“The first thing that struck us was the flexibility. Teachers are willing to do whatever students need.”
No! Students are expected to attend every class, every day.
However, RPA offers flexible schedules so our students can take advantage of outside learning experiences such as music classes, sports, part-time jobs, volunteering, and internships (and earn credit for these, if they choose). RPA students are not penalized when they need to miss class. It is part of their responsibility to manage their time. But we do emphasize that attending class is a necessary part of their learning process. In addition, we do ask students to respect their teachers expectations and to email or text their instructors if they are unable to attend class for any reason.
Here’s a scenario to explain how this works. At RPA (as on a college campus), students may have a class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 am to 10 am, then have a break from 10 am to noon, and another two classes at 12 pm and 1 pm. In between classes, students have opportunities to study in a lab, small group, or tucked away at a local coffee shop. They may grab a bite to eat, take a walk, or consult an instructor about a sticky point in class. They may go to Centennial Park to get some fresh air or to the skate park to get some exercise.
Many students also have jobs, volunteer, or do internships during their “off time.” Not only does this help them understand the demands of the adult world, they can also earn credit for these real-life experiences.
Starting in their freshman year, RPA teaches students to use their free time productively. Choice and consequences are important lessons learned early on, helping them build a foundation for a successful and balanced academic life in high school and beyond.