Great mentor relationships drive student success

Announcing Exciting Program Updates for 2018-2019

At Williamsburg Learning, we work hard to improve our program to better serve you. We are always seeking ways to enhance the experience students have at our schools and the results that our program produces. With this in mind, we are excited to announce our 2018–19 Program Updates. This year, we will be focusing on driving improvements in the following key areas:

Enhancing the Student-Mentor Relationship

In 2018–19, most of the training our mentors receive will revolve around forming authentic and meaningful connections with students. This is already one of the most unique and valuable aspects of our program, and we are committed to strengthening it through our professional development this year. We are also making the following updates:

  1. Class size and mentor-student ratio. Last fall, WL schools experienced unanticipated growth that required us to increase some class sizes and the ratio of mentors to students. This year we are hiring more mentors and returning class caps to normal. Our intent is to liberate mentors to focus more time on individual students.
  2. More strategic mentor / TA grading. Over 50% of teachers in K-12 education burn out after five years, including many of the best teachers. One key way our program retains talented teachers (we have an industry leading 95% retention rate) is providing TA assistance. We have noticed, however, that in some cases over the past year this has reduced the quality of feedback provided to students. This year we are implementing a new strategy to identify which types of assignments need deep and meaningful feedback—which must be provided by a mentor, and which can be effectively graded by TAs. We are determined to find a balance that both ensures students receive high-quality feedback and avoids burnout for our fantastic mentors.

Strengthening Student Performance in Math

Our students are outperforming their peers in many academic areas and are well prepared for college and careers. However, we are not yet satisfied with our performance in math. While math is the most frequently failed class in high school and college around the country, we believe that our students are capable of excelling in math, and that learning to excel in math builds our students’ confidence and strengthens key life skills such as logic and reasoning. We are therefore making a long-term commitment to help our students become exceptional performers in math. Here are some of the key improvements we are making this year in our math program:

  1. Math courses are now four days a week, Monday through Thursday. Research shows that students make better gains in math when they practice math daily. We recognize that this is a departure from most of our other live courses, which are offered only twice weekly, and feel that math deserves this additional emphasis.
  2. Math class will include small-group tutoring twice a week. Out of four weekly math classes, two will be mentor-led instructional sessions and two will be tutor-led workshops. In the workshops, students will break into small groups of 8–12 to work on math assignments and receive tutoring. The math tutor lab will also still be available to students.

Launching Cutting-Edge New Technology Courses

We are replacing some of our tech courses, including Python programming and Web development, with higher-quality offerings we have discovered from other providers. We are also offering a few additional courses beginning this fall, including:

  • 3D Design and Animation
  • 3D Printing and Design
  • Game Programming with JavaScript
  • Game Design and Development
  • Java Programming with Minecraft
  • Sound and Audio Engineering
  • Become a Digital Artist
  • Digital Media Editing and Graphic Design

Last but not least, we are also working on…

Concurrent enrollment. We are working on agreements with select universities in Nevada and Utah and hope to offer some concurrent enrollment courses beginning Fall, 2018. We will keep you posted on developments!

Simplifying and improving middle school leadership courses. We’re eliminating some projects, and clarifying and unifying the principles covered throughout the program.

Few things are more important to caring parents than the education of their children. Our mission is to help your child become a principled leader who is prepared to thrive in the 21st century. We are truly thankful and honored that you have invited us on to your family’s educational team, and we are confident these changes will make 2018-19 the best year yet for your students.

Cheers,

James Ure

President, Williamsburg Learning

 

April 6, 2018