SHAPA Middle School

Grades 6-8

Meet the Middle School Teachers:

Joel Blaha

Position: Middle School Mentor Teacher

Education:  BS in Economics, M.Ed Education

About:  Joel had a career in sales and project management before pursuing his passion for teaching and curriculum several years ago.  He loves seeing students develop and grow as students and people, and especially enjoys helping them to develop independent and creative thinking skills in fun and interactive ways.  His many interests include riddles, improv, ancient languages, philosophy, weightlifting, playing the piano, singing, dancing, travel, and how to be the kind of person that helps those around him flourish.

Amy Van Dyke

Position: Middle School Mentor Teacher,

Education: BS in Environmental Science, MA in Teaching

About: Ms. Van Dyke has spent several years working with online students and enjoys helping students succeed with their educational goals. She has worked in education for over 15 years at all levels from preschool to adult students.

Frequently Asked Questions

Teachers are available by email, instant messaging, text, and phone during working hours. Students and caregivers can reach out with any questions, for help on assignments, or to request an individual zoom meeting at any time.

No. SHAPA families have the choice to participate in our typical middle school curriculum plan. Families can also customize their curriculum as needed by choosing to select their own curriculum to use (see our Curriculum Options). Often, students will choose to take one or more classes with us directly, and one or more classes where their caregivers are the direct teachers. Some students participate in outside homeschooling programs. These students can also participate in our courses. We will work with your family to find a solution that works best.

Typical schedule for middle school students:

    1. ELA

    2. History

    3. Math

    4. Science

    5. Health/PE

    6. Elective

    7. Homeroom

    8. 8th only: Career Explorations

You can use it! We work with caregivers to decide which classes they want from us, and which, if any, they want using other curriculum. We work to support the student and caregiver as they implement their chosen curriculum. Caregivers work with teachers to assign grades.

Yes. If a family prefers to use curriculum not on our typical middle school plan, SHAPA provides a stipend for purchasing curriculum for families to use with their student. We provide a pre-approved list of curriculum options. If you wish to use curriculum not currently listed, please check with us before purchasing to ensure that we will reimburse your curriculum choice. Generally speaking, most curriculum gets approved for reimbursement. We legally cannot reimburse for non-secular curriculum.

For more information, please check out our Curriculum Options.

Our typical middle school plan uses teacher-created courses in the learning platform, Canvas, for the majority of their classes. These Canvas-based classes focus on engaging students actively in assignments with teacher support and feedback. Some classes are also available through the Edgenuity learning platform, Moby Max, and RAZ (Reading A to Z). Students are also welcome to use their own homeschool-style curriculum; caregivers and teachers work together to choose the best options for their students.

Each synchronous Canvas course has one 30-minute session per week per course. Courses that use zoom sessions include: ELA, History, Math, Science, and Homeroom.

Students enrolled in typical middle school classes are required to attend zoom meetings (about 30 minutes per week per class). All schoolwork can be completed at any time as long as it is completed by or before the due date. We have many students who benefit from working in the evening when they have more access to caregivers.

State testing is required unless the student’s caregiver fills out the opt out form. Please contact us if you need access to the form. State testing is encouraged. Testing helps support the school with complete testing percentages and student scores.

SHAPA students take STAR assessments three times per year. STAR is a math and reading adaptive assessment which shows students, caregivers, and teachers insights on areas of growth and areas of struggle. Students and caregivers can use the results to help plan their classes or ask for extra support for math or reading. 

We have virtual clubs available for students, such as Book Club and Coding Club. Students can choose to attend school-wide field trips. Middle school students have access to the internal school instant messaging system to connect with each other in their grade band. Students can also work with a teacher to create a club in their area of interest.

Students have many opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities. We provide a stipend for enrichment. These funds can cover entry or memberships for museums, zoos, aquariums, and aquatics centers. Students can also use the funds for taking extracurricular activities and classes. (See Curriculum Options.)

As a school, we provide opportunities for field trips. While many of these have been paused for pandemic protocol, SHAPA usually offers school-funded field trips to places like OMSI, the Oregon Zoo, and the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center. SHAPA takes a yearly 3-day Outdoor School trip to either the Hancock Field Station in the Oregon desert, or on the coast at the Coastal Discovery Center. In addition, SHAPA has travelled with EF Tours to many locations, including Greece, Peru, and the East Coast of the U.S.  

SHAPA students enroll for a variety of reasons, including wanting an extra challenge, the need for family flexibility, struggles with anxiety, or experiencing bullying at their previous school. We believe that prioritizing mental health is vital, and we help students to work towards health by consulting privately with their caregiver(s) and other support people to customize their school experience and learning environment in a way that supports their needs.   

Students who feel bored in class might be experiencing one of the following: the content of the course does not hold their interest, the content is too challenging, the content is too easy, or the learning environment is just not right for them. Sometimes switching to an online-based class where the student has more autonomy in their work pace as well as their break time can solve many issues. When needed, SHAPA teachers adjust student course levels in consultation with caregivers. 

We have a dedicated district staff person who provides specially designed instruction (SDI) with students weekly. All accommodations and modifications for students are followed. In addition, many items on IEPs or 504s are enhanced by the virtual school environment because students can take breaks, play music, move, stand, eat, or otherwise practice their best learning practices as needed without needing extra permission from their teachers. 

Students who are above grade level have the option of demonstrating their skill level through work samples, STAR assessments, and caregiver knowledge. When appropriate, students have the option of working in higher grade level courses or asking for extension work.

Additionally, 8th grade students can earn high school credit. Students can choose from several high school electives, and, when qualified, can also earn high school credit in English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Math.