Excellence in Education

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We are shining a spotlight on two remarkable individuals who have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to ASU Prep. Allow us to introduce Eric Roth, math marvel and esteemed 2023 Teacher of the Year, and Allison Voltaire, exemplary elementary principal and 2023 Staff Member of the Year. They both embody the spirit of excellence, innovation, and unwavering commitment to student success that defines ASU Prep.

Meet Teacher of the Year: Eric Roth

In the realm of education, there are teachers who leave an indelible mark on their students and inspire them to reach for the stars. Eric Roth, a middle school math teacher at ASU Prep Digital, is one such educator. Since joining the ASU Prep team in the fall of 2020, Mr. Roth has made a profound impact on his students and the school community, earning him the well-deserved title of Teacher of the Year.

Mr. Roth explains what led him to a career in teaching math. “My parents and grandparents always told me if I set my mind to it, I could accomplish anything. I also had several professors during my undergraduate program that supported me. What better way to give back then do the same for others.” Prior to joining ASU Prep Digital, Mr. Roth dedicated more than a decade to teaching math at Coconino High School in Flagstaff, Arizona. During these years, he also demonstrated impressive versatility and commitment by working as a special education teacher for pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade during the summer, and grades 9–12 during the school year.

What sets Mr. Roth apart is his meticulous attention to detail, exceptional communication skills, and his innate ability to make each student feel special. He creates a welcoming classroom environment where every student is valued and encouraged to strive for academic and personal growth. His knack for pinpointing each student’s strengths and providing any necessary support has had a positive impact on their overall success. He instills confidence in his students, showing them that they are capable of accomplishing anything they set their minds to. Mr. Roth says, “Acknowledging the small things students do add up: participating in the live lessons, attending help sessions just to say hello, or sending me a text message to let me know what is going on in their lives. Pointing out these behaviors and thanking students for doing such things helps build a rapport with them.”

Mr. Roth appreciates the opportunity to interact with students from different parts of the state, country, and even the world. This diverse interaction is something he cherishes, as it gives him the opportunity to facilitate learning among students from various backgrounds.

Another aspect he enjoys is seeing students lift one another up. “There are many times during a live lesson or help session that students compliment each other. Whether it be a new haircut, a shirt they are wearing, or an answer they gave to a question, these are the moments that I enjoy most and I make it a point to show how proud I am when these behaviors are displayed. The care and concern they have for each other really displays how awesome our middle school marvels are.”

Mr. Roth’s hero, Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch woman revered for helping many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust, reflects his own values of selflessness, service, and faith.

An Ohio native, currently residing in Flagstaff, Mr. Roth spends his free time embracing the beautiful terrain and scenery of Northern Arizona. He enjoys biking, running, and hiking. Mr. Roth’s well-rounded character and dedication have rightfully earned him the title of ASU Prep’s 2023 Teacher of the Year.

Meet Staff Member of the Year: Allison Voltaire

Allison Voltaire, ASU Prep Digital Elementary Principal, began her teaching journey as a 6th grade teacher before transitioning to virtual roles in middle school math, 4th Grade, and 5th Grade. Her passion for leadership led her to earning a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and another in Curriculum and Instruction: Technology for Educators, and ultimately to ASU Prep in 2020.

Living on the Space Coast of Florida with her husband and two children, Ms. Voltaire manages her role virtually, valuing each interaction with ASU Prep stakeholders as an opportunity to reinforce her commitment to the school community. At the heart of Ms. Voltaire’s leadership approach is communication and teamwork. She explains, “We call this the tripod effect when a student, parent or home educator, and the teacher/Learning Success Coach work together as an academic team to support each student.” This approach centers the student and fosters engagement, motivation, and dedication within the school community, creating a vibrant learning environment.

Ms. Voltaire’s vision aligns with ASU Prep Academy’s promise to help students “Prep for college. Prep for careers. Prep for life.” She prioritizes academic excellence alongside the development of critical thinking, problem-solving, and socialization skills. Embracing the digital nature of the school, she equips students with digital literacy and technology fluency, enabling them to confidently navigate digital tools and platforms for effective learning.

By fostering a personalized learning environment, Ms. Voltaire encourages students to take ownership of their education, setting goals, and embracing self-directed learning. She also aims to cultivate global awareness and cultural competence, preparing students to become responsible global citizens. “By appreciating diversity, demonstrating empathy, and understanding different cultures, our students will be better prepared to become responsible global citizens, making positive contributions to the world.”

