Ever since ODE Upper School’s inception its role was that of more stricter learning for students in grades 7th through 12th. Then out of nowhere it was changed to ODE Academy. Ever since then it’s been the topic of some of the biggest questions of the ODE 2019-2020 school year: What is ODE Academy, why did they change it from Upper School, why is it better, and what’s the difference?
Right off the bat, the name. Why did they change the name? Ms. Jenny Ginter, ODE Director, mentioned to her students on the first day of her new Journalism class that she and other teachers believed that this name made more sense because it sounded more orderly, as if the name told parents that this was stricter learning.
During that same class, Ms. Ginter remarked,
“ODE Academy is what many of the ODE teachers had envisioned for the original ODE Upperschool.” Sadly many of the original teachers who supported this have left in the past few years. The only staff member who was here from the first years of ODE is Ms. Ginter who at the time was co-director. Why is it better? Well according to the ODE description page, “Children in elementary learn at such widely different rates and in so many different ways, and do not have the independence to make their educational choices for themselves. Young adults in high school, although they may attack their workloads in different manners, need to function independently, and work within the perimeters laid out for them, taking the responsibility on for themselves.”
What does this mean? To put it simply, children in elementary have to learn a lot of different things then in Academy they can zero in on what they really want to learn. What’s different with the schedule? Well students take three classes that are an hour long each , and then two classes that are an hour and a half long. From what I’ve gathered the two classes that are an hour long are more learning based. The first hour long classes are more creativity based. Classes like P.E. and Art don’t have as much of a strict curriculum as ones like Literature, U.S. Geography, or Speech and Debate. However, that still doesn’t answer why it is better. In some of the students I asked opinions it ranged from the changes in the schedule to the inclusion of P.E. Luckily I (or rather the Director) have the answers. Earlier this week I was able to catch ODE Director Jenny Ginter in an interview. The first question I asked was what was the original vision of ODE Academy. She had this to say, “The original vision of One Day Enrichment when it was founded 14 years ago was primarily to engage students in an educational and useful setting while the homeschooling parent took some time to tend to other things. It was originally just for the elementary grades. Our classes were group oriented, and focused on classes and areas that were not usually tackled in the course of a homeschool day at home. We knew and trusted that the basics were being taught and learned at home according to the homeschooling philosophy of the parent. By the end of the very first session we already added our preschool program in a further effort to help moms (and dads) get this time away from their homeschooling duties. It took a little more time to add the upper school, and this happened gradually as our elementary students graduated to junior high and beyond. For the first year or two Elizabeth York taught all the classes in upper school. The upper school portion of ODE has continued to grow until now it accounts for almost half of our students. We have grown to several teachers and we have added all kinds of classes that range from choir to Chemistry with a lab, alternating years. We are very excited about this growth and the need that it fills within our homeschool community.
However, it became clear that our goals and vision for upper school needed to differ from that of our preschool and elementary. It was brought to my attention by the staff that we needed to do something to differentiate our upper school from our “enrichment” approach that we take in elementary. Upper school students are farther along in the journey towards adulthood and we love to watch them mature into thoughtful, independent, motivated young people. To that end, we realized we need to require a commitment from our students to do their best in the classes, to commit to doing all the required work, to reach out for help when things are unclear. We already had implemented an online grading system which spoke to our students’ needs to make every class count towards a credit that could be placed on a transcript. Not only did we need to make those kinds of changes for our students, but we needed to actually change the name to communicate to prospective and current students and families that attend our program (the Academy) requires commitment and purpose on their part – it is no longer enrichment and a time off for mom, where homework is optional if the family desires and time allows.” The second biggest question I had was, “What prompted you to change it this year.” She said, “The change came this year in response to teachers’ need to require a standard within each class to decrease the problem of students who are around to kill time and hold back the progress of everyone involved.” This led right into my next question of how much support she got when she told the staff. “Because the idea of naming upper school ODE Academy came from the staff, they were 100% in agreement and looking forward to the possibilities and future ahead,” she replied. My final question was what are the real changes between ODE Academy and Upper School. Her reply was, “The only real difference is what we are communicating. Elizabeth York has already established ODE as an AP test center. We have offered multiple AP classes over the years which the students have taken at OPRF. Brandon Fenner, Cindy Miller, Tara Clark, and of course Elizabeth York have taught classes that culminated in AP testing, and now we are an approved test center. We have offered Biology and Chemistry with a lab alternately for many years. We have added our online grading system, Thinkwave. But with this change in name, we hope to communicate the level of academic standard that we provide and expect in our ODE Academy.” And that is why ODE Academy is different and possibly better than ODE Upperschool