschools.

Zoom Link:

Meeting ID: 850 1645 1310

Password: mva

Parents should submit an MVA Attendance Form for the dates students will be in-person testing so our attendance secretaries can reconcile and excuse the absence.

MVA Counseling Updates

This week, our school counselor(s) will continue presenting lessons on the topic of child abuse and neglect. Please read the letter below for more information about these Personal Body Safety Lessons (PBSL). If you have any questions, please contact your child's counselor directly (link provided below).

PBSL English

En español PBSL

MVA Counselors 22-23SY

Weekly Meal Kits for MVA Students

MCPS and the Division of Food & Nutrition Services will be providing bulk meal kits to MCPS students enrolled in MCPS Virtual Academy. The boxes will be distributed at the designated locations listed below. The location you select will be your assigned location to pick up your pre-ordered meal kit.

Please utilize this form to place an order for our Bulk Meal Kits. Each Meal Kit will provide 5 breakfasts and 5 lunches.

***Distribution & Distribution Sites***

Meal kits will be distributed at each site listed below every Friday from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm.

  • Richard Montgomery High School: 250 Richard Montgomery Drive, Rockville, MD 20852
  • Seneca Valley High School: 19401 Crystal Rock Dr, Germantown, MD 20874
  • A. Mario Loiederman Middle School: 12701 Goodhill Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20906
  • Food & Nutrition Services Building: 8401 Turkey Thicket Dr., Gaithersburg, 20879


All orders for meal kits should be placed using the Google link a week in advance for distribution the following week.

The ordering link closes every Friday at 12:00 noon, and reopens Friday at 3:00 p.m.

Parents must provide the first and last name and ID number of each student for whom they are requesting a meal kit.

***Questions & More Information***

Questions regarding meal kits can be sent to the meals dropbox:

Use the link below to request meal pick-up on December 2:

Interim Grades Update

Interim reports will be posted to ParentVUE on Wednesday, December 21st. If you have trouble accessing your child's interim report, please call us at 240-740-6060. If you have question about specific classes or grades, please contact teachers directly via Outlook or ParentVUE mail.

Inspiring Person of the Week

The Virtual Academy has launched the Inspiring Person of the Week Campaign. The campaign is designed to elevate the diverse people who have contributed their knowledge and talents to the United States.

Students can earn two SSL hours by submitting an slide to the Inspiring Person of the Week committee. Student submissions must have the student's name and MCPS ID number, a title, a summary, a picture of the inspiring person, and links to additional information about the inspiring person.

Students can email their slides or Canva poster and reflections to Mr. Henrique Vissotto: Because this is a school-hosted SSL opportunity, we will keep a log of the students who submit posters along with their reflections.

Here is this week’s Inspiring Person of the Week -Tim Berners-Lee

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Passwords for Grades 3-12

Students in Grades 3-12 now have the ability to set and change their passwords for their MCPS accounts. Because this practice started last November, there are large numbers of students whose passwords expired November 30th, and other automated resets may be coming soon. Please have your child check their MCPS Gmail account to see if they have a message to update their password.

myMCPS Classroom (Canvas) Course

To help alert students to change their password, MCPS has created a new district-wide Canvas Course (Student Password Reset) that the central technology teams will use to target students whose passwords are about to change. During the month that students need to reset their password, students will be enrolled in the course and will be assigned a no-submit assignment to change their password. This will trigger an alert as well as an action item on the student’s to-do list in Canvas. This, in conjunction with the email, will help create an awareness for students using Canvas regularly as part of their school experience.

Chrome PopUp

In addition to the email and myMCPS Classroom course assignment alerts, MCPS has created a chrome popup for students. When students log into their Chromebook, a message will pop up in the corner reminding them to reset their password. (see image)

Directions for Student Password Changes

As was shared with the students in the email notifications to student Gmail accounts, they simply need to go to and log in with their current username and password. That will allow them to reset the password.

Password Report Access by School Staff

As a reminder, should any of the students fail to reset their password by the expiration date, the account does not get disabled, but the password is changed automatically and the new password added to the password report. The MVA office staff have access to that report and can provide the new password, if needed. Please call 240-740-6060 for assistance if needed.

Student IDs Ready for Pick-Up

Students who had their picture taken on the September 30 make-up day can pick-up their child's ID from our offices 7:30 AM -4:30 PM, M-F.