Ms. Voltaire shares, “My ultimate goal is for our students to develop a lifelong love for learning, extending well beyond their time at ASU Prep Digital. By fostering this love for learning, I hope to nurture individuals who are eager to explore new ideas, pursue knowledge, and continue growing throughout their lives.”

Reflecting on her time at ASU Prep Digital, Ms. Voltaire recalls the second year of the elementary school as a defining moment. This was when perceptions shifted post-Covid pandemic, and ASU Prep Digital was recognized not as a mere fill-in option, but as a truly extraordinary digital school offering unparalleled opportunities for personalized learning. This shift embodies the mission of the school and reflects the dedication and hard work of the entire community.

As the 2023 Staff Member of the Year, Ms. Voltaire extends her heartfelt gratitude to the school community for their unwavering commitment to shared vision. Honored to be part of this remarkable journey, she looks forward to continuing the path of excellence and innovation at ASU Prep.

Thank you Eric Roth and Allison Voltaire for your exceptional service. From all of us at ASU Prep, congratulations on this well-deserved recognition. Here’s to another year of growth, discovery, and countless achievements.

Discover New Reads Just in Time for Book Lovers Day

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Picture a cozy nook as you immerse yourself in the pages of a captivating story. Welcome to the enchanting realm of Book Lovers Day, a celebration of literature and the transformative power of reading, recognized on August 9.

Studies have shown reading is not just a source of entertainment but also a gateway to numerous health benefits. As you embark on literary adventures, you simultaneously stimulate your mind, improve memory retention, reduce stress levels, and even enhance your social skills. It’s like a workout for your brain, leaving you feeling refreshed, inspired, and intellectually invigorated.

What better way for bibliophiles around the world to celebrate Book Lovers Day than to share in new authors, different genres, and a love for books with fellow enthusiasts? Recently, ASU Prep staff and students shared their favorite literary treasures. Let’s take a look at their recommendations.

Student Recommendations

Or Give me Death by Ann Rinaldi, historical fiction, is a Revolutionary War tale about Patrick Henry’s family as told by his daughters about their mother Sarah, who is locked in a cellar due to her mental illness.

Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton, contemporary young adult, is the tale of two mismatched classmates on a mission to make their high school a little less awful.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garica, gothic horror, is set in glamorous 1950s Mexico and follows a young woman investigating her cousin’s claims that her husband is trying to murder her.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, young adult mystery, is a series about an investigation turned obsession when a student re-examines the closed case of a murdered schoolgirl.

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean, young adult fiction, tells the story of a Japanese American girl discovering her father’s true identity—the Crown Prince of Japan—and being caught between two worlds.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, fantasy fiction, is a two-book series following the Shadow and Bone trilogy that tells the story of a criminal prodigy and his crew on an impossible heist.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, young adult romance, is a trilogy that follows Belly’s most memorable summers, growing up and falling in love.

Some notable reliables that were also recommended by students include the fantasy series Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as coming-of-age classics Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Staff Recommendations

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman, nonfiction, combines commentary on product design and the principles of cognitive psychology.

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams, memoir, is an engaging and funny recounting of the author’s journey to the historic site.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, historical fiction, recounts the lives of two half sisters, one living in a castle, and the other sold into slavery and imprisoned in that same castle.

Last Train to Memphis by Peter Guralnick, biography, tells the story of legendary musician Elvis Presely like never before.

The Human Target by Tom King & Greg Smallwood, detective story, follows the mystery of who is out to murder DC Comics villain Lex Luthor.

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr., nonfiction, delves into the life of a reclusive heiress, tracing her family’s immense wealth from the Gilded Age opulence to a twenty-first-century legal battle over inheritance.

Many staff members recommended nonfiction instructional books including: The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, and Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Tawwa.

Contemporary fiction novels often seen on book club lists were also common suggestions, including This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub. His and Hers by Alice Feeney was recommended and may lead to reading more of her popular thrillers. The same is true for The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, which may turn readers into superfans of her many bestselling books.

