Monthly Archives: August 2016

GWUOHS Parent Newsletter August 2016

GWUOHS Welcomes a New Head of School

Dear GWUOHS community,

As we look ahead to another wonderful school year I am reminded of the continual success and significant achievements of our students, staff, and overall school program.  Over the last five plus years the GWUOHS has grown in ways that continue to support student excellence and a positive school culture.  We continue to do so this year, adding another fantastic talent to our team, GWUOHS’ new Head of School, Mrs. Alison Mistretta.

Mrs. Mistretta comes to us with a wealth of knowledge and experience.  Her career in education began almost 15 years ago.  She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary English/Communications Education from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA.  Throughout Mrs. Mistretta’s educational career, she has taught in the brick-and-mortar, college, and online classrooms.  Mrs. Mistretta had the honor of being selected as a finalist for Beginning Teacher of the Year in Onslow County, North Carolina; honored twice in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers; and nominated three times to National Honor Roll’s Outstanding American Teachers.

Mrs. Mistretta has been a part of K12 since 2009, beginning as a High-School English teacher for K12 International Academy and the K12 Educators Group.  She moved into an instructional leadership position with K12 International Academy, which she has served for the past six years.   During this time, she demonstrated commitment to ensuring quality education for all students, increasing the amount of teacher/student synchronous contact time by nearly 50%, and increasing the overall instructional effectiveness of her teachers nearly 10% over the past year.  Additionally, she was responsible for a number of innovative instructional practices, always with a focus on improving student achievement.  Through high expectations, clear goals, and a focus on collaboration, Mrs. Mistretta also was able to establish meaningful partnerships with all stakeholders – students, families, and staff – creating a favorable learning environment for all.

Her background and achievements speak to the community values we hold as a school.  Values that cultivate hard work, integrity, appreciation of diversity, love of learning, compassion, and high personal expectations.  Her works align with the mission of GWUOHS making us poised to have another excellent year!

Mrs. Mistretta believes, “at the end of every day, students’ personal and academic success is my utmost goal.  This includes developing and maintaining a student-centered learning environment to ensure every student is reaching his/her greatest potential.  I believe in facilitating each student’s social and intellectual growth by creating an atmosphere of mutual respect, open communications, and the desire to make an impact on every student.  There is no greater honor than to be a part of shaping our future generations’ paths”.

Please join me in welcoming Mrs. Mistretta to the GWUOHS community.

Mrs. Maria Coyle

Associate Head of School

A Message From Our Head of School

I am honored and excited to A.Mistrettabe a part of the George Washington University Online High School! All new changes bring fresh beginnings, exciting promises, and innovative opportunities. I cannot wait to explore all of those possibilities together. It is a privilege to be a part of such a vibrant learning community with so much potential. I am very much looking forward to meeting and collaborating with all of the GWUOHS families and students. I have the utmost confidence that together we will do great things.

Alison Mistretta, M.Ed.

Head of School

The Advisor Role
Maria Coyle, Associate Head of School

maria_coyle_photo_small_2Dear GWUOHS community,

Welcome to the 16-17 school year!  We wanted to take a moment to share with you more about our fantastic GWUOHS advising program.  Each of our GWUOHS teaching staff serves as advisor to a wonderful group of students.  They work to ensure that students both learn the mission of our school, “to educate and inspire academically talented and motivated students who seek membership in a school community that values and cultivates hard work, integrity, appreciation of diversity, love of learning, compassion, and high personal expectations.  Through intensive, interactive online collaboration, the GWUOHS experience prepares students to contribute significantly, responsibly, and respectfully in a global society” and incorporate those community values in their work.

Each weekly advising session focuses on your needs as a student and challenges your learning potential.  The meetings build upon one another to ensure you are supported not only in your academic work but also in other areas that may be important to you.  One way this occurs is by setting three goals each year with your advisor, an academic goal, social goal, and an emotional goal.  Together, you will create the goals and keep track of them throughout the school year.  Now is a great time to begin thinking about what goals you would like to work on this year.

