Internet-Based Summer Program Proves Successful At American Heritage School
Learning never stops at American Heritage School. As soon as the final eight weeks of distance learning came to a close at the end of May, the private, college preparatory school didn’t miss a beat. Beginning June 1, it launched a new Heritage Online summer education program with 116 live and interactive classes offered to students in PK3 through the 12th grade open to students throughout the U.S. and abroad.
“We started this program because we wanted to help students around the country and across the globe who were not happy with the distance learning that their schools provided,” American Heritage School President Dr. Douglas Laurie said.
The Heritage Online courses are designed for students of average to gifted intelligence and provide reinforcement to get on track or enrichment to get ahead. Also available are one-on-one, virtual tutoring by AHS teachers, an international program, and core courses for credit, grade improvement and grade replacement.
Students are learning from the best teachers in the education industry. All are experts in their fields and are the same certified instructors with advanced degrees who teach in the AHS classrooms throughout the school year. The Heritage Online course catalog is unmatched; it offers a wide variety of courses to suit any student’s passion and interest. “There is no other brick-and-mortar school offering the depth and breadth of classes being offered by American Heritage School’s Online Summer Program,” Laurie said.
Prominent businessman Brian Tuffin was the lead teacher of one of the most popular summer program courses, Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “We are endeavoring to set new standards of education and growth for the students, to create an ever-growing group of leaders,” said Tuffin, a Harvard Business School graduate and CEO of Fuse Science.
He instilled the fundamentals of business and finance in young entrepreneurs throughout his three-week intensive class. Among the students in Tuffin’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation class was Nicola Grayling’s son, Billy. The 10th-grader had a business idea he had been thinking about for a while and hoped the course would be a great way to learn more and see if his idea had legs. “Billy loves the course and said it’s the best one he has taken since being at Heritage,” his mother said, adding that her son would much rather take summer classes online than in a traditional classroom.
Today’s generation of students is innately skilled in technology. Therefore, logging in to Google Meet at 8 a.m. for four hours each Monday through Friday, and utilizing the online breakout groups with 24-hour access to student business teams proved to be more popular than traditional class breakouts. According to Tuffin, 100 percent of the class is an open forum discussion, even in the breakout groups. Students are required to read the material and proactively advance the development of their businesses each day. “Students embraced the online learning setting,” he said. “Based on feedback we received from the surveys, we nailed it!”
The transition to online teaching was flawless, according to Dr. Carlos Pulido, a 25-year veteran AHS teacher, a key player in developing the school’s pre-med program who is also a trained physician and former trauma surgeon.
“We are a well-prepared team of dedicated faculty with only the best technical support staff for online resources and teaching tools, so we can continue to do our magic through a digital platform, enabling the students to keep getting the superb quality of education that we offer at American Heritage,” Pulido said.
Marina Woodbury took the Medical Terminology class to get a good foundation for college. She will be entering the 12th grade in the fall and wants to be a veterinarian one day. “The teacher was super funny and knew how to make the class fun, even at eight in the morning,” she said. “Now I know what almost every medical term means, along with the roots, suffixes and prefixes.”
Students tend to excel during online summer learning. According to Dr. Diana Sood, teacher of Embryology and Medical Terminology, students understand and retain the material more than if they were taking six classes at once. “The video is always on during class, so I can see their facial expressions. Are they yawning or confused or smiling or heads nodding? I will ask questions, so they have to be engaged. I will talk and explain and always do a question-and-answer to see how well they are retaining,” said Sood, who has worked as an orthopedic surgery coordinator, educator and researcher.
This is Sood’s sixth year teaching pre-medical classes and honors biology at American Heritage. The ideal online learning student is tech-savvy, shows up to class on time, uploads assignments and tests without reminders, and has exemplary academic integrity. “These are the most important traits, since a teacher is not in the same room,” Pulido explained.
As part of the school’s Prepping for Kindergarten course, the students logged in to Google Meet every morning from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and were active participants in the class. Teacher Lauren Kramer is a 20-year veteran teacher with a master’s degree and a “Teacher of the Year” award to her name. She is all about hands-on experiences. In other words, she sings with her students, dresses up as characters and goes on letter scavenger hunts — all virtually during her online class. “My students love the online learning setting, and they are eager to please,” she said.
One kindergarten mother said she saw more growth in her child during the summer online class than in the months prior to starting distance learning at American Heritage.
Another parent of elementary students in fourth and fifth grades shared how the online summer courses were the perfect way to augment her sons’ previous schoolwork and prepare for the fall. According to Jesica McLane, the small class sizes were a critical factor because this allowed the teachers to focus on each student. The computer skills her children acquired were also a great by-product of virtual learning. “We would choose to enroll again next summer,” McLane said. “It is a fun way for the kids to keep up/catch up in a low-pressure environment.”
Luckily for the McLane family, and for the many other families who had enriching educational experiences, the Heritage Online Summer Program will be available again next summer. Additionally, the school will continue to offer one-on-one virtual tutoring throughout the year, since the program became so popular in the new environment of virtual education.
“For students who wanted to advance their academic skill set, the Heritage Online program also offered courses to assist with producing higher potential SAT scores and AP scores, as well as opening students’ schedules for other courses they would like to take in the fall,” Laurie said.
He was pleased with the results of his school’s first summer online program. “In this age of uncertainty, these students will be going into their respective schools far more prepared than they would have otherwise because of the education they received from American Heritage School,” Laurie said.
The American Heritage School is located at 6200 Linton Blvd., just east of Jog Road, in Delray Beach. For more information, call (561) 495-7272 or visit www.ahschool.com.