Celebrate Book Lovers Day

Whether it’s a thrilling mystery, a heartwarming romance, or enlightening nonfiction, there’s always something new to discover in the pages of a good book. Join ASU Prep in celebrating Book Lovers Day by checking out one of these recommendations or sharing your own recommendation with our ASU Prep community on Instagram using #ASUPrepReads. Remember, every book you haven’t read is a new adventure waiting for you.

Sal Khan Discusses Khan World School’s Inaugural Year on the People I (Mostly) Admire Podcast.

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Sal Khan Discusses Khan World School’s Inaugural Year on the People I (Mostly) Admire Podcast.

Khan World School at ASU Prep is a revolutionary online learning experience different from all other schools. Designed for self-driven and curious students, the program features self-paced online learning along with collaborative work such as Socratic-style seminars and small group tutorials with students from around the world. The result is a highly engaging learning experience fostering self-motivation and creativity while supercharging academic growth.

The dynamic collaboration between Khan World School and ASU Prep offers students a chance to tackle real-world problems preparing them to create meaningful change in the world, both for themselves and others. After a successful first year, including outstanding student growth in Math and Language Arts, Khan World School at ASU Prep has garnered attention, including being featured on a recent episode of People I (Mostly) Admire, with Steve Levitt. On the podcast, Levitt interviews founder Sal Khan, as well as Chloe Chung Peterson, a high school student currently enrolled in the program.

Listen to the episode for a behind-the-scenes discussion with Sal Khan on what it’s like being on the cutting edge of innovation in the education world. Also, you’ll get to hear Chloe Chung Peterson discuss what it’s really like to be a high school student in the program.

Learn More
Khan World School at ASU Prep is an innovative online school for self-driven and curious students in grades 6–12. For more information, please visit asuprep.asu.edu/khan-world-school.

ASU Prep’s Internship Program: Setting up Students for College and Career Success

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In honor of National Intern Day on July 27th, we want to shine a spotlight on ASU Prep’s internship program, designed to support high school students on their journey toward higher education and fulfilling careers. ASU Prep is dedicated to providing students with real-world experiences that spark their interests and prepare them for future success. The internship program is part of this commitment, guiding students on college and career pathways.

The ASU Prep Internship Program

ASU Prep offers multiple avenues for students to secure internships. They can either apply from the database of over 50 contacts provided by ASU Prep, create their own internship opportunities, or turn their existing jobs or volunteer experience into an internship. The program is flexible and accommodates different pathways, even allowing students to gain credit for their internship experiences.

An asynchronous digital course brings together students from across the ASU Prep network of campuses. Participants receive support and guidance from a dedicated instructor and are encouraged to collaborate with fellow students through discussion posts, as well as fun “show and tell” type activities where students can “show off” their internships with one another. Students also complete weekly reflections and submit their internship hours. The elective course can be taken twice to earn one full high school credit.

A Network of Strong Partnerships

While some students seek out their own internship opportunity, like one industrious ASU Prep Digital student who worked at a Lafayette, Louisiana police department, others rely on an impressive list of local partners, maintained by Felecia O’Neal, ASU Prep’s Network College and Career Coordinator.

These diverse partnerships have connected students to internships at the Mayo Clinic; Victory Legal Solutions, a female-owned local law firm; the Biltmore Resort; Arizona Department of Corrections, and many more.

And of course, ASU Prep’s relationship with Arizona State University opens up a whole world of internship opportunities. Ms. O’Neal points out Mathematics Professor Natalie B. Welcome as an ideal example of the level of mentorship available: “She not only walks students through how to be a professor, how to grade papers, and how to use rubrics, she also plans field trips so students will visit all the labs. Whether it’s art or science, she lets them connect to a variety of different places on campus.”

Some ASU Prep interns work with ASU’s SCience and ENgineering Experience (SCENE), getting the opportunity to complete science research in state-of-the art university labs. Digital students can even participate by working in a lab closer to home and meeting with their professors virtually.

The Impact and Benefits

By providing real-world experiences and hands-on opportunities, the ASU internship program instills determination and passion in students, igniting a desire to succeed beyond high school. Students gain insights into their fields of interest, explore various industries, and develop transferable skills that are invaluable for their future careers.

Ms. O’Neal explains the importance of these character- (and résumé-) building experiences: “Determination is when you have a vision or feeling that locks in that you are going to pursue success. You’re not just thinking about it in your head, but you’re actually working on doing meaningful work in a particular area. That determination helps you succeed and figure out how to be successful beyond high school.”

