Jemar Lee


I know a student who was disengaged, felt without purpose, and was angry at the traditional education system. That student was me.

Jemar Lee

I didn't like or excel at school without agency or voice in my learning... (while) having my potential based on the "average" student. Angrily, I rebelled against the system year after year, struggling academically and behaviorally. It nearly led to expulsion from (my) traditional high school until I found Iowa BIG, a learner-centered program.

At BIG I could access online courses, but our main learning was through blended learning with passion projects... solving community issues. I was getting a C in traditional English class before I went to BIG, but immediately excelled when I was given agency, voice, and choice in my learning. My first project was the opportunity to create an architectural design of our learning environment. I attended seminars at times that worked for me, did research at my own pace, had one-on-one sessions with mentors, accessed online learning courses, and had agency of my learning. And, best of all, I was not judged (against) on the "average" student. I was getting an A and excelling.

Blended and online learning is one step forward to transform our education system to better serve many students.

Blended and online learning works well for students who don't excel in the traditional education environment, as well as those who do. Some students aren't good test takers, aren't successful at sitting at a desk all day, or aren't good at being given direct instruction and told how to do something. Some do very well at those things, but want to move ahead (more quickly). Often, students have circumstances outside of school that greatly impact their everyday lives, and blended and online learning allows them to accommodate those circumstances more easily. (They allow) those students who prefer moving to the next standard at their own pace and having choice and voice over what they learn.



Cedar Rapids, IA


Iowa BIG


Kirkwood Community College