More and more parents and students are choosing online high schools than ever before. For many students, the thought of returning to the COVID-era remote learning gives them a sense of dread.

“But true online learning is nothing like remote classes that schools attempted during the pandemic,” explains Shellie Hanes, superintendent of schools.  “Remote learning was challenging when teachers tried to recreate their classroom on Zoom calls. Kids were bored and distracted, and often turned off their cameras and microphones. This is totally different.”

We have offered online classes long before COVID and incorporate the same successful model as our in-person schools — personalized learning with a flexible schedule. Our students meet one-on-one with their teacher, tutors and counselor when it’s convenient for them.”

Hanes said that the number of students who want to learn fully online or a hybrid option of some online classes and some in person have more than doubled since the pandemic. The student population is varied, with some opting for online school due to anxiety or bullying at their previous school.

“For many, flexibility is better for students who need to work or take care of young siblings or their own baby,” Hanes said. “Some are in the juvenile justice system or drug rehab programs; others are entertainers or serious athletes who travel for their craft and need a flexible schedule.”

One student is a professional soccer player who is currently training in Barcelona. He checks in regularly with his teachers and is on track to graduate on time. Some students are in foster care or experience housing insecurity and lack the stability to attend school. Our school is free and provides lower income students with laptops and hotspots so they can continue their education.

Online learning doesn’t need to have a teacher lecturing to a Zoom full of students. Each of our students has an academic supervising teacher who is trained in the Edge Foundation’s executive function coaching model. They determine the child’s strengths and learning style and areas where they need extra help and frequently communicate progress with the parents. Course teachers in various subjects work directly with the students and free tutors are available when the student is in need.

“Our students are happy and progressing, and just as important, our teacher satisfaction is high,” Hanes said. “Teacher turnover is much lower than traditional schools and when we have a job opening, we get dozens of resumes.”

Written By:
Ann Abajian