Posted On: 2017-05-02 01:03 PM
By Kelly Doscher, for Edkey Inc.
Receiving a highly-personalized higher education would be academic nirvana for most students. But for a lucky few Arizona kids, college learning in high school is a reality, not a pipe dream. AZDL is fulfilling the need for the schools that address the unique strengths of each child much like a higher education institution would - as well as those areas of knowledge upon which students can improve. From a student who discovered a love for the language of computer programming to an amateur pilot who received his training during senior year of high school, the coeds who populate AZDL are just as extraordinary as the education they receive.
A tuition-free, AdvancED accredited school, AZDL is the state's oldest online charter school, whose end goal is for each student to achieve academic independence earlier, allowing them to focus on their career aspirations sooner. Taking this directive into account, AZDL has made college-level education in high school one significant goal of its programs, propelling students further and faster than public schools in the same district.
For AZDL, teachers prime their students for educational success with the help of the Madeline Hunter Model of Mastery Learning. Several core principles of this learning model are hard at work in AZDL, namely the careful construction of lesson plans and the presentation of learning goals so students can understand what each lesson ladders towards in their schooling.
AZDL teachers don't rely on cookie cutter courses. They create their own. "We're always asking ourselves, ‘How are we meeting the individual kids' needs?'" explained Cindy Chleborad, Principal of AZDL. This question defines the course preparations that occur at the school. Lessons are uniquely tailored to individual students' needs based off their performance and proficiency. Younger students learn in a more traditional homeschool environment, whereas the teenage students' lessons are all online.
To further facilitate learning, teachers are readily available to support their students with any questions or challenges they may face. Parents have access to lessons and online portals through which they can obtain necessary guidance to support their kids' education. Whether via email, phone, online group lessons, or chat forum, response time is swift and student-centric.
In order to provide additional help to students, a group of advisors monitors attendance and acts as liaisons between the school and its families. This two-tiered approach to managing students' achievements, and occasional setbacks, helps foster the forward motion of AZDL students.
Taking time for individual interests
One of AZDL's graduating seniors recently received his pilot's license and another who's built an app with a profit of over $50,000 -- and unique stories like this abound at the school thanks to a flexible schedule. The key to such student success stories is time management. A typical public school day in Mesa, AZ, is Monday through Friday, 6:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Grades 7-12 students have far less time commitment at AZDL than they would at a standard brick-and-mortar school. Online lessons are in the mornings, some only three days a week, which allows kids to get on with their homework, speak with their teachers and pursue their own interests.
"We want our kiddos to become their own person," Chleborad said. AZDL arranges for lessons to be as inclusive as possible for those students who may be on the slower end of the competency scale while in the case of AZDL, this means more one-on-one tutoring time, and more flexible learning time.
Giving classes the college try -- early
While juniors and seniors across the country daydream of taking college courses that will pave the way to a bright career, students at AZDL are actually enrolling in such courses. Dual registration for high school and college credits allows for academic creativity and reduced costs, making the program cost-effective and future-focused.
AZDL offers college credit courses, which are included in the cost for junior and senior year of enrollment. Families effectively don't have to pay for the first two years of college and students can earn their associate's degree, or degrees, while completing their final years of primary school.
Qualifying for the program is relatively simple. As long as students can prove they're in good standing by providing excellent attendance records and demonstrating impressive academic performance, AZDL students may be approved to concurrently seek college credits while satisfying their required high school courses.
Some of the college-level courses are online, but many of them are offered at junior colleges, like Rio Salado College, where Lidia, a graduating high school senior, will also be completing her Associate's Degree in Computer Science this May. "Going to the college(s) made me more independent and hard-working ... [which] got me used to how things are in the real world." Furthermore, Lidia shared that the targeted topics of each class encourage a sort of major-directed education that one might find in college. "Professors are more to the point. [We] don't learn about trivial things," Lidia revealed. Such specific coursework allows Lidia and her fellow coeds to take control of their education and direct it towards their interests instead of devoting time to subjects they'll rarely use later in life.
The opportunity for Juniors and Seniors to attend on-campus college courses gives students life experience that can't be taught in a high school classroom or online. Students are responsible for managing their time and class choice, which instills a sense of independence and boosts their confidence in real-world situations.
If you think your kids could benefit from this distance learning program, contact Sequoia Choice – Arizona Distance Learning for more information on paving the way for a bright and productive future.
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