Meet JEDI! This membership spotlight features Kim Anderson, Student Services Coordinator, and Jamie Syvrud, Director of Technology.
What does the company do? What products/services do you offer?
JEDI is a non-for-profit charter school that works collaboratively with school districts in Wisconsin to provide online learning opportunities to elementary, middle, and high school students. JEDI offers all core subjects and a variety of elective classes. Virtual students also have the opportunity to participate in dual credit courses, seven world language options, and over 30 advanced placement courses.
All of their online courses are taught by Wisconsin certified, experienced teachers. All course curriculum aligns with DPI and state standards. During the 2018-2019 school year, there were 750 enrolled students with a 90% retention rate. As of September 2019, students can choose from 696 course options taught by 49 Certified teachers.
The JEDI Learning Team crafts personalized learning plans tailored to each child. Students receive one-on-one support through their student services coordinator, teacher, learning coach, and tech support. Teachers hold weekly office hours, provide prompt grading, and provide quality feedback.
Who do you serve? Who is your target market?
JEDI serves students throughout the state of Wisconsin and provide online learning opportunities from 4K to 12th grade. Students who are residents of the consortium school districts graduate with a diploma from their own district, while other students who live outside the districts are able to open enroll and receive a diploma from the chartering school district, Lake Mills Area. Students who live within the consortium districts are also able to access their districts extracurricular activities.
JEDI consists of 15 consortium school districts throughout Wisconsin. These districts include: Beloit Turner, Burlington, Evansville, Fort Atkinson, Jefferson, Lake Mills, Luxemburg-Casco, Marshall, Mauston, Milton, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, and Waterloo.
Some of the virtual students want to drive their own education and are motivated to learn. These students are able to take courses that align with their interests and provide preparation for college or careers. The virtual curriculum provides students with educational opportunities above and beyond their district’s current offerings.
Other virtual students benefit from a non-traditional experience and personalized education plan. For NCAA student athletes, the personal education plans allow students to pursue an educational path that supports their life goals and learning style.
The following are a few key reasons why students choose JEDI:
• Desire to complete courses at an accelerated pace
• Are home-schooled and want access to district activities
• Need additional curricular or advanced placement offering
• Desire flexible online scheduling options
• Access to local district WIAA sports
• Are homebound or medically fragile
• Are at-risk of not graduating in the traditional setting
Who is the team?
JEDI is supported by a team of 60 individuals with about 40-50 certified teachers, 10 student service providers, and 10 leadership positions.
Why did you start your company? How has the company evolved?
In 1995, the Jefferson Eastern Dane Interactive network (JEDI) began as a consortium of nine school districts in Southern Wisconsin. JEDI was founded by superintendents who were looking to expand their student offerings. As the first school of its kind in Wisconsin, JEDI offered its first education class during the 1996-1997 school year.
JEDI embraced online education early on and continues to evolve to meet the needs of students and new technology. In 1996, the first education class started with a room of students watching the course on TV. By 2006, JEDI moved its curriculum to e-learning software.
What is your favorite thing about your job and/or the company?
Kim Anderson, the Student Services Coordinator, “Loves the variety – no two days look the same,” and “loves helping kids who would not be successful in the traditional setting, but are able to graduate through the non-traditional means.”
Jamie Syvrud, Director of JEDI Virtual Learning, “appreciates that we can offer kids in smaller districts the opportunity to take classes that only larger districts offer. It’s a way of leveling the playing field.”
Why do you work out of an incubator? And more importantly, why the Whitewater University Innovation Center?
JEDI was brought to the Whitewater University Innovation Center by CESA #2. As a charter school, JEDI was required to have a physical address and moved into the Innovation Center in February 2011.
Have you collaborated or partnered with other clients at the Innovation Center?
JEDI collaborates and works closely with CESA #2 as a fiscal agent, but the relationship continues to evolve and develop. CESA Purchasing also helps market virtual classes to school districts outside the consortium, who are eligible for part-time open enrollment.
What was your company's latest and greatest achievement?
Jamie Syvrud was recently hired as the Director of JEDI Virtual Learning in August 2019. Jamie is ready for a new challenge! Previously, Jamie was the Director of Learning and Student Services with the Lake Mills Area School District.
What inspires you to keep going, pursuing your dream?
The team enjoys, “meeting student’s needs in an ever-changing world.”
One student is aspiring to be a NCAA hockey player who attended JEDI so that he could travel around the country playing hockey his senior year. He plans on completing 2 years of college online while playing junior hockey to start and hopes to eventually attend a D1 school and study finance. In his senior reflections, he wrote about his travel experiences and how beneficial it was for him to see new places and make new connections while attending online school.
Another student aspired to a career in home energy auditing and/or home inspection. While pursuing his education online, he had an internship where he learned trade skills: painting, carpentry, demolition, tiling, and maintenance work.