Myron B. Thompson Academy, commonly referred to as Thompson Academy or MBTA, is an e-learning institution operating as a "New Century Public Charter School" under the Hawaiʻi Department of Education. Thompson Academy is the result of a white paper study developed by the school's principal, Diana Oshiro, detailing the feasibility of a school delivered over the internet. Established in 1999 as Hawaii e-Charter, Thompson Academy is available to students across the state of Hawaiʻi exclusively through the internet, as an alternative-of-choice to local schools. The school is currently accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The concept for Thompson Academy predates the inception of Hawaiʻi's E-School system. In 1994, state Assistant Superintendent Diana Oshiro began writing a white paper discussing the use of the internet as a medium to deliver courses. This white paper later went on to win a five-year grant from the US Department of Education and became what is now known as the Hawaiʻi E-School system, the collaboration between the Hawaiʻi Department of Education and US Department of Education to create, test and provide supplemental courses over the internet.
E-School was largely considered a success in delivering courses. Five years later, as the federal grant was concluding, those responsible for E-School's success began investigating the viability and sustainability of a virtual charter school, based on lessons learned from the project. From this investigation, the development of a charter quickly progressed, with a statewide Hawaiʻi e-Charter being brought to fruition in 1999 and granted a charter by the Hawaiʻi Department of Education in 2000.
As word spread of the new virtual school, Hawaiʻi e-Charter began to see explosive growth, multiplying its enrollments year-over-year. In 2002 Hawaiʻi e-Charter renamed itself Myron B. Thompson Academy, paying homage to Hawaiʻi educator and former trustee of Kamehameha Schools, Myron "Pinky" B. Thompson. In that same year, the school began offering elementary education, for students entering kindergarten through grade six.
As a virtual institution, Thompson Academy is markedly different from its traditional counterparts in secondary education, so much so that it has begun to proliferate a broader spectrum of potential students. While teachers and other hallmarks of education remain in the formation of this school, it can largely be considered innovative in the landscape of education in Hawaiʻi.
Thompson Academy provides two unique schools of education, a home school based elementary program and an online secondary program (high school). Together, these two schools provide a full, alternative solution to compulsory education.
Thompson Academy's unique attributes continue to spark the interest of students in Hawaiʻi. Notably, features that have attracted students and families to the school are:
Although Thompson Academy is principally located in Honolulu (Oʻahu), the school has several satellite campuses where students can receive additional help and tutoring from site teachers and socialize with other students. Satellite campuses are located on the neighboring islands of Maui, the Big Island and Kauaʻi. These satellite campuses facilitate the majority of educational needs and support required by outer-island students.
Thompson Academy provides a small number of extracurricular student activities, including:
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