By Cait Etherington
Published by eLearningInside.com - 10/9/2017
Part One of a Three-Part Series on Stanford Online High School
There was once a perception that online high schools can’t replace the “real thing”—namely, a quality face-to-face classroom experience. In 2017, this perception is finally shifting, and Stanford Online High School (Stanford OHS) is one of the online secondary schools driving this change. Thanks to its now established track-record and the currency it naturally has due to its affiliation with Stanford University, Stanford OHS continues to prove that an online high school experience can be even more rigorous and engaging than the type of education students typically receive in face-to-face school environments.
Building a Great School without Brick and Mortar
Current Head of School, Dr. Tomohiro Hoshi, has been with Stanford OHS since 2008. “When I first arrived, I was a graduate student in philosophy at Stanford and finishing my doctorate. I was asked to develop a curriculum in philosophy, but I was very interested in the idea of the school and later joined as a teacher.” Hoshi, who had previously taught high school in Japan, wasn’t entirely new to secondary level teaching but at the time, he was new to teaching online.
Since Hoshi arrived, only two years into the school’s existence, Stanford OHS has grown significantly. “Between 2010 and 2015, we were growing 10 to 20 percent each year,” he reports. While the school’s numbers have been relatively stable since Hoshi took over as Head of School in 2015 (the school now provides an online secondary education to approximately 750 students each year), he emphasizes that the school continues to grow in other ways. “One of our current goals is to focus more on diversity—in terms of faculty and also in terms of student recruitment. For this reason, we are looking to get more financial support to expand financial aid, but we are also thinking about the different types of support that a more diverse student body might need to be successful in an online high school.”
Hoshi notes that in recent years, the school has also begun to pay more attention to student advising and student wellness initiatives, which include courses on adolescent development. Dr. Tracy Michelle Steele, the Director of Counseling at Stanford OHS, has found, “Sometimes the types of gifted and talented students attracted to our school are intellectually advanced but not necessarily socially or emotionally advanced, so strong advising can be especially important in this type of school.”