St. Joseph's High School
Clay Jones, Principal of St. Joseph’s High School in Ogden, Utah, understands the value of giving students opportunities to learn in an environment that mirrors a globally connected workforce. That’s why he was on board when a colleague from Salt Lake shared the success their school was having with a blended learning model, supported by ASU Prep Digital.
While Jones was prepared to integrate digital learning into St. Joseph’s model, not everyone at the school felt the same way. “St. Joe’s success has actually been part of the challenge in making the move to blended learning,” said Jones, “Our students are going to places like John Hopkins, Notre Dame, and the Naval Academy.”
Because of that success, the pushback was essentially, “Why rock the boat?”
St. Joseph’s is the smallest Catholic high school in Utah, serving mostly middle- and lower income families, with enrollments typically running between 165 to 180 students. Although the school is small, it is mighty. Students consistently outperform other private school students statewide on indicators like ACT scores. “We do a good job of preparing students for college,” Jones said.
When COVID hit, Jones and his teaching team realized they needed to embrace tech-supported learning in a hurry.
“We had to get teachers onboard with finding ways to use the digital content to supplement what they are already great at doing,” said Jones. As the teachers have gained skills and learned to make the digital environment work for them and for their students, they are seeing advantages.”
By providing college credit through ASU Prep Digital, St Joseph’s families could reduce their college financial burden. As a father of upcoming college students himself, Jones understands the pressures middle to low-income families experience in the face of rising college expenses. “We can’t keep passing these costs along,” said Jones.
Giving students a chance to explore college material and studies within their field of interest is an appealing option, especially because students would be doing so within a much more supportive environment. Still, for Jones and St. Joseph’s, it’s about striking the balance between opening doors to access while also providing a rich high school experience. “I don’t want to rush them,” said Jones, “but I definitely see the benefit for juniors and seniors to have the chance to take college courses to prepare.”
Making the switch to a digitally supported learning environment has been a challenge, one that Jones likens to reverting back to being a first-year teacher in many ways. Still, he is proud of the strides his teachers have made and of their willingness to take the plunge. “This is one way of keeping us relevant so that we can fulfill our mission,” said Jones, “and you can’t do that if your doors are closed.”