the Olympia School District logo, a line drawing of the capitol dome with the Letters O, S, and D at the base


School District

1113 Legion Way SE
Olympia, WA 98501
Office: (360) 596-6100

Alternative Education

Options Abound for Many Different Learning Styles

For many years, schools that focused on different teaching styles have been termed “alternative programs.” In fact, researchers have demonstrated that students have many different kinds of learning styles and they aren’t simply traditional or alternative. Here are a few of the programs in the Olympia School District that take a different approach to learning.

Table of Contents


    Avanti High School

    Avanti High School Students

    Avanti High School is a performance standards school where students receive a personalized education. The small school size, dedicated and caring staff, and the use of learning plans and theme classes provides a challenging and motivating educational setting that focuses on a student's interests and strengths. Avanti, which is located on the first level of the Knox Building located on the corner of Legion and Eastside, serves about 140 students. At Avanti, students learn, and can demonstrate their learning, in a variety of ways. Student learning is tied to demonstration of competency and not tied to seat time. The curriculum is integrated, allowing students to work on and demonstrate competent skills in more than one area at a time. For more information, contact Avanti High School at 596-7900 or visit the Avanti High website.


    iConnect Academy

    iConnect Academy offers students the ability to earn their high school diploma in a flexible and supportive manner that helps students focus on a quality education that best meets their individual goals.  Students work on your courses anytime day or night, weekends, at home or anywhere a computer and online access is available.  Our highly skilled teachers work with students closely to help ensure students can learn at their own pace – more quickly where possible so the student isn’t bored, and more slowly where a student may need more support.  As a local online school, students also have the advantage of meeting individually with their teachers when face-to-face instruction would be most helpful. Our counselor also works closely with students and their families to help ensure that all students are working on a plan that moves them toward a diploma and on to college, additional training, or whatever the student’s goals might be after high school.  For more information, visit our website at Olympia Regional Learning Academy or contact (360) 596-7730.


    Jefferson Accelerated Math and Science (JAMS)

    Jefferson Accelerated Math and Science (JAMS) is an integrated 3-year middle school program designed to meet the unique academic, social, and emotional needs of adolescents who seek extra academic challenge. JAMS engages students in math and science problem-solving through engineering design challenges and the use of technology. Teachers in the program facilitate learning in an environment that develops imagination and critical thinking.

    JAMS students develop understanding of concepts and processes at their grade level and beyond to create innovative solutions to real-world problems. JAMS students learn to lead and work collaboratively with their peers. By 8th grade, students think like design engineers and have the skills necessary to present their work in public forums. Upon completion of the program, students have had a powerful academic experience that eases their transition to advanced classes in high school. 

    JAMS Mission Statement:

    Jefferson Accelerated Math and Science (JAMS) mission is to develop creativity and critical thinking while meeting the social and emotional needs of adolescents who seek extra academic challenge. JAMS develops curious, independent, self-reflective learners who can lead and collaborate.

    For more information regarding JAMS, check out this brief presentation or contact Principal Michael Cimino at 596-3200 or Vice Principal Ivy Bronemann at 596-3213. You can also visit the Jefferson Middle School website.

    Citizen Science Institute(CSI: Marshall)

    What is CSI?

    The Citizen Science Institute (CSI) is an Olympia School District-wide magnet, alternative program housed at Marshall Middle School.  It is multi-grade and consists of approximately 47-50 students and two teachers.  CSI teachers, students, and parents work together as a team to help students achieve their full potential.

    Through academically-challenging scientific and civic investigations, students become Citizen Scientists.  They develop a sense of place through place-based and service learning.  They understand and practice the philosophy of “interconnectedness,” that their actions can have both positive and negative consequences for their local and global communities.

    CSI Mission

    The mission of CSI is to develop youth leadership in science through field-based science investigations and civic literacy through action projects.  Students collaborate with scientists outside the classroom to apply the skills and concepts they have learned to real world projects.  Students also participate in regular service-learning projects to gain perspective on civics concepts and to benefit their community.

    A fundamental cornerstone of MCSI is the active participation of our parent community to help with the logistics, program design, and fund-raising necessary to carry out our ambitious agenda.

    How Does CSI Work?

    Students typically enter CSI in their first year of middle school, 6th grade, and stay through their 8th grade year.  All three grade levels learn together.  CSI teachers are responsible for team teaching of the core subjects: science, social studies, and civics.

    For more information, contact the CSI Enrollment Coordinator at or visit the Marshall CSI website.

