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ResponsiveEd’s Premier High School at American YouthWorks has opened the door to new possibilities for senior Jasmine Ryan. When she came to the school as a freshman, she was grades behind and struggling in math and science. Two years later she is preparing to graduate and looking to pursue a career in engineering.

Jasmine had just returned from Thailand and was trying to figure out how to catch up. When she receive a letter in the mail explaining Premier’s self-paced approach and the possibility of catching up on credits, she thought it might be meant for her.

“I thought I would try it out for the first year and see how well I liked it. Then I found out I actually liked the system and how it works because I have always worked better on my own. So I have stayed with it ever since,” explained Jasmine.

In the five years Jennifer Kasapi has been a campus director at Premier High School, she has seen many students benefit from the personalized education Premier High School offers.

“Jasmine is a shining example of what motivation and willingness to ask for help can get you. I challenge my students to set goals and figure out what it will take to reach them. Every one of them can be successful regardless of what their background is,” said Ms. Kasapi.

Premier High School students work through knowledge units, taking tests to demonstrate mastery. When they score high enough on the exams, they move on to the next level.

As she worked through the units at her own pace, Jasmine has gained confidence in her academic abilities.

“It was both teachers giving me individual explanations and me working through it on my own. In the packets you get for each subject, it tells you how you are supposed to apply it and how you are supposed to do it. I didn’t really get that in the regular schools because I always thought they were going too fast for me to understand. By having the time to read the instructions, actually learn the process and understand the problem, I was able to grasp math and science better,” said Jasmine.

Because she had struggled in math and science, Jasmine had dismissed the idea of becoming an engineer even though many of her family members worked in engineering. But thanks to her newfound confidence, she plans to join her family members in the field.

“It was definitely not something I was thinking about back then when I was struggling in them. But since getting a better understanding of math and science, I realized I can definitely do this,” said Jasmine.

Through the personalized education experience, she has been able to accelerate her high school experience and complete her freshman, sophomore and junior years in two years.

Not only did Premier help Jasmine academically, but it also exposed her to other opportunities through American YouthWorks (AYW) which partners with Premier High School at their shared campus on East Ben White Boulevard.

AYW provides young people with workforce training, education and service opportunities. In partnering with Premier High Schools to bring a Premier school to the AYW campus, students have access to high school. The Premier High School students also have the opportunity to take part in AYW programs.

YouthBuild is one of the programs that provides career training opportunities with two routes. Casa Verde Builders provides students with construction experience and Media Corps provides students with basic computer hardware repair and refurbishing, graphics and web design, computer programing, video shooting and editing. The students practice what they learned through projects meant to serve low-income families and earn a wage for their work.

Jasmine considered becoming part of YouthBuild, but was hesitant because it would double her school day. At Premier High Schools, students spend four hours of their day at the school. With the remainder of the day, students focus on work, projects, and additional training AYW makes available.

Every Premier student is required to complete 10 hours of community service. On September 11, Premier High School at American YouthWorks students had the opportunity volunteer with YouthBuild. Jasmine chose to take part and worked on the elderly’s gardens at the Rebekah Baines Johnson Center.

“I really ended up liking it. And I decided YouthBuild would be a really good program for me to do because I liked how it worked,” said Jasmine.

Through the program she is learning how to use different computer programs that she hopes will help her later when she starts her career.

“I have many interests such as engineering and film. In those careers you have to be able to use computers. So I think this is a really good experience for those kinds of jobs,” she said.

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