New charter school offers alternative approach to education

ReponsiveEd is the organization behind Premier High School, encouraging new ways of educating students.

Premier High School of Amarillo is a ResponsiveEd® free public charter school offering students a non-traditional approach to education. Responsive Education solutions, the organization behind the Premier High School, has been around for the past 15 years providing educational gateways for students who may find traditional schools challenging or not suitable to their learning needs.

Just like any other school, Premier High School began their first week of school on August 25th, with 160 students enrolled. However, instead of a set curriculum set by teachers, the students in these classes will self-direct their learning material and learning speed.

â??Our approach is a little bit different. Our approach is to give the student more power or control of their acadmic career. A lot of students feel that they donâ??t have that. Theyâ??re told by a school, theyâ??re told by their parents, theyâ??re told by their parents what they have to take and their opinions are left to the side and they kind of feel a big disconnect in terms of education. Here we try to incorporate their interest,â?? said Premier High School of Amarillo director, Manuela Allen.

The teachers and administrators allow the students to individualize their own education program while still ensuring the student understand what is required by TEA to receive a high school diploma. The individualized approach is meant to accommodate each studentâ??s learning abilities, challenges, and goals.

â??I like how I can move at my own pace and I donâ??t have to be pushed by a teacher to get stuff done at a certain point. I can go ahead, I can kind of level out, I donâ??t have to have a teacher breathing down my back all day,â?? said senior Alyx Stabel.

Alyx explained that it is the responsibility of the student to excel in their own work and to challenge themselves. For some students, it can be hard, and for others, extremely easy. It all depends on the students attitude, willingness to learn, and desire to graduate.

â??Itâ??s prepared me because itâ??s teaching me how to take responsibility for myself and to make sure that if I donâ??t have something turned in, then itâ??s my own fault,â?? said Stabel.

Alyxâ??s mother originally was just a strong support of the program, and now, she has become a teacher for the new charter here in Amarillo. Talking about this system versus the public school system, it is clear she sees much more opportunity for growth as an individual in the smaller, more accommodating classes.

â??I like the self-directed learning. My children were struggling in public school, they had different personalities with teachers and stuff, struggled with the lecturing. My oldest child would get bored very easy and when she gets bored she just doesnâ??t perform,â?? explained Stabel.â?? She likes to work at her own pace. This program is very beneficial to children like that that who donâ??t want to wait on a teacher to teach them something. Doing it themselves, and it gives them a sense of ownership.â??

She also said she believes having the students take ownership and responsibility for their learning better prepares them for the college world.

â??Once you get up to college, theyâ??re not going to babysit you and I think this is more like that because you have to be self-directed,â?? said Stabel.

The school still has ten possible applicants for this year. Allen said the Panhandle has been extremely welcoming as they begin the new school year.