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The Changing Face of Education: Student Perspectives 

Jacob Doyle 

By: Jacob Doyle, Journalism Intern – GOAL High School

Has education changed forever? Where do we go from here?  GOAL High School, a blended-online charter school founded in 2007, offers a great alternative!  What may seem like a daunting mission of developing productive members of society, GOAL has proven effective with over fourteen years of innovation. GOAL provides a chance for some of the over 50,000 “disconnected” students in Colorado to re-engage. While providing that chance, GOAL works hard to do even more. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, articulation agreements with community colleges and universities across Colorado, which allows students to earn college credit while fulfilling their high school requirements.  GOAL currently enrolls over 5,000 students, employs over 500 staff members, and utilizes 37 student drop-in centers to assist around 1,000 graduates per year. It is undeniable that GOAL’s model of success is working! To learn just how successful, let’s go to the source: the students! 

Anastasia Ayres, a junior from Aurora spends her free time playing basketball and soccer, spending time with her family, and “star gazing”. She loves helping people and would like to work as a therapist or an elementary school teacher. With grand aspirations such as these, Anastasia needs all the freedom and opportunity she can get, and she can get this from GOAL. “[In] in-person school, I struggled a lot. So, this type of online school really helped me, especially with my independence.” When asked about what kind of opportunities GOAL has, she mentioned the GOAL Ventures program, an experiential education opportunity to immerse students in real world scenarios. Anastasia views this as a great opportunity to travel and learn great life lessons. They also have something quite special at her Aurora site. “On Wednesdays we have this Career [day] where we have a person tell us about their job and how they got there…[Recently we] had… a [marketing specialist] for the NBA.  

[GOAL] also has really good college opportunities… I think it’s nice.”  GOAL High School is also nice considering the freedoms it can provide.  “I also work, so it usually …goes with my work schedule too,” Anastasia said.  She visits the student drop-in center daily. “I hang around with the teachers there. I don’t want to talk to one teacher, specifically, I want to talk to everyone.” She couldn’t say enough about the friendly and welcoming atmosphere that GOAL provides.  “So friendly, so nice.”  GOAL is committed to giving its students as much freedom and opportunity as possible.  “I think it’s a good thing… with in-person schools I always felt that pressure to try and fit in… You know? You [have to] look this way, you have to be passing this class, and you have to fail this one. It’s just nice to not feel that type of pressure”. 

This same sentiment is found in Janie Silva of Canon City, who felt out of place in a brick-and-mortar setting; she found her “second chance” at GOAL after moving from California. When asked how GOAL has helped her Janie said, “I think it’s helped me a lot because when I first started [at GOAL], I was only getting D’s and F’s… I wasn’t taking [advantage of] any of the resources they were giving me…” Eventually Janie embraced the support of GOAL staff, who later offered her an internship and asked her to tutor. The support didn’t stop there. 

“They helped look [at colleges] and what I [wanted] to go to school for… gave me the tools to move forward for the career that I [chose].” Going from a failing student to a tutor is very impressive. This is due in large part to the unusual level of support systems set up at GOAL. 

Janie went on to say, “[Her previous] teachers, they [were inadequate and didn’t] care about your education [but] more like, ‘I’m just here to get paid’. [At GOAL] they actually sat down with me. One teacher… Jeff Perkins, would sit with me for like an hour or so. He would go through… step by step and make sure that I understood it.”  

Elaina Arroyo, a recent graduate of the Thornton site, will pursue a career in teaching or therapy. She echoed many of Janie’s reflections but added her own perspective. Elaina shared that she “never really [had] been a people person… but, after going to GOAL, I’ve definitely seen myself become open…[to] talking to people. I’ve seen a big change in myself.” Much like Janie, Elaina is extremely appreciative of GOAL’s teachers. “[GOAL] teachers are… motivation to you… very helpful…[and] are more [directly] involved with you… as a person”. When asked if GOAL has negatively impacted her, Elaina said, “I don’t think it has.”  

In Thornton (north Denver), Rodrigo Torres is an aspiring musician working toward his dream through GOAL’s partnership with Perfect World Music Academy where he receives instruction on a wide variety of musical principles ranging from theory to engineering. Rodrigo takes advantage of GOAL’s flexible time management, “If I can’t work [on my schoolwork] for a week, I can come in the next week and get it all done.” This allows him to balance school, music practice, and caring for his sisters. In a few short months, he will graduate and will further pursue his musical career and continue helping to care for his sisters.  

GOAL is one of the premier charter schools in Colorado; and, contrary to the belief of some, the school is not in the business of siphoning talent; rather, GOAL simply offers an alternative to students who are completely disconnected from school along with the handful of students who are in school but disengaged.  Not every student wishes to go from class to class for an eight-hour block every day, nor are all students built to be beholden to a schedule. Every student has a right to education: high-risk, high-functioning, or anywhere in between. Where else better to achieve this education than, as Rodrigo put it, “…one of the best”?    

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