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Have It Your Way

posted Feb 24, 2020, 12:07 PM by Brenda Williams
For nearly 40 years Burger King had the slogan “Have It Your Way” as a reminder to customers of their desire to make every burger to the specifications of each person’s preference. Starbucks has revolutionized the coffee industry by creating a beverage experience catering to the unique demands of each customer. In the early 1900’s you could get a Ford Model T in any color you wanted, as long it was black. Now, customers can order their car online and specify endless options to customize their ride. Each year, new barriers are broken. Where once there were no options, now businesses are catering to consumer demands to “Have It Your Way.”

Education is not immune to the demands of consumers. Colleges were the first to identify the competition of for-profit colleges that offered a degree that could be earned entirely from the comfort of your living room without the need to travel to a college campus. As colleges have adapted and online offerings have become more the norm, this has pushed high schools to adapt to the reality that students can complete courses online and with PSEO options. Students no longer need to have transportation to campus to access these classes.

We are seeing an increased demand to cater to the individual needs of students and families. For an institution built in an era when students had no other option for schooling other than coming to a building, all our structures and practices are based on face to face interactions with students. This is still the best form of instruction, as it allows for the most effective adaptations and individual support for all learners.

All things change with time and at PLHS we have been responding to these pressures from parents and students to create more flexible options for students to achieve their learning goals. While we do have limitations, we are looking to create more flexibility and options for students while maintaining the same rigor students would experience in the classroom. We have added Advanced Placement options, College in the Schools options, blended online learning options, and developed trades academies that provide students with the opportunity to gain college credits or specific skills not available in the school 15 years ago.

In the future, schools will continue to change. At PLHS we see this as an opportunity to provide families with more options that fit their unique needs. It may become possible to see learning become year round, students progressing through grade levels based on their readiness for learning, students attending classes in multiple sites, and the learning day become 24 hours in length. Whether good or bad, these changes reflect the nature of a consumer-driven economy that demands more flexibility and opportunity than in the past. It is quite possible that the image of a learning institution built with bricks and mortar will someday be a laptop and a video chat.

-- Aaron Nelson, High School Principal