New Lakota Central as Personalized as It Comes
Personalized learning, in its truest form, is best modeled at Lakota Central. Technically the district’s newest high school, it is officially recognized as a virtual school by the Ohio Department of Education. In reality, it merges the concepts and resources of three former Lakota programs - the Academy, the Virtual Learning Option (VLO) and the work study experience formerly known as ACCESS - all under one roof.
The school’s flexible, non-traditional format means that every one of Lakota Central’s current 225 students can benefit from a smaller school environment. It also means that they can build their own unique schedule to meet their personal needs. While about a quarter of students attend school entirely online, the majority have chosen some combination of virtual and in-person instruction delivered either in the old Academy space or a small designated wing at West Freshman.
Regardless of the format, the content is both designed and taught by Lakota teachers using a combination of Central’s seven full-time teachers, some teachers they share with the main campuses (mostly for electives) and even model online lessons used in some capacity for the same courses offered at East and West. Most courses use the flipped classroom model, a personalized learning strategy through which new material is delivered virtually and then practiced in person with the teacher.
Students also only take three or four courses at once (in a more compressed period of time), helping them overcome executive functioning challenges that are exacerbated in a traditional seven-bell day.
“They really get to know their classmates and teachers and build stronger relationships,” said Lakota Central Principal Kate Joseph. “What I love about this place is that kids are really seen. They are celebrated. We walk life with them in a way that you can’t when there are almost 2,000 kids.”
The personal situations requiring a more flexible format for school range dramatically from students who need to be home to help care for a family member to those who need to work or are pursuing a passion that requires a significant time commitment. Joseph says the model also lends itself to true internship experiences for students. She looks forward to more business partnerships that connect Central students with potential career pathways, as opposed to short-term jobs.
“The whole idea and long-term vision for this is how can we rethink the traditional model we all know as high school?” said Central’s assistant principal, Eric Bauman. “How can we make it work for kids in a way that kids never had the ability to imagine?”
Bauman said he is proud of the bridges Central has built with leadership at East’s and West’s campuses already. He looks forward to collaborating more to identify good candidates and “make high school work for all kids.” So far, he’s witnessed a lot of success stories to this end.
“Finding a way to connect with students so that they like school is a very rewarding outcome,” Bauman said.
- Personalized Learning