Imagine your child in an AP Human Human Geography course with students from China, Rwanda, and California. Imagine them having access to a wider variety of course options and the flexibility to pursue time-intensive passions, while remaining connected to a greater community of teachers and classmates. This type of global education is now a reality for many students through GAC’s online educational platform: Ethos School.
The unique benefit and advantage to an Ethos education is clear: Flexibility. It provides the academic rigor needed for collegiate success, while simultaneously allowing students the flexibility and time to pursue other co-curriculars. It also connects students to a larger global community, expanding their perspective and worldview. And with Ethos classrooms now serving students in the Northeast to Oregan to Rwanda, Ethos is rapidly expanding.
“We have students who attend GAC in person for half the day and then go pursue their extracurriculars the other half all while still receiving a full high school education because of the flexibility of Ethos,” said Ethos Academic Dean Derek Wilson.
In its second year, Ethos grew 500% from 30 students to 250+ students and from 5 partner schools to 22 partner schools across the globe. The school currently offers 60+ classes and is projected to eventually have the entire GAC curriculum online.
“We expect this to continue growing exponentially for the foreseeable future; a need exists in the market for quality, faith-based, online education, and we’re quickly becoming the choice provider of parents and schools,” said Ethos Executive Director Dr. Josh Thomason.
In today’s world, more families seek greater flexibility in their children’s academic experience. And in the past, it was often challenging to find an online school that provided the flexibility with the same level of rigor and personal connection as the traditional classroom.
“Seeing this growing trend and the tradeoff, we resolved to provide parents with an option that allowed for the flexibility they desired, while meeting the quality requirements of the GAC face-to-face experience,” said Dr. Thomason.
From the start, the Ethos leadership team committed to providing an online experience that preserved the personal connection and maintained the rigorous integrity of the GAC classroom. With that in mind, they worked to transform the transactional online school model into a thriving relational model.
“Education at its heart is a formational event, and that can’t happen without a relationship. So we wanted to increase those student-teacher connections in the online environment,” said Mr. Wilson.
It’s the time, effort, and intentionality towards that relationship-centric model that makes the difference when comparing Ethos to other online schools.
“People are formed through their interactions and those engagements and relationships are built personally so that’s where you start to get the value, and that’s how you rescue online education from being a waste of time or a diploma mill,” said Ethos Latin and Greek teacher Dr. Paul Cable.
“Our goal was to preserve the spark from person-to-person in the classroom. So we designed online courses in such a way that allowed students to be synchronous with the classroom through interactive videos and activities,” said Dr. Cable.
According to the students enrolled in the school, that is exactly what they’re experiencing. Ethos allows students not only the freedom to learn at their pace and on their time, but also the ability to connect with faculty and students at GAC and around the world.
“Ethos provided me with the opportunity to take AP Physics 1, a class I couldn’t have taken with a traditional schedule. I was apprehensive at first, but I don’t think my experience with an online class could’ve been any better. The Ethos software is very easy and accessible, making even the most challenging tasks less scary. My class only consists of 3 students, so I get a lot of one-on-one attention from my teacher, Mr. Yancey. I am in direct communication with him and we get to have group video calls once a week (which is cool because he lives in Ecuador). One of the students in my class doesn’t even live in Georgia, so it’s been nice to meet new people from different schools...Ethos really was a surprise to me, I would recommend it to anyone interested,” said GAC Senior and Head Prefect Johnny Meshramkar.
And, to date, our students in the online environment are currently meeting the same achievement standards as our face-to-face students.
“Research suggests that online, adaptive learning environments can outperform traditional face-to-face settings. Based on research and the demand for digital skills in the workplace, education systems are moving toward more online options. Top tier colleges are leading the trend by offering Higher educational degrees via an online platform. We are preparing students for college and their future careers by offering rigorous online courses. We have been very pleased with high success rates matching those of face-to-face classrooms,” says Director of Academics Dr. Betty Morris
The future of Ethos is bright, as it benefits students and teachers alike. Ethos allows teachers to offer a challenging, diversified, and individualized plan of study for students here and abroad.
“Ethos works for us at GAC because it is designed to place the passions, interests, schedules, and learning of students first. And, Ethos allows us to take those same values and offer them to students all across the world within our Ethos Partner School Network,” said High School Social Science PLC chair Dr. Robert Lindsay.
Ethos School offers its faculty flexibility, focus, and innovation, with the opportunity to teach students from around the country and around the world.
“Ethos’ dedication to personalized communication and synchronized class sessions preserves face-to-face contact, and the Ethos LMS allows for excellent teacher feedback and powerful learning module creation,” said Creative Writing teacher Dr. Brad Denton.
“GAC gets to further its mission in those frontiers and avenues. Our classes are good, and we want everyone to get in on them,” said Dr. Cable.
Based on the quality of GAC’s classes and faculty, it’s no wonder why the Ethos School is such a remarkable success. It’s innovative platform changes students’ lives and opens doors for them that would have otherwise been closed. And as the current landscape of high school education evolves, GAC will continue to be on the frontlines of innovation through creating vibrant learning environments that truly work best for the global educational community.
Through the Ethos School, GAC looks forward to furthering its mission and continuing serving students in the best possible way at GAC and beyond.