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Cole Dries playing air hockey, Dr. Jessica Poumele and Drew Chapman

OUSD Now Offering ‘Non-Traditional Education’ as Alternative to Charter Schools

Oceanside CA— In an effort to stem the flow of students to charter schools and provide them with more flexible ways to get an education, the Oceanside Unified School District has come up with a unique new program to meet the needs of students. Simply titled ‘Non-Traditional Education’, the program offers a blending of traditional schooling and independent study with teachers and online academic courses.

“We wanted to offer an alternative to the charter school experience, what ever that may be,” explained Dr. Jessica Poumele, Principal at the Clair Burgener Learning Center, 707 Carey Road, the main campus for the program. “We decided to meet the students and families where they are. Meaning, students can come in every day for two, three or four hours a day or they can come in once a week or even Skype us. As long as we are getting their work and they are progressing through their classes, then we’re good.” continued Dr. Poumele, “We have all kinds of support to offer. Whatever the student and the family needs.”

The program began last July during the 2016-2017 school year and was available to middle school through 12th-grade students. “We are really excited about the upcoming school year when the independent study program, with support, will be available to students from TK through 12th grade,” said Dr. Poumele.  TK stands for transitional kindergarten which is for children who turn five between September 2 and December 2. The TK-5th grade Non-Traditional Education program will be opening at Ditmar Elementary School in August. Representatives from school districts around California and from out-of-state have visited the school to learn more about implementing a program like OUSD’s in their districts.

When the program began in July, it was a very different program. “Students would come to school every day for two hours a day. We have completely changed that and now we meet the student where they are because every student’s educational needs are different,” said Dr. Poumele. “We have a very flexible staff and the teachers here are the best of the best from the district.”  The teachers were chosen for their multi-tasking skills and their ability to relate to students. “It’s all about relationships when it comes down to it.” Dr. Poumele said.

Outdoor courtyard

The staff has created a learning environment that is more in-line with a college campus. Students are allowed to study anywhere in the building that features a large outdoor courtyard in the center and the ‘Internet Café’. “We allow students to be anywhere they can get their work done,” said the Principal. “We expect students to be responsible, make good decisions and do the work. It has really worked out well.” Use of cell phones at the school isn’t a problem. “We have everything on our phones now, calendars, calculators, dictionaries, why not use them but again, we expect the students to be responsible.”

The Internet Cafe

In the Internet Café, students can do their work while standing on balance boards or exercise their minds along with their body on the stair steppers and enjoy a healthy snack from the vending machines. The centerpiece of the Internet Café is the Air Hockey table. Dr. Poumele is known for her Air Hockey expertise. “It is a great stress reliever for students and I find it to be a great tool for me to interact and engage with a student. The interaction for conversation is much better than two people sitting at a desk,” said Dr. Poumele.

Dr. Poumele’s interaction with the students isn’t limited to the school grounds. If a student isn’t keeping up with their work, Dr. Poumele will make a home visit and work with the student and their family to help figure out the problem.

Everything that is available at a traditional school is available in the Non-Traditional Education program including physical education, fine arts, performing arts, languages along with math science and history.

Enrolling in the program involves a meeting with a counselor, teacher, parent, and student to create an Independent Study contract that best meets the needs of the student.

To learn more about Non-Traditional Education visit oside.k12.ca.us or call (760)901-7170