SSL Volunteer Opportunity

The Great and Small Therapeutic Riding, located in Boyds, MD, provides adaptive riding, equine assisted learning, and equine assisted occupational therapy (also known as hippotherapy) to a wide variety of ages and a wide variety of physical and mental disabilities. Great and Small is looking for volunteers for our Winter session, as well as future sessions. No horse experience is required! They have all volunteers go through an orientation process before being admitted into the program. Our next orientation is Sunday, January 8th, from 2:00 - 4:30 p.m. Please see this flyer for more information, and call Allie at with questions.
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Seal of Biliteracy

Does your child know a language other than English?

The Maryland Seal of Biliteracy recognizes high levels of proficiency in English and one or more additional languages!

The seal is a sign to future employers and college/university admissions that you are bilingual and biliterate, and it brings a sense of cultural awareness.

Testing open to ALL Juniors and Seniors!

Test Registration Link

Seniors test free! Juniors cost $21

Final Testing Date: February 2


Please encourage your child to register with the VA to Test!

Please make sure you select “Montgomery Virtual Academy” when you register. The test is online.

¿Eres bilingüe?

¿Te gustaría incluir el Sello de Bilingüismo en tu curriculum vitae para demostrarles tus destrezas lingüísticas a empleadores y universidades?

La escuela virtual está ofreciendo evaluación para este honor a estudiantes en 11° grado y 12° grado.

¡Inscríbete ya! Asegurase de seleccionar “Montgomery Virtual Academy.” La evaluación está en línea.


¡La evaluación de 12° grado es gratuita! 11° grado por $21

Fechas de examen: 6 de diciembre y 2 de febrero


Technology Challenges

We are aware that some of our students have been experiencing challenges with accessing instruction in the recent weeks. We have been in close contact with our partners in the technology office to try to identify what might be causing some of the specific issues. To support this work, we have been gathering data from our staff to try to identify any patterns. As we work to find a more comprehensive solution, we shared some tips at the MVAPTC meeting last month. The tips that were shared address obstacles that we typically see, as well as the current issues with the password resets and Zoom functionality issues. These tips have helped some of our students, but not all. In most cases, the issue is not with the device itself and does not require a device swap. Please continue to reach out to our main office at 240-740-6060 and email the Community Help Desk mailbox at . We thank you for your continued patience and willingness to help problem-solve.

MVA World Languages Website

The Montgomery Virtual Academy’s World Languages Department has a new website!

MVA language learners and anyone interested in American Sign Language, French, and Spanish can access a rich database of digital resources. Fostering our MVA vision for an innovative, personalized virtual learning community, this website enables students to engage with the MCPS World language curriculum outside of the “traditional” modes.

Students will receive up-to-date announcements on all the happenings in our department and ways they can engage with their peers in the virtual or in-person community. The website has over 30 web pages, a growing database of videos, and a plethora of stock images to engage our Gen-Z learners.

Please watch the following promo video and access the website.

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MVA Science Website

Hello Voyagers! Click here to access the Middle School Science website. This site will provide you information on our science educators, student learning processes, course learning topics, display student work, and other important information.

Attention Families of 12th grade Students

MVA Letters of Recommendation for College Applications

The process for students requesting a letter of recommendation from their Virtual Academy teacher is as follows. Virtual Academy students may choose one of these options below. This is very important: The VA student must ask the teacher first before adding the teacher to the Common Application or sending college admission information.

  1. The VA student will add the VA teacher to their Common Application (if the college uses Common Application). The student will be able to request a recommender through their personal Common application account. Then the student will inform the teacher to check their email for a request from Common Application.
  2. The VA student will provide their VA teacher with the college admission counselor’s email to their teacher. The teacher would then email their recommendation letter directly to the college admission counselor or admissions office email.

Mental Health Provider Resources for Children who have Medical Assistance

The Montgomery County Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services program offers mental health services for children and adolescent residents of Montgomery county who are uninsured or have Medical Assistance. We try to help as many people as possible, because we know how challenging it is to find mental health services. This list is intended to help you find treatment elsewhere if we are unable to help you. We hope you find it useful. Please see this link for more information!

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Virtual Cafe Zoom Link

Contact Jill Lynch at for more information!

Maximizing Student Engagement, Participation, and Attendance

Research indicates that meaningful personal engagement with their teachers and peers is one of the most important predictors of student learning and achievement.

As a result of a review of the research, the Montgomery Virtual Academy (MVA) presents the following revisions to its policies and expectations around student engagement, participation, and attendance for the 2022-2023 school year and beyond.

  1. All students are expected to appear on camera for the majority of every class
  2. Students should actively demonstrate engagement throughout each lesson.
  3. Students who demonstrate no engagement for the entire class period may be marked “Absent” for that class period.
  4. The MVA continues to expand opportunities for students to engage meaningfully with teachers, staff, and each other outside of the classroom.

