Education News

Some Greater Houston Schools Taking A Personalized Approach To Instruction

Fusion Academy has built its entire program around what’s called a one-to-one model.

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Curt Coffey is head of school at Fusion Academy’s new Sugarland campus.

In Cypress-Fairbanks, C.J. Thompson used to attend high school with more than 3,000 students. But his junior year he struggled and was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

His mom Julie Thompson worried her son needed more personal attention.

“It was a great school but with so many students, teachers are stretched,” the mom said.

So C.J. Thompson transferred his senior year to a private school near the Galleria where he would get a lot of personal attention. In all of his classes it was just him and his teacher.

“When you’re used to just the teacher talking to a crowd, it’s definitely a weird experience,” C.J. Thompson said.

He said he was able to focus and learn more.

“I had an easier senior (year) just because I was able to learn the information at my own pace,” C.J. Thompson said. “And also I wasn’t able to get distracted.”

This school has built its entire program around what’s called a one-to-one model.

“Because one size absolutely does not fit all,” said Curt Coffey with Fusion Academy. “You can’t take one algebra lesson and it’s going to be the algebra lesson that every single student needs.”

Curt Coffey is head of school at Fusion Academy's new Sugarland campus.
Curt Coffey is head of school at Fusion Academy’s new Sugarland campus.

That model is growing in Texas. Coffey just opened the newest campus in Sugarland. Fusion Academy started in California and already has six campuses in Texas, including The Woodlands.

Coffey said their flexible schedule is kind of like college, and most Fridays are free. He said that they enroll a variety of students from 6th to 12th grade. But for all of them, the traditional school model didn’t work.

“Some of our students may have some mild learning differences, they may have school anxiety or depression. They also may be coming from various treatment centers, maybe a treatment for an eating disorder,” he said, adding student athletes also enroll.

The one-on-one attention isn’t cheap though. Tuition starts at about $5,000 for tutoring and can be as much as $40,000 for a whole-scale program.

And some students may need more social interaction. So there are extra-curricular clubs, group lunches and a Homework Café where kids can work on assignments together.

For the Thompson family, the change paid off. C.J. Thompson graduated this spring and plans to attend Baylor University in the fall.

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Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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