A new public high school in the Lansing area is set to open its doors this fall, and it's unlike any other school in Mid-Michigan. The Nexus Academy in Okemos will be a physical version of a virtual high school, combining online courses with face-to-face instruction.
It's called "blended learning" -- and the idea is to prepare kids for college, but with a curriculum that's flexible and personalized for each student.
Connections Education, one of the largest online education companies, is opening these charter high schools in four other cities besides Lansing, including one in Grand Rapids and three in Ohio. The company says the blended learning approach is the most effective educational model, and it's perfect for high school students looking for a different kind of learning environment.
Mickey Revenaugh of Connections Education says the public charter school will enroll about 300 students in grades 9 through 12.
"So in some ways, it's better than the best of both worlds," said Revenaugh. "It's really small where everyone knows your name, and it's also a high school that allows you to master material to really make you college ready."
Students will be responsible for their own learning, coming to Nexus Academy in two shifts for four hours a day. There will be no bells or hall passes. Students will work on their own or in teams to access their online courses or interact with the teachers on-site.
"They will have access to a broad curriculum, broader than most high schools in the state," Revenaugh said. "So they have 20 advanced placement classes, 13 foreign languages, a variety of electives."
The students can move through those classes at their own pace, mimicking more of a college atmosphere than that of a traditional high school.
"This is the perfect environment for anyone who aspires to go to college, but who wants a really different environment to prepare them for that," said Revenaugh.
To prevent students from becoming "computer potatoes," there will be a personal trainer on staff who develops a fitness plan for every student. Every student will be expected to do fitness activities every day. Revenaugh says in today's world all students need some form of post-secondary education, and the Nexus Academy will put them on a path to success.
"This school gets them to graduation, but also prepares them so when they get to college, they can also be really successful," said Revenaugh. "And then finish college in a time frame that makes them and their parents happy, and gets them out into the workforce with the kinds of skills we need for the 21st century."
Enrollment under way for the upcoming school year. Nexus Academy is accepting applications from now until August 2nd. Students in the greater Lansing area who can get themselves to the school is eligible to attend.
There is an information session for interested students or parents every Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express on University Park Drive in Okemos. If you can't attend an info session in person, some are scheduled online as well - http://www.nexusacademyschool.com/blended-school/michigan/home.aspx