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School Desk Blog: Never Let Schooling Interfere with Your Education

Novelist and science writer, Grant Allen, originally turned the phrase that was later attributed to Mark Twain, writing: “Never let schooling interfere with your education.”

Perhaps this could be the mission statement of Alternative Education. Ukiah Unified School District (UUSD) recognizes that, while the traditional classroom setting is a great place for most students, alternative options are important for many students who need a different approach. To that end, the district has worked hard to create and continually improve alternative options for students and families.

One such option is the Ukiah Independent Study Academy (UISA), a K-12 school designed to provide a personalized, flexible approach to education. UISA’s diverse profile includes students who have a need or desire to work in the community, students who need to travel, aspiring artists, athletes, and performers. It also provides a calm atmosphere for those who thrive in a small campus setting with individualized attention.

For 9th through 12th-grade students looking for an alternative path to earn their high school diploma, UISA offers the chance to graduate while attending school from home while a student works a part-time job, attends community college, or helps their family. UISA is a great place for these older students who desire to work at their own pace or accelerate their learning, take college courses, or make up missing high school credits.

UISA is also a great option for families who value the opportunity to homeschool their children, but want to take advantage of guidance from a certificated teacher and have the added option for their child to participate in UUSD athletics and extracurricular activities.

This year also marks the launch of our brand-new middle college program, Ukiah High School at Mendocino College. There are 28 middle college high school programs on college campuses in California, and 75,000 students in 28 states attending early college high schools. Students from these schools show an increased success rate in completing a college degree after high school.

In this partnership between Ukiah High School and Mendocino College, students take core high school classes with two Ukiah High School teachers in a classroom located on the Mendocino College campus. Students also take actual college courses to meet A-G college entrance and high school graduation requirements, which can reduce the number of years spent in college as well as out-of-pocket expenses. It is a supportive, academically challenging environment for high ability youth at risk of not meeting their full academic potential in a traditional high school setting and/or at risk of not transitioning well to a college setting.

Students in the program have academic support, social support and mentoring designed just for them, including peer support, a Ukiah High School counselor, and a Mendocino College counselor. Both counselors work with each student to design a personal education plan to pursue a college degree and take courses to build skills or earn vocational certifications.

The middle college program emphasizes team teaching, individualized attention, and the development of critical thinking skills and academic writing skills for college success. We are now accepting applications from current 9th-grade students for admission as 10th-grade students next year (30 student maximum).

It is our vision at Ukiah Unified School District to see every student reach their full academic and personal potential by helping students and families find the educational option that works best for them. While there are openings at UISA and the middle college now, enrollment is limited in each of these exciting alternative options, so we urge parents to contact the district right away if one of these programs sounds like a good fit for their child.

For more information, call or email Scott Paulin at 707.472.5062 / spaulin@uusd.net.