To learn more about ASU Prep’s internship program, students can contact their Academic Advisor or Learning Success Coach.

Visit ASU Prep to learn more about all of our programs dedicated to preparing students for success.

Online Learning With Artificial Intelligence

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A sci-fi fantasy meets AI reality in online K-12 education.

“When we saw what’s possible with ChatGPT, it was pretty obvious to me that the world was about to change,” said Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy

Inspired by the ingenuity of emerging AI and the never-ending curiosity of his students, Khan developed a new online education technology called “Khanmigo.” Khanmigo is an intelligent tutoring system powered by AI that caters to the needs of students and educators. One of the first platforms to launch this AI technology for education was Khan World School, an online institution through Arizona State University with a focus on online education innovations

But one curious Khan World School student in particular helped show just how impactful student engagement with AI can be.

“Her name is Saanvi,” said Khan. “She said, ‘I was reading The Great Gatsby and I kept wondering why he looked at the green light in the distance.’ Then Saanvi realized that she could actually talk to Jay Gatsby using Khanmigo.”

The AI simulated Jay Gatsby with his “old sport” catch phrase and all. And Saanvi not only got her answers, but she ended up having a very in-depth conversation with the AI version of this famous literary character. Her interaction alone put a spotlight on the positive impact that AI can have on student outcomes.

“It just shows you how immersive and how rich experiences like this are,” said Khan. “It unlocks a depth to any dimension of learning that would’ve seemed science fiction a year ago.” 

Khan World School, One Year Later

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Making the case for a personalized K-12 virtual education.

One year after its inception, Khan World School and ASU Prep Digital have seen dramatic success with its digital classroom model and personalized education curriculum. The platform’s commitment to providing quality education to everyone, regardless of location or economic background, has made a significant difference in the lives of students worldwide, including its first class of 47 ninth-grade students. 

“This was a bit of an experiment to see if it threads the needle in the right way,” said Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy. “I think we’ve hit the sweet spot where the average student is spending about two hours of synchronous time with their community. But those two hours, I would argue, are more connected than the five or six hours that a lot of students might spend in a traditional classroom.”

The final end-of-year results were surprising, even to Khan.

“We’ve seen two to three times growth in math, we’re looking at three to three plus times expected growth in reading … language arts, I don’t even want to say it because it’s so large, five times expected growth.”

Both Khan and Amy McGrath with ASU Prep Digital see new opportunities for innovation in online education, like online college prep and online honors programs, to help increase engagement and motivate homeschool students. Within the next year, they plan to expand their online offerings to nearly 350 students in grades 6-12 around the world. 

“Increasing opportunity is what Arizona State University is all about,” said McGrath. “Being able to partner with someone as prolific as Sal to design a model that is giving students a hybrid, flexible choice and allowing them to sprint is so exciting.”

Defying the Myth of K-12 Virtual Education 

After the pandemic took students out of the traditional classroom setting, Khan saw virtual classrooms as an opportunity to help them get the best of both worlds through what he calls “mastery learning.” This idea breaks with the traditional classroom approach and combines independent studies with interactive online learning, allowing their students to create a foundation for themselves.

“There are students today who want to be challenged … these are going to be the kids who start the Googles of the future, who cure diseases, write the great novels of the future,” said Khan. “Even if we can reach thousands of them, I think that’s going to have a huge impact on society … [and it] sets an example of what’s possible in the broader world.”

“They’re not necessarily coming in as crazy high-aptitude learners,” added McGrath. “They’re just willing.”

Through their small group-based education system known as “houses,” the first group of students at Khan World School had the unique opportunity to engage with peers at a micro level.

“Fifty really is a small community of learners. We then shrink that even more and have smaller houses where they get to know each other on a more personal basis … [and] work on peer mastery,” said McGrath. “They also have the opportunity to get together in the Socratic seminar sessions that have all 50 of the students … a resounding theme is respect for one another and for different opinions, and the desire to grow and expand their thinking.”

With its adaptive learning technology and data-driven insights, Khan World School continues to innovate and refine its offerings so it can stay ahead of the next big shift in K-12 virtual education.

A Universe of Assets with AI

While there’s still much to learn about artificial intelligence (AI) and how it can affect our day-to-day lives, Khan doesn’t see its emergence in education as an obstacle. In fact, he sees it as a new opportunity. His flagship institution, Khan Lab School, tested the precision and effectiveness of AI in education– and the results are very promising. 

