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Carpe Diem expanding to Indiana
The Yuma campus has received recognition for innovation and performance including:
• Student performance is higher than other local and state schools, with 94 percent proficiency and 36 percent advanced performance average on state and math reading tests
• Being named Among America's Best High Schools in 2009, 2010 and 2011 by US News & World Report and BusinessWeek
• Receiving 2011 Spotlight on Success Award by Arizona Department of Education for leveraging technology to boost student achievement
— Information provided by Rick Ogston, Carpe Diem CEO and founder
Carpe Diem, a Yuma-based charter school, is making a name for itself across state lines as it opens a school in Indiana this fall.
Rick Ogston, CEO and founder of Carpe Diem, said they plan to launch six schools in Indiana over the next three or four years after approval by the Indiana Charter School Board.
Ogston said the venture began when Tony Bennett, state superintendent of schools in Indiana, expressed interest in Carpe Diem and came to Yuma to visit the campus. Bennett was impressed with the combination of computer-based and in-person instruction, said Ogston, noting that he then encouraged Ogston to apply for a charter in Indiana.
There will also be a Carpe Diem Online School to Indiana, similar to the one offered to students across Arizona.
“I believe technology provides us the best opportunity to personalize education,” Ogston said. “It's customizable for every student — I think that though digital learning can look different in different schools, it doesn't all have to look like Carpe Diem, but I think you can leverage technology school in different schools for every student and be able to increase their engagement and better equip them for the 21st century.”
Ogston said the new school is currently being built in Indianapolis and will be a sixth- through 12th-grade school called Carpe Diem Meridian. He added that they are planning to integrate new and improved technology on the campus from what is currently being offered at the Yuma campuses.
“We're introducing some new concepts there so it's going to be like Carpe Diem 3.0,” he described, noting that as soon as they have the funds to do so they plan to retrofit the technology at the Yuma campuses as well. The Yuma campuses consist of Desert View Elementary, a K-6 school; Carpe Diem Collegiate High School, with sixth through 12th grades; and Carpe Diem Online School.
They plan to make use of interactive virtual teachers as well as traditional highly qualified teachers to introduce a more virtual interconnectivity to the instructional component, he said.
“It's not going to take away anything, it's not a substitute for the face-to-face instruction that we already provide.”
The technology will allow students to be in a classroom while seeing a teacher on a digital screen during the lesson, Ogston explained.
“It's similar to Skyping, but better because it's more stable of a platform,” he said, noting that teachers can write a problem on the board wherever they are located and it will be transferred to the board where the students are so they can solve the problem and submit their answers.
“The teacher can watch them as they go. It's interactive visually and audibly as well as kinesthetically. It's a whole new level of instruction.”
Leading up to and during the implementation of the Carpe Diem Meridian campus, Ogston will be traveling back and forth to make sure the school stays true to the vision and the effectiveness model they have.
“We're just opening one school in the fall to make sure we get it right and we're going to be opening up the other five... We will probably open two schools next year and maybe three the third year to make sure... we're serving students appropriately and effectively.”
Ogston said they are not planning to expand in Yuma due to the lack of necessary philanthropic support for charter schools they have seen in Arizona.
“I didn't start with the desire to scale up and start making a national presence, but Carpe Diem has been very effective and successful. We're very unique in the kind of blended learning environment that we have here and it has caught national attention. We now have states literally asking us to replicate it in those various other places.”
He said that places like Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas and Washington, D.C., have all expressed interest to implement Carpe Diem charter schools.
“It's been rather exciting to see and to try to help continue the conversation regarding digital learning. We've been pioneers in digital learning having done it now for eight years, and a lot of people are getting on the bandwagon now and trying to do this.”
He noted that although he is happy with the national interest in switching to digital learning, he wants to make sure people are not overwhelming students with gadgets and gizmos.
“I'm concerned that what they're trying to do is throw a lot of technology at kids without understanding the pedagogy behind it and therefore they will have spent a lot of money and have had very little effect or very little result that they're looking for. That's why I go out and speak and share about Carpe Diem. I don't claim to be an expert I just have a lot of experience ... if it's possible to mess it up, I've done that. We want to share the good bad and the ugly of digital learning and how it can be effective and successful.”
Visit www.lurfilms.com/work.php?vid_id=74 to watch a video about how Carpe Diem functions.
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.