RUMFORD — During a late arrival Wednesday at Mountain Valley High School, staff watched a brief video called "Lori’s Day." Lori is a 14-year-old student at a school that does mass customized learning.
Principal Matt Gilbert challenged staff members to look for “What do we currently do at MVHS that resembles Lori's day? What could we do before the end of the year that would make MVHS more like Lori's high school?”
Lori is interested in pop music, math and technology. She attends Lincoln Unlimited Learning Center and creates her own schedule of gymnastic practice, seminars and independent learning. But the first step to get to customized learning was the community did a future-focused planning session.
“About three years ago, RSU 10 did a future search planning session,” Gilbert said. “Members of the community, business leaders, parents, teachers and students were involved in looking at our communities and our future.”
According to Lori, “MCL works well for my friends and me. We go through the learner outcomes at our own pace and most of the graduates of LULC are well ahead of those who graduated from the old program that moved everyone along at the same pace.”
MVHS graduates one or two students each year who complete their high school requirements in less than four years. Additional students take college courses while still in high school. For example, Jeremie DeTellis completed two courses at Harvard over the summer.
“Learner outcomes are similar to the Maine Learning Results or the Common Core standards,” Gilbert said. “While we’ve used Maine Learning Results for years, it is time to refine what we do.”
“We have online registration for classes,” Gilbert continued. “Each spring during student-led conferences, the student, parents and homeroom teacher work together to plan the next year’s courses.”
MVHS students already have access to some online courses through Plato for credit recovery, Khan Academy for improving math skills and Virtual High School or AP for All for enrichment.
Access to technology is key to Lori’s success, “Everyone at LULC has a laptop and access to the Internet of course.”
“We’ve had one-to-one laptops at MVHS for many years,” Gilbert said. “Students use their laptops in school for a wide range of activities and most take them home.”
Gilbert continued, “In addition to the laptops, we have an electronic student information system, known as PowerSchool. Students, parents, teachers and administrators can access student schedules, grades and other information easily.”
Not all of Lori’s learning opportunities happen within the walls of LULC.
“We have a lot of people in the area who have a lot of expertise to offer,” Gilbert said. “People in the River Valley have always been generous in helping our kids. I’m sure that we can find mentors for students who want to learn more than we currently offer.”
At the conclusion of the video, MVHS staff agreed the next step is to clarify learner outcomes that fit the needs of students and the future of the communities where they live.
Gilbert concluded, “Some of that work has been done by the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning. But we have to make sure the learner outcomes are right for us and our future.”
To watch the video, go to YouTube and search for Lori’s Schedule, www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdCHvLSR_Iw.