Tips for a successful year:

  1. Complete the ORN course as soon as possible. It is a comprehensive class on using our online school.  Invite your learning coach to join in and have fun learning more about the online middle or high school.
  2. Set-up your weekly meeting with your advisor. They are a fantastic resource, support, and advocate for you! Reach out to them when you need help.
  3. Get to know your wonderful, GWUOHS teachers! Introduce yourself, attend class connects, and invite them to connect with you on Skype. Reach out to them when you need help.
  4. Use a calendar/planner. Fill them in the first day of school with your classes (live and offline), study halls, homework time, any extra-curriculars you are involved, and some breaks. Make sure you are logging in everyday and your planner matches this, i.e. you should have everyday (Monday-Friday) filled in.
  5. Have a designated workspace just for schoolwork.
  6. Check your email and homeroom daily. You will receive communication from your teachers, advisor, college counselor, and the school community about upcoming events.
  7. Join us for our assemblies. They are a fun space for us all to get to know one another.

Welcome to a wonderful new school year!

College Counseling Corner

Lisa Bell, College Counselor

I am looking forward to working with all the GWUOHS students this year through the required Journeys class. We have had great success with college acceptances and scholarships at GWUOHS, and most of that success is attributable to the quality of our students, but we also know that a solid college planning program is essential also. That is where I come in! We have built strong relationships with a number of universities and their admissions representatives, and we continue to make more of those connections to help our students achieve their goals. I’m so excited to see college acceptances this year!

Be on the lookout for Virtual Admissions Presentations! Last semester we had several schools participate where an Admissions officer presented to our Students. Some of the schools were: Johns Hopkins University, Cornell University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Boston University.

Additionally, we have the Freshman, Junior, and Senior Parent Nights coming up soon. Be on the lookout for further information.

Best of luck for a successful fall semester!


News and Announcements

Congrats to Our Graduates of 2016!

On Sunday, June 26th, GWUOHS graduated 28 seniors at the Marvin Center on The George Washington University’s Foggy Bottom campus. Our seniors received a total of over $2.9 million in scholarships, and gained acceptance to many highly competitive schools, including Johns Hopkins University, Penn State, Ohio State, UCLA, and The George Washington University. A complete list of schools to which our students have been accepted can be found here. We couldn’t be more impressed by our group of graduates and their accomplishments, and wish them the best of luck in their post-secondary education plans!

Reflections on Graduation Spring 2016
Cassi Brownlow

Attending graduation this past Spring in Washington, D.C. not only further imprinted upon me the grandness of our connection to The George Washington University, but created within me a deep sense of pride for the graduating class of 2016. Some of these graduating students I had in English all four years of their high school career, many I had in class at least once, and some were my advisees. Meeting a student and their family for the first time in four years is an experience one rarely has, but it is as authentic and
meaningful as working with that student every day in a face-to-face situation. These graduates were poised, respectful, mature, and ready for the next chapter of their lives. Everyone here at GWUOHS cheers their past successes and champions their future opportunities!


Dual Enrollment with GWU
Maria Coyle

As you are planning your schedule for the upcoming senior year, a reminder that GWUOHS offers Dual Enrollment with GWU.  This is done through the GWU Office of non-degree students.  Specifically, for this Fall we are sharing with you information on enrollment in the course Introduction to Sociology.

Introduction to Sociology is a hybrid course and does require both online and in person availability on the GWU Foggy Bottom campus. The course offers a “broad overview of sociological imagination as a way of understanding social issues and personal experience; sociology’s place among the social sciences; basic elements of sociological perspectives”.

More information may be found at  If you are interested please speak with your advisor and/or Mrs. Coyle.

Happy 16-17 school year,

Mrs. Coyle

Learn2Serve to Washington, DC
Angela Anderson

GWUOHS LEARN2SERVE heads to DC!Dr.Anderson

The GWUOHS LEARN2SERVE Club encourages students to serve in both their local communities and together as a student body.  Several of our students just returned from our 1st Annual Learn2Serve trip. GWUOHS students spent August 21st & 22nd in DC working with two local non-profit groups.




On Sunday, students met in the morning and spent time touring several museums before doing a “gleaning shift” at Bread for the City NW Food Pantry on Sunday afternoon. The Food Pantry needs weekly assistance separating items donated by local Farmers. Bread for the City is responsible for feeding 10,000 families on a monthly basis. Our students did an awesome job separating and bagging produce. They also had the opportunity to learn about the services offered by Bread for the City.   After our time with Bread for the City, we debriefed about our service over dinner and spent the evening on the National Mall touring monuments both on foot and by bike.




Picture3On Monday morning, students met for breakfast and then journeyed to Barnard Elementary School in Northwest DC. We were able to assist KidPower DC, agreat non-profit organization serving in many DC public schools. Students spent the morning weeding raised garden beds to prepare a community garden for Barnard Elementary School students. It was amazing to see how the garden changed with two hours of hard work by GWUOHS students!

