The school, which caters to students in the USC area, is open to students seven days a week, year round. Each student is required to attend 35 hours of class per week and 180 days a year, and the school develops a personalized learning plan to fit their needs. There are currently 93 students enrolled, but enrollment will remain open.
“My hope is that my students begin to see this as the most interesting and fun place they have to hang out,” Executive Director David Dwyer said. “If we see that, we know we’ve created a successful environment for the students where we have a chance to advance them academically.”
Dwyer said they plan to heavily incorporate technology into the classroom to create a personalized learning system where students will work at their own pace to master the curriculum. Each student will receive a Macbook Air, which they will check out during the day while they are on campus, and an iPod Touch, which they can take anywhere.
“[The iPod] becomes their communication tool,” he said. “It’s their student ID, it’s their email system and it’s how they get lunch.”
Principal Stephanie McClay said the innovative part of the school is not the technology, but the personal attention that it allows. The technology will allow teachers to receive instant feedback on the progress of their students.
“Technology supports the personalized learning plans to take them forward,” Dywer said. “If we have 90 or 100 kids, they’re going to be all across the spectrum, so it really allows the teachers to individualize for every student.”
The school plans to graduate 100 percent of its students. Because of the mastery-based curriculum, each student must receive at least a “B” to pass a class.
McClay said the goal is to make the academic program so tailored to each student that no student considers the possibility of not finishing school.
“The student and teacher are going to keep going until the student gets it,” McClay said. “Giving a failing grade in our program is not acceptable from a teacher perspective.”
Los Angeles Unified School District Director of Charter Schools Jose Cole-Gutierrez said he looks forward to working with Hybrid High.
“A 100 percent graduation rate is one of the top-line goals for the district,” Cole-Gutierrez said. “We look forward to working with them to reach this goal. We also have high expectations that they will help us achieve 100 percent graduation.”
Dwyer said he has already seen plenty of enthusiasm from prospective students and families during open houses this summer.
“The extent of their happiness is a surprise,” he said. “They’re all committed to a new way of working. They understand this is going to be different.”