Flexibility the name of the game for Coronado Pathways students

July 21, 2015

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Amanda Ursitti knew something had to change when she wasn't seeing her family much and her lack of sleep was leading to health problems. That change came in the form of Coronado Pathways Charter School when a friend told her about the charter high school that offers online learning with face-to-face academic support from credentialed teachers.

Exhausted by a grueling schedule of traditional school, sports, classes at the Coronado Observatory School of the Arts (COSA), and interning at a movie studio in Los Angeles, the 15-year-old found that Coronado Pathways allows her the flexibility she needs. She is taking the same coursework that any other student in a traditional high school does, but has more time to pursue her career goal of working in the entertainment industry.

"I love it because I have a chance to focus 100 percent on two classes at a time and gain a good understanding," Ursitti said. "I like being able to have face time with teachers when I need it."

Coronado Pathways Charter School provides online learning, so that students can learn at their own pace. The school is in its second year and is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the curriculum is University of California/California State University A-G certified.

Students take two classes during a six-week period to allow for mastery of the subjects. While they are given the flexibility to create their own schedules, the school offers one-on-one time with highly qualified, credentialed teachers Monday through Thursday from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m.

"This is about fitting school around their lives instead of fitting their lives around school," said Coronado Pathways Director Kevin Nicolls.

According to Nicolls, many of the school's students are busy pursuing other interests outside of school - whether it's pursuing an acting career, running their own business, or sports that require extensive travel. These students need educational options, Nicolls said, that fit the demands of their lives, while preparing them for college.

"Life is an open book test where the test is part of the learning," Nicolls said. "Online learning allows students to access all the tools to solve problems - just like life. We are developing life-long learners, not Jeopardy contestants." This spring, Pathways athletes became eligible to compete on Coronado High School teams through a CIF Multi-School agreement. The agreement allows students who desire a more self-directed educational experience a chance to also participate in traditional high school sports.

Emma Kidd is another student who discovered she not only needed the flexibility that Pathways offers, but she needed a different educational experience.

"For me personally, it was hard to focus in a classroom with a bunch of students," said Kidd. "At first, it was scary to leave a system that I knew for 10 years, but I like the work environment that Pathways provides."

According to Kidd, she goes into Pathways as much as she can to have one-on-one time with teachers. When she doesn't understand a concept, she says she re-teaches herself by watching the video online a couple times and then goes into the school to get clarification from her teachers.

An aspiring actress and singer, Kidd attends COSA and travels regularly to Los Angeles for auditions.

"The schedule I have with Pathways comes in handy when I get last-minute audition calls," Kidd said. "I just bring my laptop and take school with me."

Kidd is also making the most of the flexibility by taking college courses at the local community college. For both Kidd and Ursitti, Pathways is allowing them to achieve their educational goals of post-secondary education, while also pursuing their career goals.

And they are both getting a lot more sleep.