Last updated: September 06. 2013 8:15PM - 82 Views

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MELISSA MACKEY

Staff Writer

Leslie Collins said she was disappointed in her daughter’s education last year in the Olentangy school district.

Enter OASIS (Olentangy Academy: Supporting Individualized Success) a student-centered educational program for those students and parents seeking an alternative to the traditional school setting.

After enrolling in Oasis this year both mother and daughter, Rebecca Collins, an Orange Middle School seventh-grader, report they are pleased with the results.

Rebecca, 12, told the school board this week that she wants to be a doctor or scientist someday and was almost moved from the district last year when Olentangy’s academic program proved not rigorous enough for her.

Thanks to OASIS, however, Rebecca is now taking ninth-grade honors classes that allow her to remain eligible to participate in school and extracurricular activities, since all OASIS students are assigned to a “home school.”

“Becca can accelerate and excel,” Leslie Collins told the school board during a presentation on the OASIS program this week. “We are extremely pleased. It’s imperative that parents have an option,” she said.

The OASIS program operates out of a pole barn behind Olentangy Shanahan Middle School on Shanahan Road. It started last year with just two students and has since grown to 56 students, said Jennifer Blakley, OASIS curriculum supervisor.

“It really has grown exponentially and come together in such a fabulous way,” Blakley said.

Maura Hoover, a transfer student from Worthington Schools, is a ninth-grader at Olentangy High School (OHS). Her mother heard about the program and enrolled Maura in it.

“I can work at my own pace and my grades are so much better than they have ever been. It’s a small-school environment,” said Maura, who takes two classes at OHS in the morning, followed by classes at OASIS, then another two classes at OHS in the afternoon. She said she doesn’t feel lost among the students as she did in a larger school environment. She also has been able to help the younger students in OASIS, which isn’t typically an experience most high-schoolers have in a large district, she said.

Substitutes in math and science from the Central Ohio Educational Service Center (COESC) intervention specialists, counseling support personnel from Central Ohio Mental Health and school-community liaisons are all being utilized, Blakley said.

Blakley said OASIS has resulting in the district winning back 12 “community school students,“ otherwise known as home-based and distance learning students. The program has also eliminated 21 of the 36 alternative education seats from the COESC. All this comes at a savings of $268,194 for the district, she said.

In the future, Blakley hopes to continue to reduce the number of COESC alternative education seats, work on a marketing plan for OASIS and explore more virtual learning options, she said.

“We do want to keep the brightest kids in the buildings, but we don’t want to hold those students back,” Superintendent Wade Lucas said.

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