‘Virtual School’ principal appreciates SWU’s authentic approach

05.13.14 | Education, Columbia, Adult Evening programs

‘Virtual School’ principal appreciates SWU’s authentic approach

    Alexandria Gillcrese of Lexington, a recent Southern Wesleyan University graduate, found her degree program beneficial to her professional development.

    Gillcrese is principal of Calvert Academy, an online public school considered as part of a charter school district. Calvert, according to Gillcrese, is a school of choice for students, most of whom are former homeschool students from across South Carolina.

    Being principal at a virtual school is different from “brick and mortar” schools – no bus duty or morning duty, for one thing. However, the job is not without challenges.

    The challenges for Gillcrese might be different from those encountered by fellow principals – tracking students online and ensuring teachers are consistent in their attention to their students. There is still face-to-face interaction between Gillcrese and her colleagues through scheduled professional development opportunities. Also, students get to interact with each other at monthly “meet and greets” and during planned meetings at places that recently included the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston.

    Gillcrese earned her master of education in administration and supervision (MEDAS) degree from Southern Wesleyan’s Columbia learning center in December 2013. She learned about Southern Wesleyan from her pastor’s wife, who earned a degree there. Hearing about how the professors open class with prayer and don’t “shy away” from spiritual matters, Gillcrese was convinced to enroll. Once she began her studies, Gillcrese experienced faculty members who were strong in their faith, as well as their subject matter – especially as it relates to “real world” situations.

    “The professors were all absolutely wonderful. Once you met with your professor, you found they took that information and turned it into authentic learning,” Gillcrese said. She also appreciated how her classes met one day per week and the structured environment she found.

    In addition to her work at Calvert Academy, Gillcrese is an active member of New Life Outreach Ministry, where she enjoys working with children. Her husband Nicholas, who recently started in Southern Wesleyan’s MEDAS program, teaches third-grade at Oak Point Elementary School in Columbia.

    Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused learning community devoted to transforming lives by challenging students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. For details about degree programs, go online to