PHOENIX, Aug. 31, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Ombudsman Arizona Charter Schools, a ChanceLight Education alternative learning program, was recognized by Microsoft for its dedication to providing students with an innovative, transformative and personalized learning experience. Ombudsman Charter East was named a Microsoft Showcase School for the second year in a row and is once again the only school in the state to receive this distinguished classification. Ombudsman Charter Northwest and Ombudsman Charter Metro were named Showcase Incubator Schools which signifies they are on the path to Showcase status.
"It's an honor to be recognized for the second consecutive year as the only Microsoft Showcase School in Arizona, and we are delighted to add two Microsoft Incubator Schools to our list of achievements," said Michael Goto, Associate Superintendent, Ombudsman Arizona Charter Schools. "When our schools went completely virtual in March due to COVID-19, our teachers and students continued to stay focused and determined despite the unique challenges. Earning these accolades, which includes being one of only 39 Microsoft Showcase Schools in the country, is a true testament to the success of our program that helps ensure non-traditional learners reach their full potential."
Ombudsman Arizona Charter Schools, which has eight locations throughout Phoenix and Tucson, offers free, flexible education programs and college and career counseling services to students ages 14-21 who struggle in the traditional high school environment due to behavioral issues, poor academic standing or adult responsibilities, or those who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of school. The Ombudsman curriculum and support services help students get back on track and graduate and prepares them to enter college or the workforce.
Many Ombudsman students have adult responsibilities such as work, family and childcare that make regular attendance challenging. Students miss instruction when they are absent, which can cause them to fall further behind in coursework. To help ensure students succeed, Ombudsman focuses more on independent-led teaching utilizing Microsoft technology like OneNote and PowerPoint, allowing students to access learning materials 24 hours a day from a variety of devices and stay current on their schoolwork.
As a Microsoft Showcase School, teachers incorporate Microsoft 365 technology into the curriculum and student assessments and provide training during the orientation process, so students are prepared to use the technology from day one. Students become proficient in utilizing basic Office software, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and utilize more advanced programming, such as Microsoft's Teams platform for communication and OneNote for project management. Students use this technology to provide feedback on school activities and complete classroom projects at least twice each semester.
In addition to the Showcase School top honor, 14 Ombudsman Arizona Charter School educators were named Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts. According to Microsoft, the Innovative Educators program recognizes global educator visionaries who use technology to pave the way for their peers to enhance the learning experience and improve student outcomes. The 2021 Microsoft Innovative Educators from Ombudsman include: Rachel Armock, Veronica Bates, Dorothy Cohen, Katherine Crooks, Jessica De La Cruz, Stephanie Delacruz, Michael Goto, Lupita Ingram, Tiffany Lenzi, Jonathan Lindsay, Andrea Lopez, Andrea Rodriguez, Tina Romero and Patricia Wood.
Several of the Ombudsman Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts commented on the how the school's non-traditional learners are more engaged and motivated as a result of the Microsoft program.
"As a Microsoft Showcase School, our program is more accessible to different types of learners and makes the learning process more individualized. Platforms like Microsoft Teams increases personal interaction with students and allows us to develop deeper, more meaningful connections," said Rachel Armock, English Teacher at Ombudsman Charter East Microsoft Showcase School.
"Many of our students feel unsuccessful or uninterested in a traditional public high school, and it's our responsibility to spark interest and excitement in their academic experiences. Our blended learning model and various Microsoft tools help us engage students and teach them the skills they need to succeed in their careers. Our students improve their academic, critical thinking, technology and innovation skills; and graduate well-rounded contributors of their community," said Lupita Ingram, Principal at Charter Metro High School Microsoft Incubator School.
"As we engage in remote learning, we depend on Microsoft tools more than ever to enhance connections and provide opportunities for face-to face interaction. We continue to find innovative ways to use Microsoft technology to keep our students engaged academically and to create effective communication, school community and emotional connections," said Dorothy Cohen, Principal at Charter East Microsoft Showcase School.
Ombudsman encourages students to complete the self-paced Microsoft certification program that improves their proficiency in the software, helps prepare them for a career, and proves their experience and expertise to employers. Ombudsman covers the cost of the exam fee for students. For many, this certificate opens doors to careers previously unattainable without a college degree.
Schools throughout the country and the world submit applications and only the most impressive and innovative programs are selected as Microsoft Showcase Schools. "It's extremely rewarding for our teachers and staff to be recognized for their commitment to ensuring our students succeed in school and beyond," said Goto. "Our program empowers students to achieve their academic goals and gives them a second chance at a high school diploma and a promising future."
About Ombudsman Charter Schools:
Ombudsman, a division of ChanceLight Behavioral Health, Therapy and Education, provides highly personalized, technology-rich blended learning programs for middle and high school students who have not been successful in traditional school programs. Our program is for students who are at risk of dropping out, who wish to recover credits to advance with their classmates, or who have adult responsibilities and would benefit from a flexible schedule. For more information, visit www.arizonadiploma.com.
SOURCE ChanceLight Education