BROKEN ARROW -- It was a little more than a year ago that Broken Arrow High School began its Inspire 21 online education program.
With few courses and even fewer students enrolled, Digital Learning Coordinator Linda Ricks admits it was humble beginnings.
"Last summer was when we began the birth of Inspire 21, and through that we had zero students," Ricks said. "We started off small; we started off offering just a couple courses. We had small group of students."
But within a few months those numbers doubled.
"Word has begun to spread about what a great program this is, great opportunities for students."
Broken Arrow now offers more than 400 courses to nearly 250 students.
Rachel Tatro, a senior at BAHS, is among those enrolled. She first gave the program a try during her junior year.
"I took online English for my junior year and loved it. It was awesome," she said.
This year, she is enrolled in English 12 and Marine Biology.
"I'm just overjoyed cause it makes life so much easier," Tatro said.
Tatro uses that time to put a few more hours on the clock for her part-time job. Senior Caleb Cline says Inspire 21 allows him to invest more time in his extracurricular activities. He is member of the
"Inspire gives me enough time to where I can either do it at home, or do it fifth hour when I need to. And then there are some days when I can sit back and relax," Cline said.
Ricks says the program is called Inspire 21 because it is learning for the 21st Century.
"Kids in this age are digital… They live on their cell phones they live on their computers. As education is evolving this is a great way to bring kids into their world.
"This is a nice bridge where they get used to that online component and at the same time have that direct instruction and support from Broken Arrow High School staff."
Inspire 21 gives students what Ricks calls a blended learning experience.
"They get support; they get feedback; they get supplemental teaching from their instructors so they have both the classroom experience as well as the virtual experience."
Tatro said she is also getting real-world experience.
"It is up to me as a student to get my assignments done." She said. "I don't have a teacher that is right there all the time, saying ‘Hey, get off you phone. This is due."
"For me, that has helped me to be able say this is what college is going to be like and I can do that, because I've done it for two years."