“Artificial intelligence can do higher-order tasks, even in math, that we couldn’t traditionally do,” said Khan. “Artificial intelligence can work with the student, but also assess the student and communicate with the adults on what the adults can do to better support the students.” 

From tutoring and teaching to lesson planning and critical problem solving. In the words of McGrath, AI brings a “universe of assets” to education. And as Khan World School looks to the future, the integration of online resources and AI with traditional education holds great promise in changing the way students learn, and teachers instruct.

“Khan World school is going to be the epicenter of not just throwing technology in there just to look modern, but to do it in ways that are really thoughtful where we can start to do even more mastery-based learning,” said Khan. “With all of the artificial intelligence work that’s happening, we need to show the world how this can be used for good.”

 

KWS Student Gets Shout Out in Sal Khan Ted Talk

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When you are a student at Khan World School at ASU Prep you have access to all sorts of exciting education innovation, including Khanmigo, the latest AI tools from Khan Academy. Thanks to her creative AI conversation with Jay Gatsby, Saanvi, a promising ninth grade KWS student, earned a mention in Sal Khan’s latest Ted Talk—How AI Could Save (Not Destroy) Education. Check out the clip below and learn more about this innovative online school at one of their virtual info sessions.

 

What Our Parents Are Saying: Inspiring Meaningful Experiences

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Khan World School (KWS) at ASU Prep is where self-motivation, curiosity, and creativity meld together. The results are in—thanks to outstanding student performance in our first year—KWS is transforming lives around the world! Read what this parent has to say:  

Inspiring Meaningful Experiences      

“We are so appreciative of the entire KWS staff for creating and providing our child with an innovative, meaningful, engaging, and encouraging learning experience. You are all doing amazing hard work, which is evident in how our student has grown and blossomed as a KWS student. Thank you, thank you!” 

What Our Parents Are Saying: Optimizing Opportunities

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Khan World School (KWS) at ASU Prep is where self-motivation, curiosity, and creativity meld together. The results are in—thanks to outstanding student performance in our first year—KWS is transforming lives around the world! Read what this parent has to say:  

Optimizing Opportunities

“I just wanted to say how thankful I am that my son is finally in a school environment that is challenging him. I really appreciate that your teachers are sending work back for him to redo if they know he can do better and that they are holding the standard high.

We had such a hard time finding a place where he would have to stretch to meet expectations thereby pushing him to learn really important life and time management skills along with academic skills. The options in our town are very limited so we have always had to handle his education on our own and a school like this has been a dream of ours for a long time that just didn’t exist.

It is a wonderful opportunity for him to meet like-minded people and role models and the work that you put into building a community environment really does make a difference. It is the first time that I have been able to step away from managing his education and I can now allow it to be his own space and his own experience outside of me because I trust that he is in good hands. Thank you for all your hard work.”  

Passover: Celebrating Freedom and Family

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Students of all religions, cultures, and beliefs call ASU Prep home, and we are honored to include and welcome them. Passover is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays. It commemorates the Israelites’ Exodus from slavery in Egypt to freedom. The holiday, which usually falls in March or April, is often celebrated for eight days and incorporates remembrance of Jewish history, family, and themes of springtime. This year, it concludes the evening of April 13.

The Passover holiday is a “festival of freedom.” The festive seder meal occurs on the first two nights of the holiday and is observed with families, friends, and communities. The seder involves the re-telling of the Exodus. In order to protect their first-born children, the Israelites marked their doors with lamb’s blood so the angel of death would pass over them, thus the name Passover, or “pesach” in Hebrew.

Through stories, songs, and the consumption of ritual foods, families retell the story of deliverance and pass on traditions and religious beliefs. Many Jews do not eat certain leavened foods during Passover. There is a specific section of the seder called the four questions, where the youngest person at the table asks about the different Passover symbols and the elders explain.

In 2020, an estimated 15 million people worldwide identified themselves as Jewish. Jews believe God made a special covenant with Abraham, the founder of Judaism, and that he and his descendants were chosen people who would create a great nation. The origins of the Jewish faith are explained throughout the Torah.

ASU Prep wishes all our community celebrating Passover, a wonderful holiday.