High Tech Los Angeles, an independent charter high school in Lake Balboa, was recognized last week as the top California charter high school in a report from the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. The report ranked approximately 1,000 schools based on academic performance and financial health using data from 2005 to 2012.
Los Angeles has 241 charter schools, making it the city with the greatest number of charters in California.
“We are just over the moon about this!” said school Principal Marsha Rybin. Rybin was the founding principal of the school, which became an independent charter school in 2008. She attributed the success to her hardworking staff. One all-star is 12-year veteran teacher Kathy Goodman.
Kathy Goodman has taught at High Tech Los Angeles for 10 years.
Goodman, who teaches English, described the faculty as a tight-knit community focused on getting students ready for college. Teachers collaborate on academics and informally discuss students’ needs on a daily basis. “There are not a lot of closed doors here,” Goodman said.
The school serves just under 400 students, and Goodman noted that the small size allows adults to support students in a very personal way. She said that when all of the teachers know all of the students, “it makes a difference because you can’t run away.” Students are held accountable for their actions and feel supported by the adults in the building.
The academic program at the school noticeably infuses technology, as all students have a school-issued laptop. The school engages students with an online platform called Moodle that allows teachers to post content for student use, collect assignments, and track academic success. The use of technology supports project-based learning, in which students engage with real world challenges that require them to integrate content knowledge with 21st century skills.
For example, last year Goodman and her colleague Mat McClenahan developed an interdisciplinary English and Economics project modeled after the television show “Shark Tank.” On the show entrepreneurs pitch ideas to investors, hoping to convince them to invest. Similarly, students came up with business plans and presented them to real investors from companies like Merrill Lynch and Bain. By connecting classroom learning to the community, students become deeply invested in their work and benefit academically.
Though extremely proud of the accolades from USC, Goodman emphasized that a school can always improve to serve its students better. Perhaps it is this attitude of continual improvement that drives the schools success.
Congratulations, High Tech Los Angeles! For more information about the school, please visit their website at www.ht-la.org.