How Flexible Learning Can Help Your Child Thrive

A new blended learning school offers a high-quality, flexible learning environment for your child, no matter where you live in Michigan.

Parents want their children’s school to help them learn, grow and thrive. But each student is unique, and the traditional classroom environment doesn’t meet the needs of every student. Some families need a flexible learning environment while still enjoying the benefits of attending a public school. Some need a culturally responsive approach to learning. Others want to earn a high school diploma while fulfilling obligations to their families and jobs.

Now, families in metro Detroit and across Michigan have educational flexibility at a new charter public school called Global Education Excellence (GEE) Compass Academy. The school is authorized by Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office and will launch in time for the 2023-2024 school year. GEE Compass Academy offers an online and blended learning experience for K-12 students across Michigan.

GEE Compass Academy builds on GEE’s proven learning programs that combine online learning with access to unique learning centers for one-on-one support and tutoring. As the school grows, more learning centers will be established in Michigan communities. The GEE network operates several schools in metro Detroit, including Global Heights Academy in Dearborn.

“GEE started blended learning programs in 2017, and we saw how much families loved it due to the flexibility, the quality of education and the safety and security provided through the program,” explains Amal Issa, Director of Operations for Blended Learning at GEE. “A lot of students wanted to enroll in the Detroit and Dearborn areas, and we wanted to extend the opportunity to every student in Michigan.”

Online education through GEE Compass Academy appeals to families who want and need choice in when and how they learn. Students may have anxiety or health issues that keep them from being in a classroom with other students, or they may want an education that respects their cultural needs in specific environments. They may have transportation barriers or have experienced bullying in school environments. Or, they may prefer a homeschool education that still offers a high-quality, standards-based curriculum.

flexible-learning-students-in-classroom-watching-presentation
Photo credit: GEE Compass Academy

The program’s flexibility is a key benefit for families, says Shawn Robson, GEE’s Executive Director. 

“We offer an individualized approach to learning, and we have students at many different levels. We are not a traditional cyber school where students are numbers. We know our students and their parents, their interests and their hobbies, and we want our students to have success. We hope students who start with us will graduate with us, then go on to college or trade school or Major League Baseball or the Olympics or whatever it may be. The limits are endless,” Robson says.

How blended learning works

Traditional classroom learning is synchronous, which means all students learn the same subjects at the same time. GEE Compass Academy offers a blend of synchronous connections with teachers and mentors with asynchronous learning that can happen at any time of the day.

“We follow the processes of a typical school and our students are placed on a learning pathway based on their assessments and previous history. This will guide whether they are required to have Zoom sessions with their teacher or mentor,” explains Robson. English language learners, for example, are required to have face-to-face hours and may mix asynchronous learning with time in the brick-and-mortar learning center.

“When students are a grade level or two behind, that’s when true tutoring happens both online and in our learning centers. And, high-achieving students find they can work at their own pace, even take honors and AP classes to suit their learning needs,” Robson says.

“That mix of everything means we are able to offer a concierge educational experience to our families,” he says.

Age-appropriate, flexible learning

Elementary students at GEE Compass Academy meet every day with their teachers and receive mini-lessons through their online platform, then gather in small groups online with the support of their teacher, mentor, ELL teacher or special education teacher. Students are not required to work on their computers for extended periods of time, says Robson. 

Young students, in particular, require a learning coach at home who can guide and keep students on task. “We tell parents that for students who are younger than third grade, online learning without someone at home supporting them won’t be successful,” Issa says. “They need a learning coach at home. This can be a mom or dad, aunt or uncle, grandparent or other adult.”

Small online classrooms — with a certified teacher and paraprofessional for a class of 18 students — allow for individualized support and better learning results. 

flexible-learning-students-engaging-with-reptiles
Photo credit: GEE Compass Academy

Older students who are more independent and invested in their own learning require less supervision from a learning coach at home. “At this stage, students are on a more independent learning pathway. They’re completing their courses and their mentors are monitoring and providing support when needed,” Robson explains.

While online learning doesn’t work for every student, it can be a perfect solution for students who want a customized experience and the flexibility to engage with learning in a way that suits their lifestyle or family circumstances. 

“Any student who wants one-on-one attention with a flexible learning environment can be a GEE Compass Academy student,” says Issa.

Community-focused, accredited and safe

What makes GEE Compass Academy unique is its investment in the communities it serves.

“We don’t come up with a program and then make the community adapt. Our blended learning programs look different based on the community, and we have room for flexibility to meet students’ needs,” Issa explains. “We like for our students to see fellow students and teachers who know their culture, who look like them and who speak their language.”

That’s why GEE Compass Academy hires staff from within the communities it serves. By working with bilingual staff who speak Arabic, Spanish or Bengali, students learn more effectively and families feel more comfortable and invested in their child’s education. 

Through robust online security, parents can be confident their students are safe online — and are engaging with certified teachers and a quality curriculum at an accredited school. 

“We have layers of assessments, not just quizzes, but discussion-based assessments. Teachers can have conversations with their students about their courses to ensure they are mastering the content. I’m not sure other online schools do that,” says Robson.

“It’s a memorable experience for us. We graduated 100 students from our blended learning program this year and we packed a Dearborn auditorium. This is something we want to provide to the entire state of Michigan. We are passionate about the individual and small group learning we can provide and we want to accomplish this here in Michigan with GEE Compass Academy.”

Learn more about GEE Compass Academy and GVSU Charter Schools Office. Visit gvsu.edu/cso.

Find more articles like this at Metro Parent’s Guide to Michigan Charter Schools. 

This post was originally published in 2023 and is updated regularly. 

Claire Charlton
Claire Charlton
An enthusiastic storyteller, Claire Charlton focuses on delivering top client service as a content editor for Metro Parent. In her 20+ years of experience, she has written extensively on a variety of topics and is keen on new tech and podcast hosting. Claire has two grown kids and loves to read, run, camp, cycle and travel.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

LATEST STORIES

See the Warren Consolidated Schools 2024-2025 Academic Calendar

Find all the important dates on the Warren Consolidated Schools Academic Calendar.

Fun and Accessible Barrier-Free Playgrounds in Metro Detroit

These barrier-free playgrounds in metro Detroit offer kids with disabilities a fun and safe place to play.

Discover the Most Fun Playgrounds in Royal Oak

Explore Royal Oak’s best playgrounds, perfect for family outings with fun climbing structures, swings and more for kids of all ages.

PHOTOS: Share Your Halloween Family Photos with Us

Share your best Halloween photos with us and enter for a chance to win a $50 gift card!



- Advertisement -