ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Up until last year, people could come to the Shops at Stonefield to enjoy the area or catch a movie, and end their night dining at Travinia. Now, more than a year after the restaurant closed, you’ll find something very different inside: a virtual learning center.
“We just felt like this was a perfect space for kids to come, be able to be socially distant, be able to get their work done with the internet that they need to get the help that they need,” Direct Learning Solutions Executive Director Robin Martin-Lawson said.
Trading out wine, cheese, and pasta for laptops, students, and tutors. Socially distant, and following CDC guidelines. Not just giving students a place to learn, but extra help, too.
“We’re keeping our employee student ratio to 10 to one,” Direct Learning Solutions CEO Samuel Anderson said. "That enables our employee to really focus on each individual student and help them where they where they need that assistance.”
The owners of the location say that while they had offers on the space to start the year, the pandemic dried up much of the interest. Now, they’re using one problem caused by the pandemic to solve another.
“For this school year, this is just absolutely perfect for us to do,” Property Manager Tori Tremaglio explained. "These students can also have access outside as well, and they have access to the green right across if they want to get out there and move around. They can use that space.”
Direct Learning Solutions has also partnered with a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit to allow for community members and local companies to donate. Those donations are helping to sponsor students that may not be able to afford the service.
“For those who fall under that certain income bracket, their children are not going to be left behind because they’re community leaders that are now stepping up, putting their dollars to good use, and being able to help our children continue on with their education,” Anderson said.
Direct Learning Solutions says this will not be their only virtual learning center location. In fact, they’re already looking at other spots both in Charlottesville – and in other parts of Albemarle County and beyond – where internet connection is an stumbling block.