For more detailed information on these expectations, please see this document. Thank you for your support and encouragement as we work together to connect students with their teachers and each other!

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Virtual cafe is held from 11:45 to 12:30 each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you are interested in being a student leader to help host, please let us know. Clubs are starting this week, see your sponsor for more information!

Student Newsletter

Did you know we have a separate newsletter for students, to help them keep up with all the important events and offerings in various areas of the MVA? Use this link to visit, and make sure your children are getting our updates each week.

Annual Notice for Directory Information and Student Privacy

Each school year, families are asked to communicate updates about contact information, health, directory withholdings, emergency contacts and more. These updates are now processed in ParentVUE using Online Registration to access MCPS Form 281-13 “Annual Notice for Directory Information and Student Privacy.”

Using this form, parents/guardians may also indicate that the student does not want to be recorded during virtual classroom sessions for future viewing by students in the same class. Completing this form does not exclude a child from having a camera on during non-recorded instruction. Parents/guardians who choose to complete this form should do so by September 12, 2022. Please use the following guide to support you in this process:

MVA Parent Teacher Council Updates & Reminders

MVAPTC (Montgomery Virtual Academy Parent Teacher Council) Announcements:

Request: MVAPTC is requesting $5 gift cards from a store of your choosing (Amazon, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Chipotle, etc) to be distributed to all the MVA staff for the holidays. Our goal is to provide one gift card per staff member to let them know how much we appreciate all their hard work as a community this school year. Gift cards can be emailed to or can be mailed/delivered to MVAPTC/Montgomery Virtual Academy, Attn: Staff Appreciation, 15 West Gude Drive, 2nd Floor, Rockville, MD 20850. If you wish to send a gift card or gift to an individual teacher or staff member, please send it to them directly as we do not have the volunteers to manage individual gift card distributions. Thank you in advance for your generosity!

New: Seeking parents/guardians and teachers/staff to form a subcommittee of the MVAPTC to make recommendations to the MVA regarding policies pertaining to attendance, grading, student engagement, schedule, improving parent/teacher communication, innovation, and more. Please contact Jessica, MVAPTC President, at to express your interest.

Staff Appreciation Wish Donation Wish List: Thank you to all who donated!

Shirts, Necklaces, and Earrings are available for purchase at the MVA office.

Next MVAPTC Meeting: Thursday, January 12th at 6:30 PM.
Meeting slides, meeting minutes and other documents are available for review on the MVAPTC website located at
Zoom Link:
Meeting ID: 830 0426 4203 & Passcode: mvaptc

Next MVAPTC Special Education Committee hosted by Andrea Levy: Thursday, January 19th at 6:30 PM.

(Please note that the December meeting has been canceled due to the holidays.)
Topic: Transitions: What does it mean to transition to the next school level?

Helpful Links:
Facebook page: Montgomery Virtual Academy Parent Teacher Council

Facebook Discussion Group: MVAPTC Discussion Group - Montgomery Virtual Academy Families & Staff (MD) Facebook Special Needs Discussion Group: MVAPTC - Children with SN - Montgomery Virtual Academy (MD)
Shirts, Dues & Donations:

Please contact Jessica, MVAPTC President, at to volunteer, or for any questions or concerns.

Zoom Links and Contacting Teachers

Use this link or click the logo to the left to access a full list of Virtual Academy teachers with their Zoom links and Outlook email addresses. If you have general questions, or you need a live human to assist you, please call us at 240-740-6060 during school hours.
MCPS Calendar Central

The MCPS website features "Calendar Central," where you can find information on holidays, early release days, and other special events throughout the school year.

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SSL Updates & Opportunities

Students need 75 student service learning (SSL) hours to graduate from Maryland public schools. Every month, Dr. Simarjeet Sandhu, the Virtual Academy SSL Coordinator, provides a listing of SSL opportunities that are virtual and in-person. Click on the link and get your child involved in these fun and rewarding service opportunities.


Latino Student Fund Tutoring

Four Seasons World Dance Auditions

Arise & Flourish:

Students will need to visit the Montgomery County Volunteer Center ( and in the red box “Find a Volunteer Opportunity”, type in Arise and Flourish. Students will find the volunteer opportunity for the cycle of addiction video review project. This SSL opportunity has been approved by the MCPS SSL department. Please let the students know NOT to use their MCPS email address as we will not be able to respond to them.

Once students respond for the volunteer opportunity on the site, we will send the student/parent permission slip and detailed volunteer information. Please make sure the students do NOT use their MCPS email address as we will not be able to respond to them. Students will watch two video presentations provided by our organization. One video is our speakers who are people in recovery who share their personal experience. The second video is the presentation on the cycle of addiction which has information on how addiction happens.

