Puyallup Digital Learning connects with students
Puyallup Digital Learning connects with students
Posted on 01/30/2019
Puyallup Digital Learning connects with students

When the doors opened in 2013-14, there were 19 students registered. The goal was to help students be successful by providing a learning environment that meets their needs. Since then, Puyallup Digital Learning has served hundreds of students.

The growth of PDL and the impact on students’ lives is a story of success. It has filled a gap that allows those who are not able to complete high school to have a second chance, students who have circumstances or special needs that interfere with traditional school to have another option, and a choice for students who want to advance their learning and possibly graduate early.

Puyallup Digital LearningRecognizing that students have different learning styles, educational goals, and individual needs that vary widely, PDL staff work to connect with each student. They may be working towards high school graduation, participating in running start, completing their GED, or partnering with Clover Park or other community colleges.

Some students attend traditional high schools and Digital Learning at the same time. Others have left school for various reasons and have found they are limited in the job market without a diploma or GED. Some have their own families and jobs and the flexibility of PDL allows them to continue their education. Students attend labs, hybrid courses, study, and test at PDL, and they have the option to study offsite.

Puyallup Digital Learning
Puyallup Digital Learning is a part of the Puyallup School District and is a fully accredited online school. Located at 716 South Hill Park Drive, Suite B, it includes Puyallup Open Doors and Puyallup Online Academy.

The Puyallup Parent Partnership Program (P4), relocated to Zeiger Elementary this year, is also supported through Puyallup Digital Learning. P4 works to partner with parents/guardian to serve students K-8th grade at home.

Learning environment enhancements
Things are a little different at the Puyallup Digital Learning campus this year. The environment is more welcoming, designed to enhance student learning needs, and program changes provide more engagement with other peers and staff members.   

The goal is an environment where students feel welcome to return. “We hold our kids accountable, and we show them we care,” says Director of Digital Learning and the Puyallup Parent Partnership Program Adriana Julian.

Changes this year provide more opportunities for different learning styles and skills. For example, some students have anxiety and require a quiet environment. “One size doesn’t fit all. Students decide where they want to be,” says Julian.

•  Classrooms are designed to meet learning styles, and students may decide which classroom environment 
   meets their needs. There is an English Language Acquisition lab which serves as a quiet room for studying
   and testing, a more casual enrichment room that hosts many of the hybrid classes, a STEM Lab for math
   and science help, a World Café with background music and food that hosts our social studies teachers and
   a community room where parents and students can visit their coaches and receive one on one help.
•  The new classrooms are a hybrid of sorts, according to Julian, where students spend time online and time
   learning in a classroom setting with a teacher. “Online learning is not for everyone, and it’s not easy. Best
   practices in K-12 online learning tells us that hybrid classes are the best way to engage and promote
   student success,” says Julian.
•  A tech center allows each student to check out a laptop for home and classroom use. The center assists
   students with technical needs, and they can call from home if they have issues.
•  Each student is assigned a success coach who reaches out to each student weekly. They focus on
   attendance, behavior, and courses.
•  This year there are enrichment classes and clubs available, including art and a LGBTQ club. Activities,
   such as games and puzzles where food is provided, create an educational environment that includes social
   interaction and a sense of belonging.
•  Latino services are available with the community coordinator Angela Arteaga who can help with
   translation, navigating the school system, and community resources, if needed.
•  There are Mommy and Me classes for young mothers. A baby pantry is onsite, and young parents can
   bring their baby a few times a week. “It’s another way of providing support and keeping the students here
   to continue learning,” says Julian.
 

Resources
The PDL staff includes dedicated teachers, paraeducators, counselors, and support staff who have vast experience and roles.

Puyallup Digital Learning
Certificated teachers oversee the programs, and on-site counselors meet with new students and parents to assist in assessing current transcripts and scheduling classes. Students are required to attend an orientation and do a math and reading placement exam. The teaching staff includes math, English, social studies, science, and special education teachers. There are more than
100 courses offered, including core, elective, advanced placement (AP), diagnostic, interventions, and credit retrieval.

Each student has a coach who contacts them weekly by phone, text, or in person. “This allows us to support those who need face-to-face time but also have to work and take care of their family,” says Julian.

One of the coaches works districtwide with each of the Puyallup schools. If a student has not attended school for an extended length of time, the coach receives a message and will contact the student in an attempt to reengage them back into school.

Meetings take place with community members, staff, students, and parents for open communication and to help provide services to students. For example, a Latino roundtable is ongoing to facilitate discussions with families to help them support students who attend school.

Puyallup Open Doors
Open Doors is a dropout recovery or reengagement program open to students 16–21 years of age. Open Doors students are credit deficient and may have dropped out of school before coming to Puyallup Digital Learning. Students can earn a Puyallup School District diploma or prepare for GED testing. Student are required to attend on site two days a week for a minimum of six hours.

Puyallup Online Academy
POA offers both hybrid and 100% online courses. Some students split time between a traditional high school and the Online Academy.

Students are required to have weekly contact with an onsite teacher and coach. Attendance is taken, and if a student can’t attend, they have to contact the Online Academy. It supports students in grades 6-12. Attendance on site is a minimum of one day a week for 2 hours.

Puyallup Parent Partnership Program
The Puyallup Parent Partnership Program serves families where the parent/guardian is the primary teacher. Support is provided by a certificated teacher to help create a student's learning plan as well as monitor weekly and monthly progress. Curriculum is provided and students may choose to take onsite classes one day a week at P4 or attend their local school. P4 is available for students Kindergarten through 8th grade.

Eliminating barriers
The PDL staff continually look for ways to eliminate barriers to help students reach their educational goals. This can include home visits, help with transportation, providing technology, and serving meals. They have rolling enrollment and will accept students at any time during the school year. Students outside of the Puyallup School District boundaries can do a choice transfer.

They serve Advanced Placement (AP) students, college in high school, special needs students, English Language Learners (ELL), students with credit deficiencies, students with challenges such as homelessness and students looking to graduate early.   

Visit the Puyallup Digital Learning website for more information.