A Conversation with Brad Rathgeber

Mr. Rathgeber making his presentation.

Brad Rathgeber has experience in bringing out the best characteristics of independent schools.

As Director of the Online School for Girls (OSG),  which was founded in the winter of 2009, Mr. Rathgeber is responsible for “the world’s first single-gender online school and the world’s first online independent school.”  The school offers about a dozen full-year courses, including AP Calculus, AP Psychology, Latin, Japanese, and Global Issues, as well as a variety of semester courses.

Mr. Rathgeber visited St. Luke’s on Monday, the 24th, to introduce his program to the Board of Trustees. For us here on the Hilltop- where online classes have only recently begun to be offered (see this article), Mr. Rathgeber’s visit was an insightful experience. It shed light not only on the benefits of online courses, but also reinforced our belief in our mission statement as an independent school.

The Sentinel had a chance to interview Mr. Rathgeber to ask him more about the OSG. For any girls interested in taking an online class with the OSG, take a second to check out the OSG site.

Sentinel: How would you explain the Online School for Girls (OSG) to the SLS student body?

Brad Rathgeber: It is a consortium effort of 69 schools around the United States and abroad. Teachers from these 69 schools instruct the students within our online school. The OSG allows for students to have the opportunity to take more courses outside of school, and interact with different peers and teachers. Furthermore, the teachers who are a part of this program can extend their teaching range.

S: Why is this program selectively offered to girls?

BR: We decide to focus our program around the ideas of single gender education by creating classrooms that are particular to the ways girls learn best. Research shows girls learn best when they feel connected, when they can collaborate, and when the content of the course is tied to real-world applications. For this reason, the OSG focuses its classes round the principles of connection, collaboration, creativity, and application. Boys often learn in a different way.

S: What makes your online school different from other online schools other than the fact that it’s selectively for girls? What makes it better?

BR: The OSG is modeled after independent girls’ schools, which have a unique and beneficial system of learning that focuses on the principles we believe in. For example, each of our classes is relatively small in size, with no more than twenty students. The relationships are central to our learning process, especially those with teachers and with other students in a class.

S: What is your reaction to critics who claim that online classes cannot provide the same benefits of interaction that a student receives in a normal classroom?

BR: I think these critics are often right, but are not in this specific case. Our classes are small and class relationships are developed fully. They are far more interactive than many classes in public schools are that contain more than twenty students per class. The question is not about whether or not you use technology, but how you use it.

S: How intense and rigorous is the workload in your online school as compared to regular schools?

BR: Our course loads are just as challenging as normal school workloads, if not more.

S: What did you hope to achieve by visiting SLS?

BR: I didn’t hope to achieve a specific goal, but just wanted to make sure that independent schools, like SLS, can continue to do what they do best. Independent schools give students an entirely different school experience than do public schools. There is a focus on interactions, collaboration, and application.

 —Khush Dhaliwal, Staff Writer

Posted by on September 27, 2012. Filed under School News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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