Myron B. Thompson Academy
|Myron B. Thompson Academy|
Praestantia Et Aeqvvs (Excellence and Equity [in Education])
|Type||New Century Public Charter, Online|
|Established||1999, chartered in 2000|
|School district||Hawaiʻi Department of Education, Honolulu District/Charter Schools|
|Grades||K–12 (K–6 Home, 7–12 Online)|
|Color(s)||Black and Silver|
|Accreditation||Western Association of Schools and Colleges|
Myron B. Thompson Academy, commonly referred to as Thompson Academy or MBTA, is an e-learning institution operating as a "New Century Public Charter School" under the Hawaiʻi Department of Education. Thompson Academy is the result of a white paper study developed by the school's principal, Diana Oshiro, detailing the feasibility of a school delivered over the internet. Established in 1999 as Hawaii e-Charter, Thompson Academy is available to students across the state of Hawaiʻi exclusively through the internet, as an alternative-of-choice to local schools. The school is currently accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The concept for Thompson Academy predates the inception of Hawaiʻi's E-School system. In 1994, state Assistant Superintendent Diana Oshiro began writing a white paper discussing the use of the internet as a medium to deliver courses. This white paper later went on to win a five-year grant from the US Department of Education and became what is now known as the Hawaiʻi E-School system, the collaboration between the Hawaiʻi Department of Education and US Department of Education to create, test and provide supplemental courses over the internet.
E-School was largely considered a success in delivering courses. Five years later, as the federal grant was concluding, those responsible for E-School's success began investigating the viability and sustainability of a virtual charter school, based on lessons learned from the project. From this investigation, the development of a charter quickly progressed, with a statewide Hawaiʻi e-Charter being brought to fruition in 1999 and granted a charter by the Hawaiʻi Department of Education in 2000.
As word spread of the new virtual school, Hawaiʻi e-Charter began to see explosive growth, multiplying its enrollments year-over-year. In 2002 Hawaiʻi e-Charter renamed itself Myron B. Thompson Academy, paying homage to Hawaiʻi educator and former trustee of Kamehameha Schools, Myron "Pinky" B. Thompson. In that same year, the school began offering elementary education, for students entering kindergarten through grade six.
Thompson's rise in Hawaiʻi
As a virtual institution, Thompson Academy is markedly different from its traditional counterparts in secondary education, so much so that it has begun to proliferate a broader spectrum of potential students. While teachers and other hallmarks of education remain in the formation of this school, it can largely be considered innovative in the landscape of education in Hawaiʻi.
Thompson Academy provides two unique schools of education, a home school based elementary program and an online secondary program (high school). Together, these two schools provide a full, alternative solution to compulsory education.
- Thompson Academy's K–6 division is a supported home school program. Families are provided a stipend for educational supplies and curriculum, and are provided guidance in the education of their children.
- Students in grades 7–12 are enrolled in the school's online, secondary education program. With course-content available exclusively over the internet, students progress their studies with a school provided laptop computer. Teachers located at the school's principal operating base of Honolulu administer courses, provide content guidance and other assistance to students, and track their continual progress in courses. The vast majority of students enrolled in the school are in this program.
Curriculum over the internet
Thompson Academy's unique attributes continue to spark the interest of students in Hawaiʻi. Notably, features that have attracted students and families to the school are:
- One-to-One Computer Education: Thompson Academy offers each student a school issued laptop for use in their studies and projects.
- Flexibility: Online education provides flexibility where conventional schools cannot, simply requiring an Internet connection and a suitable environment to begin studying and learning. Students are generally not required to enter the halls of the school's campuses, unless they require face-to-face consultation with teachers. Ultimately, this flexibility also allows students to progress faster through course content than they would otherwise at other schools, with the avoidance of class disruptions and other undesirable elements of traditional classrooms.
- Quality: While course content does not strongly deviate from conventional courses, due to the learning environment involved, higher quality course delivery is possible as students can better focus on their studies.
- Operation as Public School: There is no tuition to enroll at Thompson Academy, with the only out-of-pocket expenses consisting of a nominal fee for incidental insurance on school issued laptops.
- Increased Communication: Making use of technology, the school employs various ways to keep its students, faculty and parents informed, including email, teacher mobile phones, discussion boards and chat applications.
- Environmental & Cultural Education: Taking advantage of the unique landscape Hawaii provides, Thompson Academy bases several traditional classes/magnets on the land and ocean that surround Hawaiʻi, the creatures that inhabit both, and the unique Hawaiian culture.
Although Thompson Academy is principally located in Honolulu (Oʻahu), the school has several satellite campuses where students can receive additional help and tutoring from site teachers and socialize with other students. Satellite campuses are located on the neighboring islands of Maui, the Big Island and Kauaʻi. These satellite campuses facilitate the majority of educational needs and support required by outer-island students.
Thompson Academy provides a small number of extracurricular student activities, including:
'Bethany Hamilton female professional surfer, shark attack survivor.
Pohaku Kekaualua, professional bodyboarder, director nonprofit 501c4 Kauai Bodyboarding Association, Science Team MS
- Hawaiʻi Department of Education, Accreditation (accessed March 21, 2006)
- Honolulu Advertiser, "Charter school popularity up" (accessed March 21, 2006)
- Honululu Advertiser, "E-school learning hoops the hard way" (accessed March 21, 2006)