Contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144
On June 4, more than 880 high school seniors from around the world will graduate from University of Missouri High School, the flagship online program of Mizzou Academy, an outreach and engagement unit embedded within the MU College of Education and Human Development. Sixteen of those seniors will be at the Missouri Theatre in downtown Columbia for the in-person ceremony, including Annie Robinson, who grew up on her family farm in Wellsville, Missouri. She plans to attend MU this fall and major in food science with minors in agriculture communications and marketing.
Robinson travels around the country to show livestock as part of the National Junior Swine Association, and with all her time on the road, a traditional, in-person high school wasn’t a possibility for her. The youngest of five siblings, Robinson followed the family tradition of being schooled at home through eighth grade before enrolling online at the University of Missouri High School.
“What I love most about Mizzou Academy is the flexibility of being able to take my classes on my schedule,” said Robinson, who has taken classes in health, American history, government, marketing and personal development, among others. “I have also enjoyed getting to know the faculty and staff. They are very responsive and willing to help with any questions I might have, especially if I don’t understand something. I would recommend Mizzou Academy to anyone thinking about an alternative high school experience.”
Mizzou Academy is a fully-accredited, global K-12 school system. The only one of its kind, it serves students from Boone County, Missouri, to 57 countries around the world at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
“Our mission is to help fill access gaps by making education more accessible and helping students around the world reach their potential,” said Kathryn Fishman-Weaver, executive director of Mizzou Academy. “By forming partnerships and emphasizing student leadership, we want young people to realize they can start making a difference in their communities right away.”
Mizzou Academy first began an accredited high school that awards diplomas in 1999. Originally called the Center for Distance and Independent Study, Mizzou Academy was part of MU Extension before joining the MU College of Education and Human Development in 2011. Engaged in innovations and best practices for online teaching, learning, research and service, Mizzou Academy has served students from 57 different countries since January 2020, with the largest student groups coming from the United States, Brazil, China, Honduras and Vietnam. Mizzou Academy offers 23 different language courses and provides resources to help English language learners because some international students plan to study in the U.S. after graduating from high school.
“Our students become problem solvers in their home communities,” Fishman-Weaver said. “One example is a group of students in our middle school program from São Paulo, Brazil, who noticed a growing housing insecurity and homelessness crisis in their area, with the most common requested item being socks. So, they started a sock drive and when MU faculty heard about it, they wanted to get involved as well, and we ended up collecting so many donated socks that we sent to Brazil and to the St. Francis House here in Columbia.”
Mizzou Academy welcomes students from all backgrounds, including those who may travel often for sports or other activities as well as students who may have medical struggles or prefer the flexibility that comes with online learning. There also are students who are looking to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses their current school doesn’t offer, and others who are looking to accelerate their education and graduate early.
“Watching the students succeed and graduate after they may have struggled with various things in their life is very rewarding,” said Alicia Bixby, a counselor who helps students pick their classes and ensures they are on track to graduate. “The COVID-19 pandemic led to a major shift toward online learning, and some students excelled with it so much, they stuck with it even when their previous school went back to in-person learning.”
Bixby explained that the University of Missouri High School follows state graduation guidelines meaning students need at least four years of English language arts, three years of math, social studies and science, one year of fine arts, practical arts and physical education, and a half-credit of health.
Karen Scales is Mizzou Academy’s division chair for global English language arts. In addition to teaching AP classes such as literature and composition as well as language and composition, she also teaches creative writing and information literacy as electives.
“Watching students realize they can make an impact on the world right now and take control of their education on their own terms is very rewarding,” Scales said. “We are also very passionate about removing the stigma that still exists regarding online education. There are very dedicated, nurturing and professional educators who have spent years building these online learning platforms using various technology resources. Mizzou Academy is for those who value flexibility and accessibility while not sacrificing a quality education.”
For media interested in attending the June 4 graduation ceremony at the Missouri Theatre, contact Brian Consiglio at 573-882-9144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.