Scott Vandenberg leading Lynden Academy

Scott Vandenberg leading Lynden Academy
Posted on 09/06/2016
In his own words, the new principal of Lynden Academy, Scott Vandenberg, calls the kindergarten through 12th grade school within the Lynden School District a “blended learning environment.”

“We are working with people who like to home educate,” he says. “We have classes available for K through 12 where they are able to have a mixture of home education and classroom instruction.”

The model at Lynden Academy allows for classroom teachers in K-5 to support the work of homeschool parents, where a lot of the work is done from home. The 6-12 grades have more leadership from the classroom teacher, where the work at home follows the path set in the classroom.

“I am trying to make sure the kids are where they need to be to graduate successfully and be great citizens in our community and beyond,” Vandenberg says of his new role. “I make sure they have a well-rounded program.”

Vandenberg comes to Lynden Schools after living in Lynden since 2008. He had been commuting into British Columbia, Canada, and working at an online school with a similar flavor and idea to Lynden Academy. There they had classes, student learning plans and much of the same structure of supporting the blended learning environment, but in a larger scale. Having the chance to end his daily commute north and work in his own community was an opportunity he didn’t want to pass up.

“I love working with homeschoolers,” he says. “This opportunity was available and blended learning with homeschool and classes was a drawing card. Knowing the people in the community, I knew the Lynden School District is a great place to work.”

He started in his new position in July and has been hard at work ever since, learning the ins and outs of not just Lynden Academy, but Washington state rules.

For the roughly 250 students who attend Lynden Academy, Vandenberg appreciates how they can individualize instruction to each student’s abilities. “There is an element of when they are in the class that there are days teachers are able to focus on a strength or an ability that they might not be able to do in the school system,” Vandenberg says. “A lot of kids learn differently and can learn at their own pace, a quicker pace or with a different style. It is exciting they can have a program and they can grow at their own speed.”

Some students have worked ahead because they don’t have to follow grade level instruction as tightly as a traditional classroom and others spend more time on areas where they are weaker. The structure allows families to bring students in for classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, dedicating time to allowing parents to teach kids at home and get their work done from the classes. Fridays classes involve unit-based studies ranging from track and field 101 to studying micro-organisms under the microscope. Plus, there's also art and music.

Certified teachers are at Lynden Academy Monday through Friday working with with middle and high school students Mondays and Wednesdays and elementary students Tuesdays and Thursdays. The teachers work alongside home educators in supporting learning that takes place on the days that students are not in class. "It's great having parents partnering with teachers to provide a great education for home schooled students of the Lynden School District," he says.

As Vandenberg leads Lynden Academy, he’ll oversee some changes too. Currently the school meets in leased space on South B.C. Avenue, but will transition to leasing space from City Bible Church at the corner of Main Street and Guide Meridian Road sometime in late October, allowing for larger classrooms, a foyer area for a dedicated entry and meeting space, outdoor fields and a gymnasium, making it “more conducive to what we like to do.”

Beyond that, Vandenberg says he aims to solidify the program for the entire K-12 population, such as extending Friday’s model beyond K-8 and into K-12. “I have an incredible staff with great ideas and great programming,” he says. “I want to add to that and build this program up to be a real top-notch offering for families in Lynden.”

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