Reflections on a Rewarding First Year
When we first met Bailee, it was during the first semester of her first year as a student at Quest Forward Academy Omaha. The freshman was still trying to find her place in a new school with a new approach to learning. Last November, the former homeschooler mentioned goal setting and writing as two areas where she was trying to improve. Now that she has arrived at the end of her first year, Bailee graciously offered to be interviewed with her mentor, Ed Vogel, and spoke about what she has learned at school and about herself.
In the fall, you said the hardest thing about adjusting to Quest Forward Learning was setting goals for yourself. Is that still on your to-do list?
Bailee: I’ve definitely overcome it, and I’m better at it. I set goals for myself better than I usually did. Getting clearer direction [from my mentors] is helping me manage myself more.
What courses, besides “Who Are You?” have you enjoyed this year? Are you more confident now, and are you more comfortable expressing yourself in writing?
Bailee: I liked “Defending Yourself” a lot. We wrote argumentative papers— we read books and did an argument about it. I like writing a lot more now, and am getting way better at it. This year I did slam poetry, and next year I am doing creative writing. I don’t like math as much as I like writing; I’ve gotten a little better, but am getting there.
Ed Vogel: Bailee has shown improvement in two distinct areas. She’s really come out of her shell. When she first came, she was terrified. We really looked at the Essential Habits, particularly Manage Yourself. We’re still working on it, but Communicate and Collaborate has really grown on her. Now she likes being in groups, because it’s a place for students to collaborate. I do think her writing is improving greatly, the organization of it all, and how to organize an academic paper.
Bailee: I used to not capitalize my Is, and now it bothers me when I don’t capitalize them!
EV: She’s part of Journalism, and does a lot of Facebook posts. A big chunk of those come from Bailee. She’s taken pictures, documented events, and the majority has been her work. She’s really good at broadcasting our school, and how we’re doing things differently.
Bailee: I want to be a photographer when I’m older, so it’s really good practice.
EV: As far as goal setting, she is learning how to take bite-sized chunks out of activities and assignments.
Bailee: I have learned from setbacks: At the beginning of the school year, I’d be really sad and not want to finish an assignment, because I felt like I couldn’t make it better. Now I get it back and do [revisions] right away.
EV: Her writing has improved quite a bit! When she gets something back, it’s always salvageable, and we can always work it out.
Are you glad you came to Quest Forward Academy? Was it a good year overall?
Bailee: It’s been really fun. I’ve enjoyed it and I’m glad I came. I think the mentors really encouraged me to be better at stuff. Overall I am more confident in what I am doing now, and am not as scared to go in front of people as I was when I started. I was dreading doing English when I first came, and now I love doing it.
Emily Russin is an Editorial Consultant at Opportunity Education, editing and numerous OE publications and articles. With more than 20 years of experience editing and writing for print and online publications, Emily also works as a freelance manuscript consultant and writer in Seattle, Washington.