    ALKI at Reeves Middle School

    ALKI is a team-taught, multi-grade, middle school program with extensive parental involvement. ALKI draws from the entire Olympia School District and strives to recruit interested and informed students who are willing to work toward challenging academic goals to the best of their ability and be active participants in their educational process. ALKI welcomes the inherent diversity among students and seeks to create an inclusive model that values emotional and academic skill development. ALKI recognizes the importance of distinct learning styles, acknowledges the significance of emotional intelligence and promotes experiential learning. This commitment to an innovative and integrated curriculum includes community service and field studies.

    For more information, contact Reeves Middle School at 596-3400 or visit the Reeves website. 


    Lincoln Elementary School

    Lincoln Options

    The Options Program at Lincoln School provides a unified model for grades K-5 that respects how children learn and views learning as a collaborative effort of staff, students and parents. Attributes of the Options Program include:

    • Social and emotional growth, and academic growth are equally valued.
    • Children stay with the same teacher in multi-age classrooms for two years or more to support their learning and strengthen the family-school relationship.
    • Multiple intelligences, cooperation, social justice and sustainability are taught and practiced.

    Parents are vital to sustaining the Options program and are involved in governance, as partners supporting learning in the classroom, enrichment activities, field trips, fund raising, and social events. For more information, contact Lincoln Elementary School at 596-6400 or visit the Lincoln Options website.

    Hansen Alternative Program (HAP)

    At Hansen Elementary School, the Hansen Alternative Program’s (HAP) mission is to bind children, teachers and parents together in a progressive educational environment. This setting enhances a child’s love of discovery and learning, while developing academic and social skills at an individualized pace. HAP emphasizes team-teaching opportunities, parental involvement, and multi-aged classrooms, and fosters an active, hands-on learning experience for all children.
    The key goals of the program are to:

    • Cultivate a sense of community;
    • Increase the amount of personalized instruction students receive; and,
    • Create specialized activities and learning opportunities to expand on the established curriculum.

    For more information, contact Hansen Elementary School at 596-7400 or visit Hansen's website.

    ORLA Montessori

    The Montessori philosophy values the natural curiosity and ability for learning present within each child. Students learn responsibility, time management, and social skills along with academics within a highly structured, prepared learning environment.  Lessons are given individually or in small groups of children with similar interests, skills or academic needs.  Students work at their own pace and follow their own interests throughout the sequential curriculum designed to help every individual reach his or her full potential.  Students are grouped into multiage classrooms.  Younger students are inspired by, and imitate, the work of the older children who act as role models.  Older students gain experience and confidence in leadership.

    ORLA Montessori offers families the following:

    • ORLA Montessori offers two Children’s House classrooms with a tuition-free (full-day) kindergarten combined with a tuition-based (half-day) Pre-k (4 years old by August 31)
    • One 1st-2nd grade classroom
    • Three 1st-2nd-3rd grade classrooms
    • Two 4th-5th-6th grade classrooms

    For additional information, visit the ORLA website, or call (360) 596-7730.


    ORLA Montessori

    Montessori philosophy values the natural curiosity and ability for learning present within each child. Students aged 4-6 work together in a non-competitive atmosphere. Students are given a long, uninterrupted work period of 2 - 3 hours each day during which they freely choose work in math, language, science, social studies, sensory and/or practical life education. At any time on any day, all of these activities may be occurring simultaneously in the classroom. Students may be seen working independently, with a partner, or in small groups. The role of the teacher is to connect each child, through individual or small group lessons, with the materials and activities that will most benefit his or her individual growth and development.

    K-12 PROGRAM

    Homeschool Connect

    Homeschool Connect partners with families who provide homebased instruction in support of each family’s education of their children. Parents remain the primary teacher in their children’s education, but the Homeschool Connect can provide support by offering:

    • on-site classes that are more difficult to provide at home, such as art, science labs, world languages, PE, music, etc. in addition to the core subject areas of language arts, math, science and social studies,  
    • Resources in the form of books, math manipulatives, science kits, microscopes, etc.;
    • Access to teacher consultants and family networking to discuss instructional strategies; and
    • Peer interaction opportunities. 

    Homeschool Connect offers over 90 classes for grades K-12.  For high school age students, a high school diploma may also be earned through Homeschool Connect.  Classes change every fifteen weeks.  For more information, visit our website at Olympia Regional Learning Academy or contact (360) 596-7730.