Summer school all ACCESS

Published 9:53 pm Wednesday, June 24, 2009

There are 50 students at Charles Henderson High School’s summer school this year, but of those, there are very few studying the same subject.

“We’ve got kids probably taking 25 different things,” said CHHS Principal David Helms.

But, Helms doesn’t have 25 different Charles Henderson teachers in the classroom — in fact, he probably only has about two.

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It’s through the ACCESS (Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators and Students Statewide), or distance-learning program, this type of learning is possible.

“The advantage is we can access any subject,” Helms said.

This is CHHS’s second year completely using the ACCESS program to facilitate summer school.

Through it, students are taught by real teachers, but they could be from anywhere across the state, and their entire summer courses are completed online.

Helms said using the program enables students to take almost any subject they may need to, where otherwise the school would not be able to make available in the summer.

“The reason we think it’s the best way to do it is because we can accommodate for almost any subject or elective a student needs,” Helms said. “Whereas, we would not be able to do that if we had to have a teacher for each class.”

At the same time, though, Helms said lack of physical teacher presence is a disadvantage to the program.

“The only disadvantage is you don’t have a teacher right in front of you,” Helms said.

The ACCESS program is used by the school throughout the year. With it, Helms said teachers have the capability to send and receive live video feed of class lectures, though during summer school they do not use this.

Helms said summer classes go from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and students stay different amount of times depending on their course requirements.

The programs are six week programs, done in classrooms with program facilitators.

The course work is not light, Helms said, which encourages summer school students to stay on top.

“If you’re a summer school student, you’re behind, but you have to be a little more self-motivated,” Helms said. “There’s no room for absences or anything like that.”