Raj Solanki • Principal
Applied Scholastics Spanish Lake alumnus Raj Solanki gives us an update on his activities since graduating the Fundamentals of Instruction course in 2013.
Raj is currently the Principal of an alternative education high school, Community Prep Charter School, in Colorado Springs, Colorado that services 200 students.
The purpose of the school is to help re-engage at-risk students, who for a variety of reasons did not make it in public high school, and ensure they complete their high school education and receive a diploma.
The school’s model is unique in that students engage in self-paced learning instead of traditional classroom instruction.
An educator since 1998, Raj began working at Community Prep as an English teacher in 2010. In his search to better assist his at-risk high school students he discovered Study Technology and learned about Applied Scholastics.
In 2013, Raj submitted a proposal to the school’s principal and received approval to get Study Technolgy training at Applied Scholastics Spanish Lake utilizing the school’s funds for the professional development of its faculty.
Raj spent four weeks at the Applied Scholastics training campus in the summer of 2013 and completed the full course line-up to become an APS certified Course Instructor, as well as training on how to write a checksheet and how to teach remedial reading with the APS Teaching Modern Phonics program.
“Finally, I knew what I was dealing with, what the real problem was with my students.”
Armed with the knowledge, tools and the honed skills necessary to better assist his students, Raj returned back to his classroom excited for the new school year.
His implementation plan was simple: ensure that words were clearly defined for his students at the beginning of assignments, observe, identify and handle any study barriers that they manifest and help them on an individual basis to fill in any gaps from previous education failures.
By helping his students focus on the benefits of literacy and how that would help them achieve their personal goals, he knew he could make a lasting difference in their future.
In doing so, Raj’s students started to realize that they weren’t actually bad at a subject or couldn’t learn something once they had the tools to understand the information. In fact, the most popular course among the students became the U.S. History course that Raj compiled in checksheet format - infused with all of the tools he learned at Applied Scholastics.
The new course, unlike the raw curriculum it was based on, not only addressed studying with the mass, gradients and defined words, but ensured the subject matter was related to the students real-world.
As a result, the students who took it were interested and engaged in U.S. History – a first for all of them - excited to study it and all moved swiftly and successfully through completion.
Raj says that after his training at Spanish Lake, he felt empowered as an educator.
“My training made me competent in helping 'students' become learners.
“As an educator, I struggled for a long-time with the purpose of schooling - as it didn’t seem an effective method to actually educate students. My Applied Scholastics training helped me understand at a very basic level what learning actually is and how it equips one. It isn’t about the subjects themselves, it’s the ability to grasp the basics, think with information as a means to gain a broader understanding and to use the information.
"I learned how to effectively communicate to my students the basics of something and how to ensure they duplicated it.
“Through my training, I ultimately learned leadership skills that I would most definitely use in dealing with my students and also my fellow colleagues.”
Community Prep Charter School
In 2020, mid the pandemic, Raj enthusiastically accepted the leadership position of Principal at Community Prep Charter School and his future plans for the school are clear: get Study Technology implemented at all levels among the students and all staff.
In working to make this a reality, Raj will be returning to
Applied Scholastics Educator Institute at Spanish Lake this month to get the recertification he needs to conduct the Study Tech training of his staff, as well as provide introductory courses to all of the students (as well as all incoming students) enrolled at Community Prep Charter School.
When asked what message he had for educators struggling to help their students, Raj said:
“As educators, we don’t realize how much of what we say and the words we use is a problem for our students. It’s so easy to change what we do in order to help them.
"This Applied Scholastics training gives teachers an awareness of how to help a student become a better learner. When you are in the classroom and you see a student drift off and lose focus, you have the tools to address it there and then.
"The basic principles of learning found in Study Technology should be a part of the training for every staff member in a school.”