Yesterday we visited Goshen Online Academy (GOA), one of the alternative education options available to GHS and GMS students. The academy is located in the Boys and Girls Club, in their Academic Wing. The wing is used after school by Boys and Girls Club members, most of whom are also Goshen Community Schools’ students. In the Academic Wing, there are plenty of places for GOA students to sit and study, read, or work on their (1:1) laptops.
According to Josh Duell, the GOA teacher, GHS and GMS students have earned about 142 class credits so far this year, up considerably from last year. The students can attend GOA during one of two sessions, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. or 1:00-4:00 p.m. Many of the students are dual enrollment students, meaning they attend GHS or GMS half of the day and GOA the other half of the day. Mr. Duell stated that while the enrollment in GOA is somewhat fluid, they are currently serving between 60-70 students. He estimated that by the end of the semester the average credits earned per student would be about 4. However, there is one student who has already earned 12 credits during this school year. Below, you can see the paper certificates, one per credit, lining the wall of the office area, showing just how many credits have been earned by students this year.
Mr. Duell explained that students come to GOA for many different reasons. For some students, being in a typical secondary classroom just simply does not work for them, or some students may have health issues that keep them from attending GMS or GHS. Student may also have anxiety and find that a classroom full of students can feel overwhelming to them. Or, some students may have behavioral issues that make it difficult for them to function in a typical classroom setting. Whatever the myriad of reasons may be, when students come to GOA they are welcomed and encouraged to earn the credits necessary to get their high school diploma.
While the students attend GOA during the school day, Mr. Duell stated that they can also work on their computers at home. “They can continue to do all of their work outside of GOA; the only thing they can’t do is take the tests, that they need to do here.”
Below, Rafael Chavez an Instructional Collaborator at GOA, works with a student to help figure out a technology/program issue so that the student can keep moving ahead with the curriculum.
Mr. Chavez (background)
Mr. Duell and Mr. Chavez reported that working with the students and their families is imperative to student success at GOA. According to Mr. Duell, “we may talk to parents up to several times a week. We call for attendance and tardy issues, but we call for many other reasons as well. It is essential to student success that we keep in regular contact with the parents or guardians.” In addition, Mr. Chavez is also available to make contact with families if they prefer to communicate in Spanish.
For most of the students who attend Goshen schools, a regular class schedule in a traditional classroom and school building works just fine. However, at GCS the staff is working hard to provide opportunities for every single student who enrolls in the district. And just as students learn differently and according to their own habits and needs, it makes sense that some students may need different settings to learn and grow. GCS is thankful for all of the staff members who assist every student in achieving their best potential, whether it is in a traditional setting or in one of the alternative schools. All students deserve a supportive environment with staff members who will guide them to their most fulfilled, productive futures!