Independent Learning Academy

File 000 19Our Philosophy - Personalized, Collaborative, Student-Driven Learning

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education”
 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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The function and philosophy of the Independent Learning Academy is to develop independent learners who think critically, communicate effectively, and seek knowledge actively. This development stems from key focal points of the ILA: educational focus (learning vs. credits), culture of the classroom (student choice and desire to accomplish goals), educator focus (teachers who focus on teaching skills over content), and soft skills (punctuality, respect for oneself and others, self-motivation, pride in one’s work). These are the skills necessary for success in the world post high school.


In the world of education, “soft skills” are the skills that aren’t measured by tests. Students’ grades and success are determined by their ability to memorize information and perform academic skills like writing essays or reading graphs. We don’t believe that academic ability alone determines success. In the workforce, employers look for talents such as setting and achieving goals, managing time, showing initiative, working in teams, being on time, and working through difficult problems without giving up.

These “soft skills” are not emphasized in a regular classroom. Students in the ILA will need to develop these skills in order to succeed and will have plenty of opportunities to practice them.  We form strong mentoring relationships with students so that we can coach them both in academics and in the skills we know they will need to face the world after graduation.

The Ability to Learn on One's Own 
Learning does not end with graduation. It is impossible to teach a student everything he or she needs to know in today’s world. A wide number of professional careers require continuing education. Lawyers, doctors, engineers, pilots - even cosmetologists - are required to continue their training and education after getting a license and employment. Additionally, anybody who decides to change careers later in life will face a mountain of studying to become successful.

Our goal is to teach students how to teach themselves. We help students develop a self-awareness of how they learn best. We equip them with a toolbox of study strategies that they know work for them. We give them practice in attempting new subjects on their own. Students will learn how to form groups with their peers that will help them succeed.

Students will not only learn how to push themselves in their own learning, they will also learn how to overcome setbacks and failure, which naturally come whenever pushing to be better. Our students will be more resilient in the face of unexpected problems and unfamiliar situations, preparing them to face future challenges of lifelong learning.

Using Passions, Interests, and Talents to Aid Learning 
We have all experienced trying something we are not good at.  It is frustrating, and if you are being graded, it can feel like all of your other talents are being unfairly ignored as you flounder in one difficult subject. In life, a person’s talent for building on their strengths to bolster against their weaknesses is an important part of being strong and resilient.

Students in the ILA are encouraged to bring all of their talents and interests together as they learn. A student that struggles in science but excels in music or art is encouraged to use those talents in learning. Instead of limiting a student to multiple choice tests or essays, they can write songs, paint murals, or choose any other medium they are confident in to help them demonstrate their learning.

As much as it is possible, we also encourage students to pursue their interests while practicing skills. Instead of assigning a topic for writing essays, we let students choose a subject they are interested in. That way they can engage in something they are passionate about while mastering the skill of writing.

Learn at One’s Own Pace 
Every student is different. They have different strengths and talents and learn in different ways and at different paces. Not only that, but an individual student may learn one subject faster or slower than another subject. We all know that our own ability to learn can also vary widely from one day to the next.

With this in mind, we give students the opportunity to learn without the time restrictions of a regular classroom. They can push ahead in a subject they are passionate about or talented in. They can take extra time with a subject they need more practice on. They won’t get frustrated because they can’t keep up with an artificial pace set by the school calendar, or stalled by a class that is not moving as fast as they are able.

Should you have questions or would like additional information, please feel free to reach out and contact our  Academy faculty: Mr. Ronnie Lawhead or Mr. Jared Kempton.

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