Fusion Academy Takes the One on One Approach to Learning
Joanna Gagis looks into a new one-on-one style of education that’s gaining ground at Fusion Academy. The school’s regional managing director, Jennifer Walsh-Rurak, talks to Joanna about why their method is bringing back the joy of learning for students.
"Welcome to Life & Living. I'm Joanna Gagis. Imagine a classroom setting where each student has a one on one interaction with their teacher all day long. Imagine no more. That school is Fusion. And I'm joined right now by Jennifer Walsh-Rurak, who is the regional managing director of Fusion Academy. Welcome. Thank you. Thanks for having me. Describe this setting that you have at Fusion, where students are working one on one with teachers all day long. Fusion is a very revolutionary school. We're a private school. We work with kids in 6th through 12th grade. And every class at a Fusion school, there are 40 now across the country, offers one to one instruction. So regardless if a student is taking a math class, and English class, an elective, or a world language, all instruction includes one teacher and one child in every classroom. How many students in total are at the school? A school can range between 60 and 80 students typically. So 60 to 80 teachers? 60 to 80 teachers, and however, some of our students are in class one on one with a teacher, and another segment of our population would be in what we call our homework cafe space. So for every hour a student spends in a class one on one with a teacher, they spend an hour in our homework cafe, which is really the social hub of the campus. So during the one to one instructional time, they're very focused academically, and then during their homework time, they're in more of a study hall setting, where they're socially engaged and have opportunities to work collaboratively with their peers. Where did this idea come from? That students would do well if they were working one on one? As opposed to the classroom setting that many of us who went to a private or public school, are used to? Absolutely. So over 28 years ago, our founder, Michelle Rose Gilman, kind of found herself in a circumstance where she needed to work with some students one to one. And she saw that... the power of that academic model. She was able to fill gaps in prior learning. Sometimes students come to us and just because they're signed up for a 9th grade algebra class does not mean that they're ready for a 9th grade algebra class. So there could be some skills that are lacking from subsequent courses. That would have been me. [laughter] And many of us. I already know that would have been me. Alright so this is an opportunity for us, one to one, to identify the gaps in learning, and then to take the time to teach to mastery, rather than just pushing ahead with..."