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January 2, 2014

Shining the spotlight on education

New school to present free documentary screening next week

(Continued)

“Kids today — high school kids — their schedules are just packed,” said Soracco, who is also a swimming and triathlon coach. “It’s more of a life perspective than an educational perspective. It’s not just a school film, it’s life.”

Balancing school with outside interests is one of the main goals of Learning Outpost, which will offer personalized instruction.

“It’s another option for high school in Newburyport,” Ameen said. “The model comes from the idea of self-directed learning and having more control over your curriculum.”

Ameen decided to home-school her two daughters in 2003, when the youngest, Rachel, was in the first grade. She found that the process really changed her whole family’s lifestyle — “in a good way.” She will bring her experiences to the new school, which she will start in her Newburyport home with hopes to expand in the near future.

“There are a lot of kids who don’t fit the mold,” Ameen said. “I plan on offering more experiential learning. It’s an unusual model.”

Ameen is an advocate of the “flipped classroom” concept, where students listen to or watch lectures at their own pace at home instead of at school. Time with teachers and peers focuses on discussion and problem solving.

“I think that’s a really productive way to learn,” she said.

Curriculums will be tailored to each student’s personal goals, whether that’s attending a four-year college, starting a business or pursuing an athletic career. One student already signed up for the school is an elite gymnast, so her academic schedule will fit around that, instead of the other way around.

Ameen hopes to get the community involved, as well. For example, if one teenager likes to work on cars, he or she can take lessons from an expert car restorer.

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