Students have the ability to earn the following for the quality completion of this project:

  1. Earn 1 SSL hour for watching one speaker video and the video for the cycle of addiction and completing one paper or artwork or;
  2. Earn up to 4 SSL hours for watching up to 4 speaker videos along with the one video for the cycle of addiction and completing 4 papers or 4 artworks.

Students can watch anywhere from 1-4 speaker videos and the video for the cycle of addiction and completing one paper or artwork for EACH speaker video watched.

Project Linus

Project Linus is a national organization with chapters across the country ( Their Montgomery County Maryland chapter works with partner organizations like Holy Cross Hospital, Children's Hospital, A Wider Circle, and the Montgomery County Department of Social Services, to distribute blankets to children who are in the hospital, homeless, in foster care, in shelters, and in other situations where just a small comfort can make a major difference. All these blankets are made by volunteers. See our previous newsletters (linked below) for more information.

Check Out Our VA SSL Website

You can now access many important resources for Student Service Learning (SSL) at our new website: ​​

Here you'll find...

  • Contact information for our SSL Coordinator (Dr. Simarjeet Sandhu) and our counseling team
  • An introductory video about SLL hours and how to complete them
  • The official submission form for reporting hours
  • Timely updates on service opportunities within and outside of the Virtual Academy
  • and more!

How to Check SSL Hours in ParentVUE

  • Navigate to
  • Select "I am a parent" or "I am a student."
  • Enter your User Name and Password, then click "Login."
  • Click "Course History" from the left-hand navigation.
  • The Course History page shows the student's graduation progress, test requirements, and SLL hours earned. (Students need 75 hours for graduation.)
  • Toggle on "Detail" to see full Service Learning details.

Useful SSL Resource

You can also stay up to date with SSL reminders, dates, and deadlines using this resource, and. contact Dr. Sandhu with any questions!

Need to Reach a Counselor?

Virtual Academy students in grades 6-12 who need to speak with a counselor can visit the open Counseling Zoom session every weekday using this link!

Office hours are:

  • Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 8:00 - 11:00 a.m.
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:35 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Students and families can also reach out to their counselor using this resource or consulting the list below (alphabetical by last name). Please note that during these first few weeks of the year, all counselors are inundated with schedule requests and questions -- thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to serve the needs of our 1,800 students and families! (Click the image of the list below for a web browser version, for easier viewing.)

Please use this link to access important information about connecting with school counselors.

Apply Online Now for Free and Reduced-Price Meals Benefits

Families of students who may qualify for free or reduced-price meals can now apply for assistance for school meals. Eligibility is based on family size and gross income. Students in Maryland who qualify for reduced-price meals will receive free breakfast and lunch meals.
Apply here. Learn more about the program.

Attendance Questions and Absence Notes

If you have any questions about your child's attendance, or if you need to report an excused absence, please contact our Attendance Secretary, Ms. Hikeyya Falden:

Activating and Utilizing ParentVUE

Activate Your ParentVue Account

This important tool will provide near real-time access to information on assignments and scores, attendance, class schedules, transcripts, graduation status, and more. You may access ParentVUE online, but for the best mobile experience, we encourage you to download the ParentVUE App from the Google Play Store or Apple Store, as this app will replace the current myMCPS mobile application.

Contact Your Child's Administrator or Counselor for your activation letter

ParentVue Directions

Log in to ParentVue

Free English as Second Language Classes for Parents

In collaboration with MCPS, the Literacy Council of Montgomery County (LCMC) is offering free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for MCPS parents. The classes will be held virtually and there will be options for all levels of English speakers. They are available to any MCPS parent for whom English is not their first language.

Please see this flyer for details:

Parents can complete this Interest form to receive a placement test.

Technology Support

If you are having technology issues, please submit an e-ticket by emailing your question or issue to or submit a ticket via the Community Tech Support portal. This account is monitored daily and you will receive email notifications throughout the process.

For helpful support guides and screencasts in English and Spanish, please visit

A support guide for the Community Tech Support portal is available here:

Helpful SSL Tip

When you submit your SSL forms, it’s really important that you complete all sections properly, so the form does not get returned to you. Check out this video from our SSL committee that demonstrates how to complete the SSL form in its entirety.

Thank you, Ms. Marks, for the helpful video!

Free Computers for MoCo Residents in Need

The Montgomery County government has received grant funding to provide a computer to residents who do not have one. All you need is a valid Montgomery County library card and a photo ID to register. Click here for more information: