There weren’t just normal first day jitters for the students at
Silicon Valley Flex in Morgan Hill on Tuesday, it was the first day
for everyone at Morgan Hill’s newest charter school.
There weren’t just normal first day jitters for the students at Silicon Valley Flex in Morgan Hill on Tuesday, it was the first day for everyone at Morgan Hill’s newest charter school.
Located on W. Main Avenue at its temporary location at the Community Church, nearly 200 students from San Jose to Hollister and their parents arrived before 7:45 a.m. amid welcome balloons.
Flex Academy is different than other schools, said Head of School Jean Southland. Not only is it a public school not affiliated with the Morgan Hill Unified School District, but it also combines an online K12 curriculum with offline lessons and breakout sessions with smaller groups of 10 to 15 students. The school employs four English, science, math and history teachers, and four academic coaches – those who will coach students in breakout sessions from math problems to essay writing. With 130 electives offered for their high school students, there are also additional virtual online teachers.
They also have a full time guidance counselor, Mark Hennessey, for support outside the classroom, said Southland.
“It is a small school, but the staff is going to make your learning entirely different environment. It is a place where you can get your problems solved,” she said to students in a welcome address. “Whether you’ve been successful, or not been so successful, today is a new day for you. It starts today.”
Like most other schools in the area, parents gathered outside before school taking pictures and giving their children some last encouraging words before their first day.
For mother Kathy West, Flex Academy was just the answer they were seeking for their son Zachery, 11.
“There really isn’t an alternative for a school here in Morgan Hill,” said West, whose son attended El Toro Elementary prior to Flex. “He would have gone to Martin Murphy next year and there was just no way he was going to Martin Murphy.”
Kathy and friend Marieke Ruys whose son Piter De Vries is starting 6th grade with Zachery, both visited the San Francisco Flex Academy – a high school – with their children. They wanted to see the education in action before making a decision about the Silicon Valley Flex, which includes both middle and high school.
“My husband has been wishing for this type of school for many years,” said Ruys. “I like it just because kids can go at their own tempo.”
In fact, high schooler Ashlinn Amituanai, 15, will be going into her sophomore year at Flex after a year in San Jose’s public Silver Creek High School.
“For preschool and elementary school, I went to private school. So I want to try something different,” she said. “For 9th grade, I went to public school. And it just didn’t work. I didn’t like the people, the environment was really rough.”
Amituanai took matters into her own hands when she searched online and found Flex. Her mother, she said, was skeptical at first because she wanted her daughter to remain at Silver Creek where she had graduated herself. After learning more about it, she signed her up and told Amituanai she would drive her as long as she was committed and would arrive early.
“The computer section really interested me because it’s the way of the future. Everything is technologically based,” said Amituanai.
De Vries, 11, also thinks computers will be good for him in school.
“I’m excited, but more nervous than excited,” he said. “Sure, I’m pretty good (at computers). I’m not on them all the time. I used to, but I started forgetting about computers because I have other things to think about.”
Hayley Romero, 11, who stood with her backpack on ready to go with her father Blaire by her side before school started, will enter the 7th grade this year at Flex.
“I like that we get to learn differently,” she said.
“For us, it was just one of those new ways of learning and another option for high school,” said Blaire Romero. “I think she’s going to adapt to it easily.”
Romero’s mother Noreen was out helping to direct traffic in bright orange safety vests, part of the group of parents that is organizing carpools, help to serving lunch and organizing sports for Flex students.
SV Flex Academy will have its first graduating class of eight seniors this year, a total of nearly 80 high school students. The first few days will be dedicated to assessment tests, ice breakers and making sure all students know how to use the computer programs.
Flex has closed its middle school enrollment at 115 students, although its high school enrollment is currently still open. Flex Academy plans to open at its new permanent location near Cochrane Plaza in the end of December.