At public school Sapphire was doing well academically but gained no satisfaction in focusing on grades, or in working with teachers she felt no connection to. The unending avalanche of homework also left no space for discovering her life’s passion and she often sensed that something important was missing. Given the freedom to experiment and grow through self-direction, she gave a lot more time to artistic pursuits. Her association at Bucks Learning Cooperative with performing artists her own age bolstered her resolve to audition and win a leading role with a regional theater company.

Sapphire moved on from BLC in spring 2019 to attend The College of New Jersey.

Testimonial by Shelby Roberts, Sapphire’s mom:

When we went around the table at Thanksgiving to say what we were thankful for, my daughter’s answer was BLC. That statement signified a major change from where we had been at the start of the school year. I was concerned about finding the right place for my daughter for High School and had investigated a few private schools in 8th grade. None of the ones we could afford seemed to provide a superior option to the public school. 3 weeks into public High School, I started questioning my decision. My daughter was having the dual problem of being both burnt out and bored. The academics weren’t challenging enough and she was getting made fun of for asking for more challenging assignments, even in the “advanced” classes. After spending her afternoons in clubs and activities, she came home to complete all the busywork assignments needed for the gradebook.

We tried negotiating with the school first for modifications to suit her, but since she was at the top of her class, not struggling, we got brushed aside and told, “She’s smart, she’ll be fine, don’t worry”. But I did worry, because my bright enthusiastic child complained every day about the uselessness of school. So I went to a BLC info session and signed her up for shadow day. We both agreed it was the right fit and she was member the following Monday.

Since then I can see real and meaningful changes in the way my daughter approaches her education. First she no longer compartmentalizes school and life. The way she uses technology is a great example. Before BLC, technology was how she “detoxed” from school. The computer/ipad/phone was used for school work only if there was a very specific assignment due and then the minimal information needed to score the A was obtained and then abandoned to get on with her relaxing. Now in the evenings, she is just as likely to be on U-Tube to look up a documentary or watch an extra video related to something she saw in class at BLC as she is to be watching one of those “reality type utubers” so popular with teens today. She doesn’t need to set boundaries on learning because learning is a natural, integrated and enjoyable part of her life.

Second she is totally engaged with the things she has chosen to learn. In public high school there was a standard script of classes she had to take, very few options for “electives”- the stuff she was most interested in. At BLC she gets to choose her path. She’s a budding actor so studying Shakespeare for English. Biology and Earth science she would have been compelled to take in public school have been replaced with physics and psychology. Art history is evolving from an interest to a passion. She doesn’t like math but she already scored decently on the SATs so we’ve agreed that she will take a breather from that. I trust she’ll come back to it if she needs it. My guess is she’ll start to ask about statistics when reading psychology papers or Geometry relative to Art.

I’ll admit I was a little worried when we decided to go the BLC path that my traditionally successful child would “slack off”. The longer she is a member, the more this worry goes away. BLC provides mentorship and exposure to new ideas through classes and field study which I could not have provided at home and our public school didn’t offer. As a result, my daughter is working really hard on things that give her the most fulfillment and joy. She works hard for herself, not for me or to get the “A”. She gauges her success on her own terms. I have every confidence that this path is setting her up to be a self-motivated, critical and independent thinker, which is what she needs to be successful at life…. And college too.