The Classical Academy High School is probably unlike any school you have ever seen. In many ways, it is a model for the future, a precursor to hybrid logistics and a school that just works, sprung from the mind of Stacy Perez, the founding principal. Because they are a Summit Learning School and funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, they have a little more flexibility than your average school. But oh, what they have chosen to do with that flexibility!
“The one thing that we always made sure we did and we still do,” said Perez, “was that mentorship piece so having conversations with students; any teacher can be a mentor but we have intentional conversations every single day that are not about academics so when the student gets out of the car in the morning, I'm like ‘Hi, How are you?’ I have a teacher that's at the front desk and she tells every student that they're loved and appreciated and that's reciprocated to us and that's been shown in their academics this past school year we were the highest in San Diego County as far as our graduation and College acceptance rate but we have a very diverse population.
“We have students from 33 different cities that all come to our little building,” continued Perez. “They don't have to come to school and though we don't count attendance, students walk in, and they scan their school ID card that just tells us who's on campus at any given time in case there was a fire or an emergency. Other than that, they sign up for three-day workshops with a teacher. They don't have to go to those workshops, but they do, so when we started making it that we had actual workshops we found that 80 percent of our students wanted to come to school every day. I have zero discipline problems because if you're having a bad day, you can go home and we're going to have that conversation too. We have a lot of troubled students, but we also have a lot of athletes, we have a lot of Disney Princesses, so we have all these different levels like you'd find out in the real world coming together supporting and loving each other based on those conversations we're having.
“The first thing we ask is, what time do you want to come on campus? If the answer is, I don't want to come on campus at all, that’s okay, you can be in our virtual program. Some want to be independent study and they've come up through our other schools; it's called C track which is full homeschool so that's another option or do you want 3D workshops? We had a spike in enrollment when the vaccination laws happened because students can't get direct instruction in California if they're not fully vaccinated but they can be on campus and they can play football and they can be on the dance team and they can do everything except get direct instruction so at that time we created what's called our self-directed learning area. Again, it's just a large open area students area. They are self-directed, they have their curriculum and they also have access to those provincial teachers that they can't get instruction from so we do have a virtual hour for every core subject meaning second period is math if you're at home or if you're in another city or another state. If you are in Hawaii on vacation, you can still get your math instructions three days a week just like a student would that's sitting right in front of them.”
Enjoy this video. There is a lot to take in, and perhaps some of the future may rub off on you. In any event, Perez is an inspiration and a gem, and all our schools can find something to “take home” from this video.