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Woodland Public Schools offers an innovative combination home-school/on-campus program with Lewis River Academy

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Woodland Public Schools offers the Lewis River Academy (LRA) to help parents with home-schooled students to integrate on-campus coursework and activities into their curriculum.

Home-schooled students in grades K-12 can participate in the Lewis River Academy to receive access to courses, curriculum, and other experiences while still having an alternative learning experience to traditional schooling.
Home-schooled students in grades K-12 can participate in the Lewis River Academy to receive access to courses, curriculum, and other experiences while still having an alternative learning experience to traditional schooling. 

LRA offers an alternative learning environment for K-12 students who want to participate in a different approach to learning. "The mission and vision of the LRA program is to be an extension for our homeschooling students as they try to navigate different curriculum by offering online and in-person alternatives to traditional school," explained Woodland High School Principal John Shoup. "We have some students who have never set foot in a public school, so we created rooms dedicated to the program where students in the program can have their own environment while, at the same time, students can participate in other school activities."

At Woodland High School, the LRA classroom includes a computer lab with Internet access to provide high school level students online access to research and materials. Five Highly-Qualified teachers offer a variety of courses to help students meet the state requirements for alternative learning experiences with students communicating with teachers via email and setting up in-person meetings to discuss their course work. "The LRA program offers opportunities to students with non-traditional lifestyles to participate," said Shannon Yates, a parent with two students in the LRA program. "For example, we've had students who work full-time still earn their diplomas, and another student in the program traveled the world while finishing high school."

The LRA program requires the same amount of rigor as traditional schooling. "Students in the LRA program must dedicate six hours each day to their schooling just like any other student," explained Elizabeth Landrigan, the High School Coordinator for the LRA. "The program offers home-schooled students access to high school electives like band and athletics while still permitting them to take their core classes through the LRA."

Landrigran serves as the go-between for the LRA students and teachers. "I proctor all tests and ensure that all students are on-task while they spend time on-campus," said Landrigan. "I really enjoy having the students in the classroom because it offers me the opportunity to learn more about them as individuals."

Parents and students greatly appreciate the innovative approach offered by the LRA. "The LRA program offers a lot of opportunities and flexibility for other types of enrichment opportunities," said Yates. "Home-schooling isn't students taking classes by themselves at home; the LRA approach allows students who have different ways of learning to learn material at their own pace while socializing and participating in other school activities."

Chloe Yates (left), a sophomore, and her sister, Isabella Yates (right), a seventh grader, enjoy learning at their own pace and having access to more advanced coursework through the Lewis River Academy.
Chloe Yates (left), a sophomore, and her sister, Isabella Yates (right), a seventh grader, enjoy learning at their own pace and having access to more advanced coursework through the Lewis River Academy.

Yates' children appreciate the ability to take electives and more advanced courses in the LRA program. "I've been able to take drama classes because I can co-enroll at the high school," said Chloe Yates, a sophomore in the program. "I have my own space and can work all day; the LRA program simply works better for me than traditional school." Chloe's younger sister, Isabella, is in seventh grade and likes having access to more advanced courses. "With LRA, I'm able to take high school algebra and can complete as many lessons as I want in a single day by working at my own pace," she said. "I highly recommend anyone who thinks the LRA program might work for them to investigate it."

The LRA program's success is based on students taking a strong interest in their own learning. "In order to succeed in the LRA program, students must take ownership in their learning, growing their ability to not only be productive by completing their work, but also by reflecting on and communicating their understanding of the material they're learning," said Annika Dukes, the LRA Middle School Teacher for students in grades sixth through eighth. "The balance of school and community involvement offers our students a lot of affirmation and access to a wider world where they are learning to be successful."

LRA teachers enjoy forming deeper relationships with their students and the students' families because of the deep involvement the families have in their children's education.
LRA teachers enjoy forming deeper relationships with their students and the students' families because of the deep involvement the families have in their children's education.

Teachers involved in the LRA program appreciate the interactions they have with both the students and their families. "We forge deep relationships with our LRA families as they are highly-involved in their children's education," said Teri Reter, who teaches grades K-5 for LRA. "We consider ourselves all family, and we are all committed to ensuring our students' success by providing a safe, positive learning environment to meet our students' unique needs."

Teachers find the LRA program offers excellent opportunities for the students who need alternatives to traditional schooling. "LRA students are independent learners and need a different style of teaching; it's more about coaching and directional teaching than my traditional classes," said Bryana Steck, WHS's band teacher who also serves as a music and elective teacher for the LRA. "I think the LRA is an excellent program as some students are more self-motivated, and do what they need to do without the same approach to teaching other students need." Reter agrees with Steck, "I believe wholeheartedly in the opportunities an alternative program provides; families choose the program for a variety of reasons, but they all ultimately wish to empower their student’s educational and personal success."

The LRA program offers dedicated rooms and equipment to all students in grades K-12 so they can have access to online courses and research material.
The LRA program offers dedicated rooms and equipment to all students in grades K-12 so they can have access to online courses and research material. 

Students interested in enrolling in the LRA can contact Assistant Superintendent Asha Riley for grades K-8 or Woodland High School Principal John Shoup to enroll at the high school level. The interested student and parents will meet with Riley or Shoup to discuss how the program works, and whether LRA fits the family's interest and approach to their student's learning. "We want to determine that the LRA program is a good fit for the students and families during the intake overview," explained Shoup. "If the LRA is the right fit, the student can enroll and get started right away."

For more information, interested students and families can visit the Lewis River Academy website at www.lewisriveracademy.org or through the Woodland Public Schools website at www.woodlandschools.org.