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.

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.

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.”


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.  

Christians Celebrate Easter with Hope and Joy

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ASU Prep is proud that students from all over the United States, as well as around the world, call our schools home. With its diverse student body and faculty and staff, it is also home to a wide variety of religions and beliefs.  

Christians around the world celebrated Easter this past Sunday, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after his crucifixion. The significance of Easter is Jesus’ resurrection and triumph over death. Christians believe it is this triumph that affirms Jesus was the prophesied Messiah of Israel and the King of a new heaven and a new earth.

In the Christian calendar, Easter follows Lent—the period of 40 days not counting Sundays before Easter—which some Christian sects observe by acts of penance and fasting. Some Christians choose to give up specific preferences, such as sweets, soda, or social media, during Lent as a reminder to pray and to refocus on spiritual matters.

Easter has accumulated a great many secular traditions and symbols. Decorating and hiding eggs for example. The egg became a symbol representing new life. In the U.S., another common custom is that the Easter bunny leaves children baskets with toys and candies on Easter morning. 

Christianity is the largest religious group in the world—approximately one-third of the world’s total population–with an estimated 2.6 billion identifying themselves as Christians. Like many religions, Christianity has several denominations, but Easter brings them together in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.    

ASU Preparatory Academy’s Innovative People, Programs Earn High Honors at 2023 Edtech Awards

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ASU Prep Leaders and Tech Programs Receive Recognition Across

Three Categories, Including Prestigious Designation as Winning School Leader

TEMPE, Ariz. (April 11, 2023) –  A forward-thinking, innovative approach to education is once again earning accolades for ASU Preparatory Academy and its leadership team. At the annual EdTech Awards, ASU Prep leaders and initiatives earned honors in three categories, including School Leader, School Leader Setting a Trend and Learning Management Solution.

Among the honorees is Julie Young, Managing Director of ASU Prep and Vice President of ASU Educational Outreach, who was named the winner of the School Leader category. In addition, Amy McGrath, Chief Operating Officer for ASU Prep and Deputy Vice President of ASU Educational Outreach, was named a finalist in the School Leader Setting a Trend category. 

Rounding out ASU’s presence at the awards was the ASU Prep Learning Cloud, which was a finalist in the Learning Management Solution category.

“Through ASU Prep, we’re leveraging rapidly advancing technology to bring personalized educational opportunities to K-12 students everywhere,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Peer recognitions like this affirm that our learning network is effectively harnessing emerging technologies to support student success.”

The EdTech Awards were established in 2010 to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate the most exceptional innovators, leaders and trendsetters in education technology. Celebrating its 13th year, the U.S.-based program is the world’s largest recognition program for education technology, recognizing the biggest names in edtech—and those who soon will be.

This year’s finalists and winners were narrowed from the larger field and judged based on various criteria, including pedagogical workability, efficacy and results, support, clarity, value and potential.

“A very big congratulations to all The EdTech Awards 2023 finalists and winners—and congratulations to all who endured the upheavals of the last few years only to come through stronger, more experienced, resilient and resolute in laying out the future of learning,” said Victor Rivero, who as Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest, oversees the program.

Khan World School at ASU Prep Accelerates Expansion Thanks to Exceptional Academic Performance by Pilot Cohort

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Online Honors Program Enrolling Students in Grades 6-12 for 2023-24 School Year

TEMPE, Ariz. (March 9, 2023) –  Building on its successful pilot of a unique honors program for ninth graders, ASU Preparatory Academy is expanding enrollment for Khan World School at ASU Prep (KWS) to all middle and high school students for the 2023-24 school year. The accelerated expansion, which answers growing demand for digital learning options for advanced students, comes on the heels of an assessment that shows KWS students’ academic achievement is far exceeding expectations.

“With the launch of any new learning model, we’re carefully assessing its efficacy in meeting student needs and ensuring we are anchored to our commitment to increasing academic achievement,” said Amy McGrath, Chief Operating Officer at ASU Prep. “With KWS, we had high expectations, but the outcomes were far more dramatic than we anticipated. It’s a clear signal the program can bring meaningful opportunities for accelerated students who are motivated by curiosity and the joy of learning.”

Based on an assessment conducted after the first semester, KWS students’ Math scores rose an average of 50 points from the beginning of the year (typical growth is 11 points). Similarly, English/Language Arts scores saw a notable jump with a 48-point increase (typical growth: 10 points), and Reading scores showed appreciable progression, as well, with a 35-point increase (typical growth: 10 points).

While the results are remarkable in their own right, what’s even more notable is the unconventional methods that led students to this level of achievement, says Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy and author of The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined. “This is not a passive, sit-back-and-absorb-it-all experience,” Khan said. “Students frame their own vision for success and are responsible for the decisions and actions that move them down the path at their own pace.”

KWS, a full-time online school, combines the expertise of ASU Prep and the Khan network (Khan Academy, Khan Lab School and Schoolhouse.world) and in a unique model based on the core principles of mastery-based learning, personalization of each student’s experience and learning together as a community.

Students master core knowledge and explore society’s most challenging problems with support from peers and an inspiring network of world-class learning guides, tutors, coaches and peers who provide personalized instruction, academic guidance and social support.

As participants in the accredited KWS program, students progress through an advanced college-prep curriculum using a combination of high-quality, self-paced online lessons, small-group tutorials and peer tutoring. SAT prep is part of the curriculum and students have the chance to earn university credit in high school, accelerating their path to college and saving time and money when they get there.

KWS enrollment is now open to students entering grades six through 12 for the fall 2023 semester. The program is tuition-free for Arizona residents; out-of-state students will pay tuition to attend, and scholarships may be available. Students interested in enrolling can learn more about admissions requirements and the application process at khanworldschool.com.

About ASU Preparatory Academy

ASU Preparatory Academy is chartered by Arizona State University and serves more than 7,000 students across its network. ASU Prep uses innovative approaches to curriculum to prepare all students for success in graduating from a university. Its mission is to design new models for educational success and raise academic achievement for all learners. ASU Preparatory Academy has schools in Phoenix, South Phoenix, Mesa and Casa Grande. In addition, ASU Prep Digital serves online K-12 students in Arizona and around the world. For more information, visit: https://asuprep.asu.edu.