Classes based on students' needs

A new alternative private school is coming to town that will give students the flexibility to work on their own schedules — whether that's the crack of dawn or the middle of the afternoon.

Huntington Beach is expected to be the newest home come December to Fusion Academy and Learning Center, an alternative private school for students in sixth to 12th grade.

The school offers one-on-one classes Monday to Thursday with a wide variety of electives and a music and arts program.

"School should be a fun environment where you want to come and you're an active participant," said founder Michelle Rose Gilman.

The school is expected to open across the street from Bella Terra and can accept about 70 students.

Gilman founded the school 20 years ago in San Diego out of her one-on-one tutoring and mentoring program.

In the program, Gilman watched some students get tutored every day but still not succeed. The problem wasn't them, it was the school, she said.

Students need individual nurturing and emotional support, Gilman said.

From that first school in San Diego, Fusion has expanded to Mission Viejo and is expected to open three locations in Los Angeles by the end of next year.

Students rotate 50-minute classes in individual offices with their teachers. All classes are one-on-one except physical education, but the students do get time to interact in between classes and in the Homework Café.

Fusion assigns "homework," but it isn't done at home. Students are expected to complete the work before they leave in the Homework Café, where an instructor is available to help them.

While working at the tutoring program before she opened Fusion, Gilman said she saw firsthand the stress homework would cause on the whole family. Parents would nag their children about it and the kids would lie about how much was done, Gilman said.

"I've seen relationships ruined," she said.

Students also interact during mandatory discussions, and they can get together for student fun nights to watch a movie or do an activity that interests them, said Maryam Pourmohsen, the Huntington Beach location's head of school.

"They're not missing anything when they come to Fusion," Gilman said.

Interested in learning more?

•Go to

• Learn more at an informational meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 19. Participants must reserve a spot online.

•Attend an informational coffee chat at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 26. Participants must reserve a spot online.

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