gmhTODAY 19 gmhToday April May 2018 - Page 110

Morgan Hill Individualized Learning Academy An Alternative Approach to Learning Written By Jordan Rosenfeld Brian Paulson, Instructor A fter Flex Academy, Morgan Hill’s only digital-interface, self-paced charter school closed abruptly in July of 2016, many parents scrambled to find alternative solu- tions that fit the needs of their children. Unfortunately these alternatives are few. In the midst of the void created by Flex’s absence, Superintendent Steve Betando sprung an idea on Vera Gomes, principal of Morgan Hill’s continuation high school, Central High School, and program director for the Loritta Bonfante Education Center, which is situated on the campus. “When Flex closed, there had been talk about charters coming in to fill niches that public schools weren’t providing. Superintendent Betando asked if we opened a school like this, would we have interest?” Gomes told TODAY . She believed they would, and she was right. They call their program the Morgan Hill Individualized Learning Academy (MOHILA), a smaller but similar program to the Flex Academy, in which students can work at their own pace, online and in class without many of the pressures of a traditional classroom or from peers. It is housed on campus at Central High for now. Gomes called 2016 its pilot year, in which they mostly took in strays of Flex, but in its second year she feels it has already begun to find its feet and serve the needs of specific families and students. gmh 110 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN “This year it’s more aligned to students that want a smaller environment, want to be able to accelerate on their own.” It’s the perfect model for kids who are involved in competitive sports where traditional school can be hard to work around, for kids who want to work faster than their classroom, or for kids who find a traditional classroom limiting to their learning in any number of ways. Using curriculum from a company called Edmentum, they offer a compatible school day for kids in grades seven to twelve, from 8:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. every day, with a “mostly digital interface and individualized instruction with the support of a teacher for tutoring, feedback, lab activities, collaborative time, STEM activities, and more,” Gomes explained. She said that the digital program is a college prep program, “just as a comprehensive high school would