Students excel with new digital tools Peabody Learning Academy, Peabody, Massachusetts

Students excel with new digital tools


Digital courses and dedication put students on course for college or careers

Seith Bedard, Director

I was at the right place at the right time. Or was I? Just as I was finishing a master’s program on administrative management I found myself in a public forum where the concept for an alternative high school was proposed by Simon Mall Foundation. This group was going to give space in their local mall and build it out to become a school. They asked the mayor to fund the teachers’ salaries, which he immediately agreed to. Over the next several months I learned as much about this project as I could. By the time they were ready to hire a director, I was the best person for the job so they hired me. There was so much investment into the project; I felt tremendous pressure to ensure it was a success.


This year we have 20 students graduating and 16 of them are going on to college.



Peabody Learning Academy

Rigorous interactive online courses keep students engaged and graduating high school.

Peabody Learning Academy was ready to open its doors by October 2010. But getting students to buy into it and attend was another story. We had identified 150 potential students and found 14 parents willing to send their kids. These parents really had nothing to lose; their kids had already dropped out of high school. I will admit, those first few months you could find me most mornings going to the homes of my students to find out why they were not at school.

So the doors of the school were open, kids were coming to classes, but now I had the uphill battle of convincing community members that this was a worthwhile school and that the kids who attended were good people who deserved a second or third chance to complete high school. Many people thought we were a joke and a waste of money. Since we are in the local mall, many mothers with young children were hesitant to go to the mall in fear of running into what they thought were troubled teenagers.

But I wouldn’t give up, I was determined to make sure my students received a good education and that they would be prepared not just to graduate, but also be prepared to go on to college or some type of career. Each student has to sign a contract of accountability and responsibility. Their parents do too. I make sure each student learns what it takes to be a successful student and they use GradPoint, Pearson’s online curriculum, which engages and challenges them while they learn at their own pace. Plus I teach them how to be a contributing member of society by getting them involved in community service programs.

Since we opened our doors the district’s dropout rate has decreased from 7 percent to 1.9 percent.


A digital learning solution for grades 6-12

This online learning platform helps teachers spend more time on what’s really important, students earn or recover credits and master required skills, and administrators reduce dropout rates and meet on-time graduation targets.
Learn more about GradPoint