Accredited online high school available to local students
August 11, 2012
“The advantage (of GOAL Academy) is that they can choose their own hours, because many students have jobs, some are mommies or daddies. They don’t have to be checked into a place every day. They can do their work on their timeframe but yet still receive an accredited Colorado Department of Education diploma.”
— Annette McCurdy, GOAL Academy’s academic coach in Craig, about the advantages of the online school over a traditional high school
Annette McCurdy thinks high school is about more than just grades.
"It's all about getting ready for life," the Craig resident said about the importance of the skills and knowledge acquired during those formative years. "Graduating high school is the first step in getting ready for life."
Starting this month, Northwest Colorado students between the ages of 14 and 21 will have a new way to achieve that first step when GOAL Academy begins offering classes locally.
GOAL Academy — which stands for Guided Online Academic Learning — is an online public high school operating in Colorado for the past five years. According to its website, http://www.goalac.org, GOAL students "can obtain a quality education and a high school diploma," while using "state-of-the-art technology to deliver an engaging curriculum."
GOAL is accredited by the Colorado Charter School Institute, which according to CSI means that it both falls under the purview of the Colorado Department of Education and offers an accredited diploma to its graduates.
"One-hundred percent of the GOAL Academy students will graduate with an accredited Colorado Department of Education diploma/completion certificate," McCurdy said, adding that the school is completely publicly funded.
In addition to providing classes, GOAL provides laptop computers to enrolled students as well as offering drop-in centers and academic coaches at various locations across the state to help support students enrolled in classes.
Although local students have had remote access to GOAL in previous academic years, Aug. 20 marks the start of the first session in which a local academic coach — McCurdy — will be available to area students.
McCurdy, who has a background in math, graduated from Regis University in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts. Before being contacted by GOAL Academy to be an academic coach, she worked for Moffat County School District as a paraprofessional as well as a teacher at the alternative school.
While she is looking forward to her job, McCurdy said the presence of academic coaches is just one way GOAL Academy supports its students.
"I am going to be the local academic coach if (students) need help, however for every core class that they have, there are specialists in those subject areas to help," she said.
Flexibility in scheduling is another advantage of GOAL Academy, according to the school's website.
"Our block scheduling allows students to move forward in the curriculum with support from their academic coaches at a pace that keeps them on track to graduate," the website stated.
McCurdy echoed that sentiment, saying the flexibility provided by GOAL Academy makes it easier for non-traditional students, like those with children or who have to work full time in addition to school, to earn a diploma.
"The advantage is that they can choose their own hours, because many students have jobs, some are mommies or daddies," she said. "They don't have to be checked into a place every day. They can do their work on their timeframe but yet still receive an accredited Colorado Department of Education diploma."
There are certain requirements GOAL students must fulfill, McCurdy said. It is mandatory for students to complete at least three classes in each nine-week session, which requires a dedication to daily work. Students also must complete 22 credits to graduate, the same as in a traditional high school in Colorado, including four credits in English, three in math, two in science, two in social studies, 1/2 in health and 1/2 in physical education.
However McCurdy said another advantage of GOAL Academy is that students are allowed to tailor their education to whatever their plans are after graduation.
"They're all going to have individual schedules," she said. "It's determined by what they need."
Though McCurdy expected a small response for her first year as academic coach for the Craig/Meeker/Steamboat Springs area, she was surprised when 35 students enrolled.
"It real took off quickly," she said, adding that when enrollment hits 50 an official drop-in center can be established in Craig.
Orientation for those new students takes place Thursday with the session kicking off Aug. 20.
McCurdy and other GOAL Academy officials will be available to answer questions from community members from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 18 at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, 1324 E. U.S. Highway 40.
McCurdy said she is looking forward to spreading the word about GOAL Academy and all it has to offer.
"The curriculum is challenging yet flexible," McCurdy said. "(GOAL Academy) has a caring staff that ensures the success of the students."
For more information about GOAL Academy and its presence in Northwest Colorado, call McCurdy at 208-6329.