I enjoyed visiting with Principal Steve Constantino, his staff, and students this week at RISE Academy for Adult Achievement. RISE is our District’s school for adult learners to earn their high school diploma, high school equivalency, take English Language classes, Adult Basic Education classes, and more. I saw firsthand that RISE staff have both the expertise and passion to guide their students through education that may have been intimidating for them, as some of these students have been out of school for quite some time. RISE also offers its students additional flexibility in learning, through distance education and evening classes in an 8-week course structure as many of the students have families, jobs, and other responsibilities that may make dedicating time to school challenging. I learned that RISE recently started to provide child care for evening classes helping parents overcome this barrier so that they can work on their academic goals. It is evident that these students are dedicated and are working hard.
RISE truly does provide and innovative and personalized learning environment for its students. Not only do they offer courses at different times throughout the day and week, they also provide classrooms in four locations throughout our community. This is impressive since they had nearly 1,500 students enrolled this year. Technology is purposefully integrated into all lessons, and students at RISE work on laptops, IPads, PCs, and iMacs to ensure they are prepared for college and careers.
I especially enjoyed visiting with students and staff in their classrooms. In every class I visited, I encountered students that were focused and working hard. All of the students were preparing for their end of quarter exams and I truly appreciated their intensity and grit.
Shelly Bergam was teaching oral fluency to students working in groups. I also met a retired teacher who was tutoring a student in the classroom. Students in Devin Ballard’s math class were working on equations on the whiteboard and discussing the solutions. Andy Milldrum’s large Government class was doing work on their computers to prepare for an upcoming exam. I enjoyed talking to the class about my visit to their school. In Steve Givani’s math class, the students were reviewing materials and taking a practice test in preparation for the upcoming exam. They were asking questions and working on understanding the concepts. All of the students in Chris Blush’s Critic of Society class were writing argumentative papers on their computers. Janelle Maddox and her math students were learning geometry. I had fun talking to this classroom as we discussed important issues facing education and our state right now. We talked about their role in the legislative process and some of their thoughts about current affairs. I met Ciarra Proulx as her Tech Integrated English students were working on an assignment on their computers. She told me about what her students were working on. I enjoyed her enthusiasm and know that students benefit from her love of teaching.
I am proud that our District offers RISE as a tuition-free, flexible school for adults to feel welcomed and supported as they work to complete their high school education. I really appreciate the hard work of the educators at RISE who work in various locations and at various times to accommodate our adult learners. Their work is inspirational. Thank you to Principal Constantino and his team for hosting me and sharing all of the wonderful work they are accomplishing. I am very excited for their upcoming graduation ceremony!