SF charter school combines traditional, online ed

September 7, 2010 5:50:29 PM PDT
A charter school in San Francisco is now the first to combine online instruction with a traditional teacher-in the-classroom approach.

There are educators at Stanford and Harvard who say that half of the public schools in the United States will be partly online in the next decade or two. This means students following the curriculum on the computer and that is what Flex Academy in San Francisco has set out to do.

At California's first hybrid school, 80 percent of the instruction will be taught online and the remaining 20 percent will be taught in a traditional classroom. Like any other school, students are expected to show up five days a week from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"It's less distractions here and everybody gets to focus on their own lesson plan," says student Ariana Fisher.

"It just so happened that my daughter wanted the socialization that a brick-and-mortar school gave, so it was actually quite an easy decision for us," says parent Milan Fisher.

On Tuesday morning, it was time to get-acquainted. Classes started at the St. Francis Hotel in downtown San Francisco. The St. Francis is only a temporary location for them. The old Press Club on Post Street will be the new home for the new school. The new building should be available in two weeks with plenty of classrooms and computer space for the nearly 50 students so far enrolled at Flex Academy.

Students will have the K-12 online curriculum which is used by many kids who are home-schooled. That curriculum offers 130 courses, including five languages. It is school at your own pace with individualized attention.

"So for example, if you're behind, you get more help so you could succeed," explains Executive Director Mark Kushner. "If you're very advanced and fast, you can go faster and that could differ in different subjects."

Humberto Cruz is one of only four teachers hired by the school.

"It's not how interesting a lesson I put together or how much I can sort of entertainment them. It's really up to them to get through the material and I provide the support when I think it's something really difficult," he says.

"At my old school, there were about 40 kids to a classroom. It was pretty overcrowded and the teachers really didn't have enough time for each student," says student Albero Berul.

Like any other public charter school, they are funded by the state. Even though the school is located in San Francisco, any student in the Bay Area can enroll. They have nearly 50 students and hope to enroll 200 this semester.


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