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10/12/2012 6:01:00 AM
Square pegs find a place at online Kingman school
AHRON SHERMAN/MinerRoy Burger (left) and his son, Alex, look over an assignment Tuesday at the temporary Kingman Online Learning Academy.
AHRON SHERMAN/Miner

Roy Burger (left) and his son, Alex, look over an assignment Tuesday at the temporary Kingman Online Learning Academy.

Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter


KINGMAN - Alex Burger is your typical teenager. He gets distracted easily, loves to talk and enjoys horsing around with his friends.

And just like many other teenagers, his rambunctious personality doesn't mesh well with traditional school.

The 14-year-old ninth-grader was recently suspended from school for the semester because he was playing around with another student and ended up hurting the kid.

But instead of being stuck at home doing nothing for the next couple of months, he enrolled in the Kingman Online Learning Academy, a new program in the Kingman Unified School District designed to keep kids in school and allow them to learn at their own pace.

"I get my work done better here than I do at the other school," he said. "I'm less distracted, and the material is easier for me to understand."

Though Education 20/20, an Internet-based, core curriculum aligned method of instruction, is already offered seven periods a day at Kingman High, the online academy, which also uses the program, is designed to create a full-blown online school.

"There are 100 different classes students can choose from," said KUSD Curriculum Director Jeri Wolsey.

Each subject is connected with a highly qualified teacher who tracks student progress and provides help when needed, she said. There is also constant communication between students, parents, the out-of-district teachers connected with the program and the academy's Online Educational Specialist, Linnette Giles, who was hired for this position less than a week ago.

The school has 13 students and is located at the district office for the time being. But the KUSD school board approved an intergovernmental agreement Tuesday with the city of Kingman to use the old JC Penney building on the corner of Fourth and Beale streets for the online school.

The agreement is on Council's Tuesday meeting agenda, and if approved as is, Kingman Unified will not pay rent. In exchange, the city would get to use district property, such as Lee Williams High's auditorium, at no cost.

The building needs a lot of work, and if the agreement is approved, the city would provide many of the needed materials and the district would do the work.

Students can enroll in the school to make up missing credits, get ahead on credits and to see if they learn better in a virtual environment.

"It makes KUSD more marketable in today's world," Wolsey said.

The dropout rate in Kingman and the rest of the nation is horrendous, said KUSD Superintendent Roger Jacks. This is just another option for students who don't feel the traditional school setting is meeting their needs, he added.

"Options for success," Giles said. "That's what we're looking for."

Wolsey envisions having 100 students enrolled by June and 200 by August.

As the program grows, she hopes to create a blended learning environment where students can come in and take scheduled classes if they choose or do their personalized online schooling, which can also be done from home, instead.

"You could come in and get some help" on your own time, Wolsey said. "But there would still be a schedule of lessons being taught."

Alex Burger's father, Roy Burger, loves the program.

"He has no one to talk to, and it helps him concentrate," Roy Burger said.

He's even contemplating the program for his other two children because of the improvement Alex Burger has made in such a short time.

Before the suspension, he'd been failing his language arts class. During his short time at the online school, he's completed three language arts assignments, scoring 100 percent on each.

"He has the power of information at his hands," Roy Burger said.

Giles notices the difference in Alex Burger, too.

"I see more focus from him and a desire to learn," she said.

Students who enroll at the school can still participate in extracurricular activities at the high school, which Alex Burger likes but can't take part in until next semester because of his suspension.

With the an emphasis on students learning at their own pace, Jacks and Wolsey expect for the school to really take off once more students and parents learn about it.

"I didn't expect to have 13 kids" enrolled in the school so soon, Wolsey said. "But that's 13 closer to our goal."

Related Stories:
• Kingman school program may have to move out of new home
• Kingman school district seeks use of building


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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Article comment by: I Beg to Differ

The students are not all square pegs or troublemakers. Some parents are choosing, wisely, to avoid the indoctrination that is so rampant in public schools. For example, the Social Studies teacher Mr. Weisser who brought in a Socialist poet to brain wash the easily impressionable students. Or the sex education class where students decided to try-out what they had just learned. Do you really want to send your children to that everyday?

Posted: Saturday, October 13, 2012
Article comment by: Grumpy Old Sourpuss

I certainly wish they had online education back in my day (late fifties). I would have jumped on it like a duck on a June bug.

Instead I chose to keep my "square" butt out of their pre-defined pigeon holes by using my brains to create the illusion that I loved being in their pigeon hole . . . All the while planning and plowing my own row for the future.

I graduated, grabbed their stinkin' diploma and gave them one last gander at my "square" backside and never looked back.

The downtown campus is now named after the fine gentlemen that did his best to pound my "square" backside into his pigeon hole. Best I can say is, "Nice Try, Dude" !


Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012
Article comment by: Ahron Sherman

Concerned Citizen,
It is the choice of the parent and student, and much of the work can be done at home with the parent's present. At no time will the district place a student in the program against his or her wishes.


Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012
Article comment by: Good Idea

Concerned Citizen: You, obviously, have not had a student who has been bullied and "accidentally hurt" at school. Bullies DO need to be segregated- they are not only abusive but they tend to run in packs and are very disrespectful and mean. All schools should have the right to dump kids who cause problems for other kids. Let their parents sit with them while they do their online schooling- that is a great punishment. I am not contending that this particular boy is a bully- I refer to bullies, in general.

Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012
Article comment by: Highly Amused

If the dropout age was set to 18 instead of 16, there would be less dropping out, I think. Kids are not aware of just how much dropping out can affect their future at the age of 16. All they know is they hate school and they think they can do better without it.

Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012
Article comment by: concerned citizen

It's hard to say whether this is a godsend or not. The program could work for kids like this individual. But who determines if the student is "easily distracted" or just unruly and undisciplined!
Who determines if the school is better off w/o these students and may be putting them off to the side, or just doesn't want to discipline them.
If the parent will be there, as in the picture, or will never be there with their child?
Again, it's not the program, but who decides, and what do they base that decision upon.




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