Episode 174: Steve Kossakoski, Founder of the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School

Guest Bio: 

Stephen Kossakoski is an experienced teacher, administrator, and educational technology leader.

Dr. Kossakoski is currently the CEO of the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School, New Hampshire’s first statewide online virtual public school with the goal of providing students with anytime anywhere access to a rigorous, steve_vlacs300personalized education. Under his leadership the school has received numerous awards and quickly grown to become one of the largest statewide virtual schools in the country. During his career, Dr. Kossakoski has led technology, curriculum, and professional development efforts in two New Hampshire school districts, directed a regional professional development center, co-founded two charter schools, worked as an independent consultant, and served as adjunct faculty at the University of New Hampshire. He began his career as a teacher and coach at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston, NH.

Dr. Kossakoski has received many awards and accolades for his work in the education realm, including the 1998 New Hampshire Excellence in Education Award and the 1997 Technology Leadership Award from the New Hampshire Society for Technology in Education. He holds a Ph.D. and a M.Ed. from the University of New Hampshire and a B.S.Ed. from Keene State College.

For the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Dr. Kossakoski serves on the Board’s Grants Policy & Program Committee and the Organizational Measurement Committee.

(source: http://www.nmefoundation.org/about-us/board-of-directors/stephen-kossakoski)

Some Questions We Ask:

  • When he hears the word successful, who’s the first person that comes to mind and why?
  • What were some of the inflection points in his life that have brought him to where he is?
  • Does he have one or two books that have most impacted him, and why?

Horace’s Compromise: The Dilemma of the American High School by Theodore R. Sizer

The Quality School by M.D. Glasser William

Doc: The Story of Dennis Littky and His Fight for a Better School by Susan Kammeraad-Campbell

  • If he could have dinner with one person he admires, past or present, who would it be and why?

What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

  • What gave Steve the vision to leave his classroom job and create VLACS?
  • The pros and cons of doing things in the traditional way

“We put the student in charge of determining when, where, and how they learn.”

  • Discussing the shift to classrooms designed to truly benefit students and parents.
  • Trying to overcome the restrictions placed on schools when it comes to virtual learning and making changes.

“The relationship between the instructor, student, and parent is paramount.”

  • How do you create deep relationships in a virtual world?

“The first 20-30 days is when you first establish that relationship.”

  • Steve talks about the student experience at VLACS
  • Sharing student success stories


Virtual Learning Academy Charter School: http://vlacs.org

Great Bay Charter School: http://www.gbecs.org/