The forced shift to virtual instruction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic left schools across the nation scrambling to effectively deliver instruction to students of all ages and needs. Suddenly, parents were forced to take on the roles of teachers or facilitators, and everyone – students, parents, and teachers-had to adjust to online learning. For Hawaii Technology Academy (HTA), a tuition-free, WASC accredited, DOE charter school serving more than 1,200 students across the Hawaii islands, the crisis presented a unique opportunity to showcase its extensive experience with virtual instruction.
HTA has operated as a blended learning school (face-to-face, virtual, and independent instruction) for more than twelve years. This unique approach allowed the school to easily transition to a fully virtual setting. More importantly, it allowed students to remain connected to their teachers and continue their academic progress. HTA offers a five-day-a-week program that incorporates in-classroom learning, virtual/independent instruction, and a special “field studies” day where students engage in experiential learning. This educational model not only prepares parents to become learning coaches from the very start, but also allows them to be highly involved in their child’s education, benefitting from ongoing support from a certified teacher.
Most notably, HTA thrives on a curriculum designed around the five Core Values of Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication, Creativity, and Character. Students are encouraged to embody these values both inside and outside of the classroom. In fact, HTA is well-known for their project-based and experiential learning academic approach, furnishing students with real-life work experiences through internships and apprenticeships. HTA’s programs allow students to apply both academic and technical skills, enhancing their college and career readiness.
Despite challenging circumstances, HTA has been able to continue to serve their students amidst a global crisis and when it became evident that the shift to fully virtual instruction would not be short-term, HTA quickly stepped up to help their educational community. For the first time ever, HTA has launched a virtual Summer School program open to all middle and high school Hawai’i students. Courses are offered for both credit recovery and credit advancement. Their goal is to deliver high-quality instruction while fostering strong teacher-student relationships, for both HTA students and the broader community, by also offering virtual learning training workshops to fellow educators in an effort to ease anxiety and create a positive attitude around online teaching. The unprecedented crisis of COVID-19 has confirmed one truth: virtual learning will have an important place in the future of education.
Hawaii Technology Academy has campuses on Maui, Hawaii Island, Kauai, and Oahu. Maui is accepting students in grades 2-12. Please visit www.myhta.org to learn more.
Image Credit: Hawaii Technology Academy