On August 10th, 2020 NEXT High School got back to school for the 20-21 school year. But in an ongoing global pandemic, what does it mean to get "back to school"? Is that even the right frame of mind to adopt, when nothing around us seems "back to normal"?
No, for NEXT High School, a new school year has always been about moving forward—not back to the way we've done things in the past, but forward to our next steps. We founded NHS in 2015 with the idea that moving quickly and adapting to feedback would be the only way to create a school that always moves ahead.
So while NEXT High School is facing the same constraints and challenges that every school in our nation and state are also facing, our disposition is positive: this can—and will—be one of our strongest years yet. The teachers (our Pros) and students (our Peers) who have shown up in this unusual time are ready to take on the challenges, and create our future—not despair over the past.
So—what does that mean, exactly? NEXT High School launched 2020 with two enrollment tracks: a 100% Virtual Program, and a Hybrid Program. Let's do a quick dive:
(1) Our brand-new 100% Virtual Program allows students to work from home—using either a NEXT High School-issued Chromebook or their own devices—while enrolled in classes with their Peers on campus at NHS. They have access to the same Pros, the same course offerings, and the same opportunity to be involved in a (virtual) Advisory.
The 100% Virtual Program allows families to choose an option that is right for them during the COVID-19 pandemic—especially if students or family members are at high risk for the disease, or have challenges around work, transportation, and child care.
However, this model is also an opportunity to welcome students who may have been interested in NEXT High School but have other limitations regardless of the pandemic (transportation, sibling care at home, mobility, etc.). Because NEXT High School holds a statewide charter, we can enroll students from anywhere in South Carolina. We're very excited to be able to grow our NHS family and reach more Peers with our Project-Based Learning and small-school environment.
(2) Our Hybrid Program is the best of both worlds: Peers are able to interact with each other and their Pros on campus in a socially-distant environment, but also have opportunities to work from home without getting behind on their online days.
Is this hybrid model the high school experience we're used to? Is it the one we would have chosen? No. But the beauty of adaptation and growth is that we don't have to know all the answers in advance (we never will); we just have to be ready to create the solution that moves us forward.
Both the Virtual Program and Hybrid Program are clearly opportunities to fulfill our mission—to prepare young people for life after school. Out in the real world, we're seeing companies large and small adapt to the changes and challenges of 2020. This includes more work from home options for employees, increasing video conferencing and remote meetings, and using more online resources than ever. The landscape is changing; and only those who can adapt will thrive.
NEXT High School's Virtual and Hybrid Programs are not stop-gap solutions to "get over" the current crisis so we can go back to "normal." No, we are looking forward—to the best ways we can serve the most students to prepare them to co-create the new normal that waits for them after graduation. We're committed to looking forward year, after year, after year.
We're so excited for those who are looking forward with us.