Principal Rob Duncan, left, and student Alyssa Gregory in one of the school's flex spacesIn case I haven’t yet told you, happy new year! In Vancouver Public Schools, 2014 is off to a terrific start. Earlier this month, students began applying for our secondary magnet programs, including the new Lewis and Clark High School, which is the subject of this month’s podcast.
Last fall, Lewis and Clark became a place where staff and students are charting their own paths to success, to borrow the school’s motto. They blazed ahead with one-to-one technology and blended learning—a combination of online and face-to-face instruction, small group work, and flexibility of time and space.

To really understand some of the benefits of blended learning, ask sophomore Alyssa Gregory.

As an eighth grader, Alyssa had dabbled in online learning. But she missed interacting with people. She enrolled in a traditional high school for her freshman year, yet needed more support to be successful. So she investigated other options. Lewis and Clark sounded perfect.

The mix of online instruction through Edgenuity and face-to-face time with teachers and kids provides the support Alyssa needs. She says that she gets more one-on-one time, and teachers are available to help.

The blended learning model also gives students the freedom to set their own schedules. No bells. Alyssa enjoys being her own pacesetter. If she gets stuck, she knows that she can take extra time to learn the subject thoroughly.

Edgenuity’s email and calendar functions help Alyssa stay organized. The future filmmaker says that learning how to stick to a schedule will help her in college and the workforce.

And Principal Rob Duncan observes that students have increased ownership of their education since the school’s redesign. He says that there are times when learning is teacher-led and teacher-driven, and there are times when it’s student-centered and student-led. The Lewis and Clark staff sees the value in that model.

Other people have discovered the value, too. Recently Lewis and Clark was featured in an article on blended learning in District Administration magazine. And so far, attendance has increased 19 percent over last year. Students have shown that they want to be in school—a powerful endorsement of Lewis and Clark’s new direction.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. This quote speaks to Lewis and Clark’s transformation, but it has relevance for us all as we continue our work in Design II, Chapter 2.

“Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Take care,

Image: Steve signature