Omaha teacher opening ‘microschool’ out of her house


High school math teacher Hannah Holguin was facing a problem without a simple solution. “I felt unfulfilled as a teacher because I wasn’t able to give my kids what they needed,” Holguin said.Holguin has spent nine years teaching public school in Omaha and Council Bluffs. But this year will be her last. She feels schools aren’t investing in what she says students need most – emotional support. “It’s an exhausting environment to feel the weight of all the needs of the kids, the parents, the community,” Holguin said. Holguin is opening a “microschool,” called Masterpiece Academy. When homeschooling isn’t an option, families can send their kids to Holguin’s living room-turned-classroom. She will teach a group of kindergarten through second graders and a group of high school students starting this fall. Holguin said it gives them a chance to learn at their own pace. “I’m tired,” said Holguin, a mother of two with another on the way. “But at the same time, like there’s a spark in me that’s ready for change.”Olivia Rivera, 17, is also embracing change. She lives with anxiety and was struggling through school. “I felt like it was hard trying to explain to teachers to parents how we feel because they’ve never been through a pandemic,” Olivia said. Olivia’s mom, Guadalupe, pulled her out of public school. Now, Olivia is one of the first students enrolled at Masterpiece Academy. She will graduate with a standard diploma and hopes to enter the trades and someday be her own boss. “The more we’ve learned about it, the more it absolutely fits our needs,” said Guadalupe Rivers. “And, so, yes, I was nervous at the beginning that no right now, I’m 100% on board with this.”Holguin said she has to unlearn much of what she was taught about education and hopes a small, individualized setting can allow her to focus on students’ emotional needs. She said parent and community support will be important for supplementing elective classes and counseling needs. Getting comfortable with change, Holguin said, is a lesson worth learning. The goal, Holguin said, is not millions of microschools. But she believes big changes are underway in education and hopes schools will embrace self-paced learning. “I want to see them walk away with 21st century skills, I want them to be able to solve problems, I want them to be able to think creatively, I want them to be able to communicate their needs,” Holguin said.

High school math teacher Hannah Holguin was facing a problem without a simple solution.

“I felt unfulfilled as a teacher because I wasn’t able to give my kids what they needed,” Holguin said.

Holguin has spent nine years teaching public school in Omaha and Council Bluffs. But this year will be her last. She feels schools aren’t investing in what she says students need most – emotional support.

“It’s an exhausting environment to feel the weight of all the needs of the kids, the parents, the community,” Holguin said.

Holguin is opening a “microschool,” called Masterpiece Academy. When homeschooling isn’t an option, families can send their kids to Holguin’s living room-turned-classroom. She will teach a group of kindergarten through second graders and a group of high school students starting this fall. Holguin said it gives them a chance to learn at their own pace.

“I’m tired,” said Holguin, a mother of two with another on the way. “But at the same time, like there’s a spark in me that’s ready for change.”

Olivia Rivera, 17, is also embracing change. She lives with anxiety and was struggling through school.

“I felt like it was hard trying to explain to teachers to parents how we feel because they’ve never been through a pandemic,” Olivia said.

Olivia’s mom, Guadalupe, pulled her out of public school. Now, Olivia is one of the first students enrolled at Masterpiece Academy. She will graduate with a standard diploma and hopes to enter the trades and someday be her own boss.

“The more we’ve learned about it, the more it absolutely fits our needs,” said Guadalupe Rivers. “And, so, yes, I was nervous at the beginning that no right now, I’m 100% on board with this.”

Holguin said she has to unlearn much of what she was taught about education and hopes a small, individualized setting can allow her to focus on students’ emotional needs. She said parent and community support will be important for supplementing elective classes and counseling needs. Getting comfortable with change, Holguin said, is a lesson worth learning.

The goal, Holguin said, is not millions of microschools. But she believes big changes are underway in education and hopes schools will embrace self-paced learning.

“I want to see them walk away with 21st century skills, I want them to be able to solve problems, I want them to be able to think creatively, I want them to be able to communicate their needs,” Holguin said.


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