When Julie Young stepped down from the helm of Florida Virtual School (FLVS) after 17 years, I wrote at the end of my piece reflecting on what her contributions had meant that I wouldn’t be surprised to see Julie “continue to play a leadership role in transforming schooling to put students at the center of their learning. There’s still too much work to be done for her to do otherwise.”

Fast forward and that prediction is materializing in a significant way, as last week Julie was named CEO of Global Personalized Academies (GPA) to lead the launch of the company. Several significant team members from her days at FLVS are also joining the effort.

Taking a page in certain respects from one of the bolder and more innovative higher education start-ups in the United States—the Minerva Project, which is now the most selective college in the country—GPA is offering international students the opportunity to earn a dual diploma from their native country in addition to one from a U.S. accredited high school through virtual learning. The program is starting with a focus on Asia and will expand to Latin America soon after and is creating opportunities for an exchange program where students and teachers can learn and teach both in the United States as well as in the variety of countries from which its students hail.

With families in many of these countries desperate for a U.S.-based education, the opportunity Julie and the GPA team is tapping into is a significant one.

Unsurprisingly for those who have followed Julie’s career, GPA will offer a student-centered educational program that personalizes for students through the use adaptive and customized solutions—some of which GPA will develop and some of which will be provided through a variety of partners. Leveraging partnerships with a range of innovative providers was a hallmark of Julie’s career at FLVS. And, just as at FLVS, students will be able to move at their own pace and learn from anywhere at any time. The school is also developing opportunities for leadership and entrepreneurial learning experiences and will provide services in college counseling, career exploration, and English as a Second Language.

What’s interesting is that when GPA says students can learn anywhere, they also mean in school, as they offer a range of school-based blended-learning solutions for schools themselves in the countries in which they serve students. GPA’s learning portfolio will consist of integrated media, blended and online curriculum, instruction, and assessments for nearly 200 courses for K–12 schools. And it is prepared to serve the classic areas of nonconsumption within schools, as it has more than 200 teachers working with GPA and is offering credit-recovery solutions, Advanced Placement courses, and courses and teachers for Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, French, Japanese, Latin, Russian, German, and Hindi.

Nearly 20 years after Julie Young first wrote the word “student” at the center of a piece of paper and asked a series of questions of the team gathered around her to launch FLVS, she’s doing it again. In 2015, what could school look like if the student was at the center? If GPA doesn’t have to follow the rules that already exist for schools, what could they be?

Technology has improved dramatically in the last two decades. The opportunities to create a global school that pushes the bounds of what education can look like for each student worldwide is more exciting—and within our grasp—than ever before.

As Julie said in the press release announcing her new position, “With the latest technology and teaching practices, we will deliver learning experiences designed to keep students at the center, where they can thrive and reach their full potential.”


  • Michael B. Horn
    Michael B. Horn

    Michael B. Horn is Co-Founder, Distinguished Fellow, and Chairman at the Christensen Institute.