The 2021-2022 school year is the inaugural year for Ridgefield School District’s newest school, Wisdom Ridge Academy. Offering a wide range of new possibilities for Ridgefield students, this flexible alternative learning program for grades K-12 is already very popular with families, with more than 160 students enrolled in the specialized program. Now, thanks to a partnership with the Port of Ridgefield, Wisdom Ridge Academy is housed in a newly-constructed building with access to many shared resources including classroom and meeting spaces, workshops, and training opportunities.
The school’s new location is in a state-of-the-art development by the Port of Ridgefield located at 5645 S 11th Street in Suite A-101. In addition to Wisdom Ridge, the building also provides space for RSD’s Innovation Ridge Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program. The airy, open classrooms and flexible meeting and learning areas offer a variety of ways to configure each space.
The new building also includes recording and audio/video studios, an engineering/fabrication lab, and even a health science/biomedical classroom that can be used across multiple programs from Ridgefield schools and the Port of Ridgefield. Opening day was especially exciting, as Wisdom Ridge moved all of its operations from two crowded portables on the South Ridge Elementary School campus to a brand-new, dedicated space for hands-on learning.
The partnership with the Port of Ridgefield provides a host of new community relationship and partnership opportunities for Wisdom Ridge and the CAPS programs. The Port’s training center is located on the other side of the building, allowing students to take advantage of training and partnership opportunities with the Port and other area businesses.
“We want our students to be able to explore opportunities outside of the typical school environment, for teachers and students to develop relationships and build community partnerships,” said Jessica Drake, RSD’s Director of Alternative Learning Experiences (ALE) and Business Partnerships. “We can all see what a wonderful opportunity this will provide for our students.”
Wisdom Ridge Academy is a choice program that is focused on serving the Ridgefield community and requires a high level of parental/family involvement. Its mission is to provide high quality, flexible learning options that suit the needs of individual students and their families.
At Wisdom Ridge, families are their children’s co-educators. While the majority of learning takes place in the home, Ridgefield teachers still provide supervision, academic support, and see students for in-person weekly check-ins and monthly progress reports. The program is not rigid with a strictly bound daily schedule, nor is it a purely online learning program administered exclusively through third party online learning platforms.
“Wisdom Ridge is a flexible school that meets the needs of more people in different ways,” said Drake. “Wisdom Ridge gives students and families more choices, with flexible schedules and online learning programs across a wide range of classes and electives, as well as in-person enrichment and other learning opportunities.”
Wisdom Ridge has three different learning platforms: Accelerate Education (for all grades K-12), Edmentum (for grades 6-12), and eDynamic Learning (for secondary advanced electives). Students work with administrators to determine which platforms and classes will best serve their needs. For K-8 students, there is more direct interaction with a Ridgefield-based teacher, providing ongoing guidance and support for all of their classes.
For high school students with more flexibility and responsibility, courses are more likely to be handled with class teachers through the online learning platform. In addition to online classes, all students can choose whether to take part in optional in-person enrichment activities one or two days a week at the new Wisdom Ridge site.
Wisdom Ridge is not the same as Ridgefield Remote, which provided online and hybrid learning early in the pandemic while schools were ordered closed to in-person learning. With Ridgefield Remote, teachers led online or hybrid classes through existing Ridgefield schools. Wisdom Ridge is a new school in the Ridgefield School District, providing a full and focused learning curriculum, with the majority of its courses online.
However, because Wisdom Ridge is part of the school district, students still have the ability to participate in extracurricular activities (like sports or theater) or to take some of their classes (such as band or choir) at other Ridgefield schools. Drake is fully supportive of student participation in other classes and programs across the school district. “The answer is always yes,” she said, “and we’ll figure out how to make it happen.”
Wisdom Ridge allows each student to continue to achieve the same state standards and Common Core goals as they would receive with in-person school, but with a more flexible schedule. This flexibility does require families to commit to working with Wisdom Ridge to ensure their student stays on track with scheduled classes and grades.
“We want to develop a learning partnership with families,” Drake explained. “With an individualized curriculum, the families drive what is happening. We want to partner with them to build a successful learning community for all of our students.”
Wisdom Ridge Academy is proud to open the door to many new opportunities for Ridgefield students. With a flexible, high-quality academic program focused on individualized learning and community partnerships, students at Wisdom Ridge are setting their courses toward a brighter future.