EAGLE COUNTY — For Nora Tellez, last spring’s commencement walk was the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
When Tellez received her diploma, she became the first World Academy graduate, the local school district’s online school. She earned a scholarship and is headed toward a brighter future.
World Academy is an online/home school for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade. It’s a full-fledged curriculum that can be used by parents who want to do traditional home schooling, kids who are traveling or kids who can’t go to school because they’re sick or injured — any reason a kid can’t or doesn’t want to be in a school building, said Wade Hill, World Academy program director and principal of Red Canyon High School and New America School.
An enlarging world
World Academy was what we’ll call “intimate” when Hill started it two years ago — six students. They had 15 last year and have enrolled 25 so far this year.
“It’s always been an option. We’re trying to fill an education need for this group of students,” Hill said.
World Academy does the up-front testing, orders the material and provides a local teacher to work with each student, Hill said. That creates the flexibility many students need, Hill said. Tellez, for example, has a child and needed that flexibility.
Then there’s parents who want to be part of designing their kids’ curriculum.
“Through World Academy we have found a happy balance that allows our boys to receive a quality education, but still gives our family the flexibility to pursue travel and other experiential education opportunities,” said Brad and Rachael Cohen. “This dynamic style of learning allows us to support our community by keeping student funds within the district while still being able to challenge our kids and let them learn at their own pace.”
Speaking of pace, it’s a great way to accelerate kids, Hill said.
If your kid is advanced in math, or your sixth grader is accelerated in reading, they can design an individual program for that subject or an entire curriculum, Hill said.
For the older kids, like high school seniors, they blend their program with the local high schools and Colorado Mountain College. It’s a great asset for the right situation, but it’s not designed to replace classroom teachers, Hill said.
“There’s too much value to a good teacher in front of a class and the richness of that experience. It’s a great addition to that,” Hill said.
World Academy students work with local teachers, most from Hill’s building, instead of someone from another part of the country or world. World Academy students are part of Eagle County schools. Kids who want to compete in sports or other activities can do that in their local school, Hill said.
The curriculum was created by www.k12.com for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. The website www.odysseyware.com handles the curriculum for the older kids.
“When students are engaged, they will take charge of their education,” said Kevin Youngblood, vice chairman and president of www.odysseyware.com.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.