GOAL Academy offers online platform learning | CraigDailyPress.com

GOAL Academy offers online platform learning

Noelle Leavitt Riley

When talking about education in Moffat County, it's important to know that Moffat County School District is not the only educational institution available to students.

GOAL Academy launched in Craig three years ago, offering high school students an alternative way to learn outside of the traditional classroom.

The institution gives students an opportunity to get their high school diploma on their own time and at their own pace through online and face-to-face teaching.

GOAL stands for Guided Online Academic Learning and is essentially an online public charter high school, and those who attend have a gamut of different needs.

"They can be students who excel. They can be students who need a little more assistance," said Nikki Robinson, and ICAP specialist at Craig's GOAL Academy.

The academy personalizes the learning experience for each student.

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"This approach to schooling combines face-to-face instruction with online learning and has yielded strong results. In fact, according to a 2010 study from the U.S. Department of Education, blended learning classes produce statistically better results than their face-to-face, non-hybrid equivalents," according to GOAL's website.

It's also allows students who have non-traditional lives — those who have to care for elderly loved ones or teens who have kids — to engage in online learning at their convenience.

All the classes are online, and students can instant message with instructors. The company is based in Pueblo, so most of the teachers that students interact with are from Colorado.

Classes are available 24 hours a day, which means that if a 17-year-old students has to work during normal school hours in order to support his or her family, that student can participate in curriculum in the evening after work.

"These students can complete high school sooner than an average brick and mortar," Robinson said, noting that many students graduate as juniors.

It also is a place where students who have been severely bullied in the traditional classroom setting go to feel accepted.

Alexandria Cruz, 17, and her brother Johnathan Cruz, 15, both attend Goal Academy in a large part because they were bullied when they were in the school district classroom.

"When I came here for the first time, I thought that I could get the help that I need," Alexandria Cruz said. "I like coming here because there's not so many bullies. I feel more accepted."

Her brother agrees.

"I like the school. Every teacher at this school is so nice to you," Johnathan Cruz said. "It gives me more time to think about getting a job and take care of my mom and my three sisters."

Reach Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@craigdailypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @noelleleavitt.

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