Why do a semester away?

Alzar School | 18.09.18


I’m currently on the road (in Charlotte at the moment) with the mission of educating schools, prospective students, and their families about the benefits of an Alzar School experience.  I’ve gotten to visit some beautiful campuses over the past week (both public and private) and even had the opportunity to observe a class at a middle school in Greensboro.

In meeting with teachers, students, and administrators, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss specifically the benefits of joining the Alzar School.  But, I’ve also had the opportunity to reflect on why a semester away from a traditional school, whether or not at Alzar, could be beneficial.  There are several semester schools out there, each with a different theme and emphasis.  Kristin and I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with the founders of several of these schools and have been impressed.  Each school appeals to students looking for a different experience.

I think that a semester away is really a benefit to students who hit sophomore or junior year and lose motivation.  At that point, the coursework really steps it up a notch, and it is easy to forget why education is important.  At the Alzar School, we view academic education as the first step towards being an effective leader.  If a student can have a strong academic foundation, they will be able to tackle significant projects in their home community and around the globe.

So, if sometime during that “middle of high school” time period, a student loses touch with the reason they are learning, a semester away may be the perfect opportunity to reset the clock.  Sometimes a student just needs some time away from the comfortable and familiar to re-energize.  There is a similar concept that is very popular in Europe (and growing in popularity in the United States) known as the “Gap Year.”  A semester away is a similar experience, but it allows students to continue earning the credits they need for graduation, but in a different setting.  Having taught in the high school setting, it is obvious that many teenagers could really use some time to get away from their traditional setting.

By surrounding themselves with other students looking for a similar experience, a student can inject some life into the rest of their academic career.  They can pick up valuable skills that will help them succeed in high school and prepare them for college (and life after college).  Kristin and I founded the Alzar School with the idea that if teenagers are given the chance to challenge themselves, they will raise up and accomplish amazing things.  The Alzar School’s semester away experience allows them to do just that!

Sean Bierle
Head Teacher