The school district in Lansing, Michigan works with student’s schedules to provide flexibility amongst internships, home responsibilities, and extracurricular activities. At Eastern Highschool announcements ring through the speakers as the afternoon hours begin to set in. Instructor Dee Halstead helps coordinate Easter Flex Academy, a program where select students attend school from 3 PM to 8 PM.
The program serves multiple purposes. The school building wanted to make use of its structure during off-hours while also tailoring to student’s needs in the modern world. We’re seeing a step away from the common practice toward schooling based on a 19th-century approach. Experimenting with how a school system could work in the digital age of the 21st century provides flexibility to structure life with more freedom. This is especially true for students who deal with high levels of stress as they step into the demands of adulthood.
“Here, I don’t really have to worry about socializing or being performative,” she says. “I can just stay chill, do my work. It’s easier.”
While some school systems offer after-hour programs for adults earning their GED, the Easter Flex approach works parallel to their daytime classes. It keeps students on the same peer level as well as solidifying the sense of community even if the schedules are different.
“That gives me great comfort in knowing that they aren’t getting lost because they’re part of the school,” Monika Kincheloe, senior director with America’s Promise Alliance says. “So when the school reports a graduation rate or a testing outcome, it’s going to include those young people in the evening classes. And that’s a good thing.”
Students are a busy breed. Balancing social, emotional, and intellectual needs is part of the learning experience for this age. Having this flexibility allows students to prioritize and base their schedule from a place of ease—and not to mention, the option of catching up with their rest.
“I’m able to sleep in as long as I need to, so I always get like a good night’s rest,” says junior Jerome Tiel. “I’m able to just do more things with my day. I feel like this is one of the best changes in my life.”
His father chimes in “Before he was failing class here and there and his top grades would be in the C or B range, and now he’s getting A’s. Also, he was having some behavioral issues as well, and those have decreased quite a bit.”
While starting the school day at a later hour might not be the preferred option for early-risers, the opportunity to choose provides students with a schedule that works best for their individual needs. We’re seeing this in the way people structure their lives whether that be as remote workers, entrepreneurs, or alternative living. These new additions and implementations work with the idea that there is no right or wrong way to live.
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