Online school to open | VailDaily.com

Online school to open

Scott N. Miller

One size rarely fits all.

With that in mind, Dick Lindow of Gypsum is launching a local chapter of CompuHigh, an online high school. The school is one of several catering to the home-school audience. But Lindow sees his venture, CompuHigh Colorado, as part of a bigger project.

After serving as the “technology coach” at Eagle Valley High School for the past couple of years, Lindow has seen first hand how the classes that serve most students don’t suit everyone. Members of his student crew at the school could troubleshoot or repair just about any computer problem thrown at them.

“They didn’t learn how to do that from anyone. They’re self-taught,” Lindow said.

Despite those undeniable gifts, though, many members of Lindow’s tech crew struggled with other elements of high school life. A program such as CompuHigh could be a way for many of those students to take classes more quickly, putting them in college sooner.

Other youngsters, like those on the ski-racing trail, also need a way to continue taking classes while they’re following their athletic dreams. Those kids can take classes from home, from hotels, from virtually anywhere, completing their education while they’re on the road.

With a sort of CompuHigh franchise for the Western Slope, Lindow is aiming at those and other kids across the region, as well as a fairly large contingent of home-schooled students in Mesa County.

Lindow’s main market, though, is “at risk” kids, kids for whom regular high school simply doesn’t work.

“I know some of those kids,” Lindow said. “Some of them are literally out walking the street.”

Alternatives

And when it comes to reaching kids, the more alternatives the better, said another “alternative” educator in the valley.

For several years, the Learning Camp has helped elementary and middle school-aged students with “learning differences.” Camp founder and director Anne Cathcart said her summer camp focuses on intensive contact between teachers and students rather than online programs. Still, she said, learning on-line can work well, depending on the program and, of course, the kid.

“Not all children fit into a typical academic setting,” Cathcart said. “When we offer choices, it makes such a difference to those kids.”

The downside to online learning and home schooling is that kids can lose out on the socialization that’s also a big part of school.

That’s why Lindow has plans to use the parish hall of First Lutheran Church in Gypsum as a center for local CompuHigh students.

“We want a site that’s a haven, a safe, comfortable environment for kids to work in,” Lindow said. That environment will welcome virtually anyone who truly wants to continue his or her education, from those who have been expelled from regular school to those facing any number of personal problems.

While on-line learning at a church sounds reminiscent of Red Canyon High School, the Eagle County School District’s “alternative” high school, Lindow said it’s not his intent to compete.

There’s a waiting list for Red Canyon, Lindow said, and he sees CompuHigh as a way to help the kids who can’t get into that facility.

But there’s a catch.

While Lindow said he has a good relationship with district officials, with a June deadline for a grant application looming and no official link with the school district, he ultimately registered CompuHigh Colorado as a private school.

While Lindow said he’s seeking other grants, CompuHigh Colorado will have to charge tuition to students. That could change, depending on how things develop.

The bottom line, though, is that CompuHigh Colorado is going to happen. “I felt strongly enough to start this with or without the district’s help,” Lindow said.

Whether Lindow’s experiment works, though, ultimately depends on the kids CompuHigh can attract.

– CompuHigh, based in West Virginia, is the online arm of the Clonlara School private school of Ann Arbor, Mich.

– The school was founded in 1994

– Students take classes in language arts, math, social studies and traditional subjects, as well as Spanish, Hebrew and other specialty courses.

– The school is recognized by the National Private Schools Accreditation Alliance

– Graduates have gone on to colleges ranging from Fort Lewis in Durango to Yale

A meeting about the CompuHigh program is set for Thursday, July 22, at the fellowship hall at First Lutheran Church in Gypsum. For more information, call (970) 524-9768.