Online School for Girls puts focus on connection, collaboration

Jul 22, 2014 by

Much to English teacher Ed Raines’ surprise, his students had never heard Puccini’s soaring melodies that inspired David Henry Hwang’s “M. Butterfly,” nor the way Louis Armstrong could make a trumpet talk in Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.”

In the middle of a faculty meeting at Westridge School in Pasadena, he passed his colleague, a music teacher, a note. “What if we could build an entire curriculum based on pairing music and English together?” recalled Leo Kitajima, the music instructor who had visited Raines’ classroom to discuss musical references in literature.

Last year, the teachers found a way to make their dream course a reality when Westridge became part of Online School for Girls, a nonprofit consortium of independent schools dedicated to educating girls. It’s grown to include more than 80 schools that will offer about 1,050 enrollments this year to middle and high school students.

As educators, we need to decide where we fit in that landscape. I felt like it was time to ante in or we were going to fall behind. – Director of Westridge’s Upper School Margaret Shoemaker

Paid by the online school, Raines and Kitajima built the course on their own time. Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition: The Music of Literature will be offered for the first time this fall.

Westridge is one of eight schools in Los Angeles County offering the online classes. The others are Marlborough School, the Archer School for Girls, Campbell Hall, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, Louisville High School, Marymount High School and Yeshiva of Los Angeles Girls High School. To join, schools pay a one-time fee that’s adjusted according to their size, and some help students pay tuition, which costs $1,419.75. Students outside the consortium can take the classes by paying a fee of $1,577.50.

The schools say that the cost is worth it and that they chose the 5-year-old Online School for Girls over other online options because it shares the same philosophies in teaching girls through creativity, practical lessons and by building bonds.

via Online School for Girls puts focus on connection, collaboration – LA Times.

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