One Student, One Teacher

by • October 1, 2014 • 2014, Cover Story, Education & Learning, October 2014, People & Profiles, Teens and Pre-Teens

How Halstrom Academy designs academic paths for individual success

hen you stop and think about it, traditional schools are strangely amazing. Put hundreds, often thousands, of pre-teens or teens into a few square acres and a handful of buildings, with a 40:1 ratio of students to adults and only their also-developing peers to whom they might compare their bodies, their experiences, their grades and their opinions, and expect them to do their best – academically, emotionally and interpersonally. What? It’s strange because it’s not a natural community structure, even if it is today’s norm; it’s amazing because some students actually come out of it healthy and having learned something.

One-to-one teaching has dramatically improved Joshua's academic outlook

One-to-one teaching has dramatically improved Joshua’s academic outlook

Of course, accessibility is crucial – that’s why schools have become what they have become – and teachers who teach hundreds of students every day are, frankly, living saints. But when you must provide for the masses, there is no way every individual gets what he or she needs. Today there are many very bright students who have challenges that prevent them from fitting well into the massive norm that follows a fairly straight and well-trampled path. A learning disability is not a symptom of stupidity; a behavioral disorder is not a sign of lesser brainpower; an emotional struggle is not a signal that a person is not brilliant. Some students just need a path that winds with them, so their talents, their strengths and their smarts can rise into view. For those students, there is Halstrom Academy.

Halstrom Academy was founded on the premise that, for many students, a one-to-one teacher-student ratio is the ideal scenario for academic success. Every student works with highly qualified teachers and receives a customized learning plan that is tailored to their unique skills, interests, needs and rate of progress.

Sixteen-year-old aspiring filmmaker Joshua Ovalle of Huntington Beach was struggling at his local high school. He suffers from attention deficit disorder (ADD). Even though Josh is ambitious and passionate, he was, as he puts it, “lost” in school. His confidence was battered by his performance and his grades. After less than a year at Halstrom, everything is different.

“I’m proud of my GPA,” says Josh. “I have completely turned my grades around. I learn things better now, quicker, I’m getting A’s, and I’m more confident about everything. If I don’t get something, my teacher immediately corrects me. Also, my mind can’t wander off, as much as it may want to. Before Halstrom, I felt that getting into a high caliber University was not going to happen, but now, that’s definitely a possibility.”

Joshua Ovalle of Huntington Beach gets time to pursue his passion for making films

Joshua Ovalle of Huntington Beach gets time to pursue his passion for making films

Halstrom is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It offers more than 150 courses including 17 AP courses, and nearly a hundred U.C./C.S.U certified and NCAA approved courses. An in-depth college and career planning program prepares students for life beyond high school and has helped many students go on to prestigious universities. Halstrom offers year-round open enrollment at three Orange County campuses located in Anaheim Hills, Huntington Beach and Mission Viejo, and will soon open a campus in Newport Beach. There are also campuses throughout San Diego and Los Angeles counties, as well as the San Francisco Bay area. Halstrom classes are also available via webcam through an online program.

Flexibility of time is also an enormous benefit to many Halstrom students, including Josh, who puts a lot of energy into his filmmaking. “In order to do a decent production it takes a lot of time to put together a script, a storyboard, set up a production schedule, arrange a crew and cast, shoot, and then edit. The reality is that during the school year it’s really hard to get it done. The great thing about Halstrom is that I can customize my schedule. This opens up time for me and I’ve been able to complete my last short film while taking summer school. The flexibility of scheduling has also made it possible for me to go to film festivals I’ve been invited to attend in New York and Los Angeles.”

Josh is thriving in his world, but his home life has also taken a turn for the better since making the switch to Halstrom. “I used to have to tutor Josh a lot, helping with math and various subjects, and checking to make sure his homework was complete,” says Josh’s father Wernher. “Now at Halstrom, Josh gets what he needs from his teachers and support staff. He comes home and his schoolwork is finished. He is much more independent, and the household dynamics have vastly improved.”

If your student is struggling in the traditional school system, or if he or she is driven to pursue a passion that requires flexibility of schedule, Halstrom Academy is an option.

“I think sometimes parents accept the traditional school model even when their kids aren’t doing well in school because they don’t know there are other options,” says Wernher. “Parents shouldn’t accept having a ‘C’ student because the traditional school system can’t meet their needs. Parents need to know that alternative school programs exist that are designed to help kids be successful. Halstrom Academy is one of those great alternatives.”

When asked what he would say to other students, Josh doesn’t hesitate. “If your school is not helping you learn at your best, or if you’re not feeling all that good about yourself – you don’t have to accept it,” he says. “Some kids learn differently, and Halstrom gets that.”

To see Joshua Ovalle’s latest short film Two and a Quarter Minutes, among his other award winning projects, check out his website at To find out more about Halstrom Academy and all that is possible for your student in a one-to-one teacher-student environment, visit or call 866-590-6526. M

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