Our trip to Washington, DC was a great success! Students forged relationships with each other and those that they served alongside. It was an excellent experience and one we recommend highly for anyone interested in serving with us next year!



2016-17 School Calendar

Be sure to bookmark this year’s school calendar, linked above. The calendar provides our complete schedule for the year, along with holidays, dates on which our terms end and begin, exam dates, and upcoming events. Coming up in October, we will host a series of parent and student nights for Freshmen (October 12th), Juniors (October 13th), and Seniors (October 11th). More information about these events will be shared in an upcoming newsletter. Please join us!

GWUOHS Welcome Back Assembly
Tuesday, September 6th, 2pm EST

Hello students and families! Please mark your calendars for Tuesday, September 6th at 2pm EST for our annual ‘Welcome Back’ All-School Assembly. Each year we hold an assembly to kick off the school year right! Students and Learning Coaches are encouraged to attend as we will introduce our school’s administration, the teaching faculty, GWUOHS clubs, and new school policies.

We look forward to seeing each of you there!

August 2016 Student Spotlights

Alumni (Graduates)

Sophia Handel

Sophia’s parents, Rita and Larry, began doing their homework and talking to other parents. How is a student supposed to balance both school and the rigorous demands of being a student athlete? Sophia was committed to succeeding in school, without compromising her dreams. So, what was the solution?

After much research, they decided to enroll Sophia at GWUOHS, with the caveat that if things weren’t working out after a month, they would re-enroll at her previous school. They shared concerns about her ability to manage her own schedule and workload without the framework of traditional schooling. Sophia also wondered if she would receive as much support from her new teachers. As a student who strives for academic excellence, she frequently met with her teachers to get additional help, so she was concerned about losing that connection.

After a couple weeks, Sophia found her rhythm and her worries were put to rest. She found her teachers to be extremely supportive, and Sophia’s parents were pleased with her ability to take responsibility for her schoolwork and connect with her teachers. Rita believes this is preparing Sophia well for the college learning environment.

Full article: 

Sarah Hesterman


2016 George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS) graduate Sarah Hesterman is eager to make an impact. She will attend her second United Nations’ Youth Assembly this week at the UN Headquarters in New York.

As a child of two military parents, Sarah is used to moving around. In 2013, Sarah and her family moved to Qatar. There, Sarah attended school and traveled to different countries including Jordan, Tanzania, and India during her breaks.

“I met girls my age that were in such terrible situations,” Sarah said. “No matter where you are, you can see girls being marginalized and ostracized.”

Full article:

Has your student recently accomplished or participated in something particularly noteworthy? We’d like to know! Feel free to send information and/or pictures to for possible inclusion in a future newsletter.

Clubs and Activities


Angela Anderson

The GWUOHS Learn2Serve Club is dedicated to organizing and participating in service learning projects in local communities. These projects provide a great opportunity for students to provide help to those in need, volunteer to improve the community, as well as meet other students who are also passionate about service work.

If you are interested in having your student serve in the future or join the LEARN2SERVE club, please contact Dr. Anderson at


GW Medical Team
Whitney Keaton

Is your student interested in a medical career?  Do they want to be a doctor, veterinarian, do medical research, or anything else in the medical field?  If so…..


This is a school club that is open to anyone.  We meet twice a month and do group projects, watch videos, have guest speakers, and much more!  You will be notified via email of our first meeting and how to join, but if you have any questions please contact Mrs. Keaton and

l.humphrey_0 (1)

National Honor Society/National Junior Honor Society
Lucas Humphrey

As we gear up for another school year, it is time once again to induct new members into the GWUOHS National Honor Society (NHS) chapter. Additionally, for the first time, GWUOHS is also seeking eligible members for our National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) chapter. If your student has a passion for volunteer work, service learning, making a difference in their community and beyond, and meets the academic criteria (a junior or senior with a 3.33 GPA or above, or a middle school student with an 85% average for NJHS), we would love to have them as a member!

Be on the lookout for your eligible student to receive an NHS/NJHS application packet during the month of September. If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Humphrey at


The student news site of George Washington University Online High School. Explore our student-run newspaper and see what’s happening in our vibrant school community.

The mission of The George Washington University Online High School is to educate and inspire academically talented and motivated students who seek membership in a school community that values and cultivates hard work, integrity, appreciation of diversity, love of learning, compassion, and high personal expectations. Through intensive, interactive online collaboration, the GWUOHS experience prepares students to contribute significantly, responsibly, and respectfully in a global society.

To contact someone directly, please feel free to visit