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Meet Lynna Martinez of Halstrom Academy in Irvine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lynna Martinez.

Lynna, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve been surrounded by educators my entire life and can confidently say that I’m one of the lucky ones to be living my passion.

Researching, developing, collaborating and executing model education programs and services for youth is a dream that began for me as an undergrad.

I’m originally from Ohio and as a college intern, I had the opportunity to present in front of state legislatures on the topic of closing the education gap for Latino students in the state. The experience ignited my focus and confirmed that a career in education was the right path for me.

My journey has evolved from public, private and post-secondary schools as my interests have shifted. Five years ago, I made to what this day is the most courageous yet fulfilling move of my life to Southern California and joined a talented team of “Edu-preneurs” at Halstrom Academy who were focused on expanding a network of schools with an innovative and powerful approach to education. It was the perfect fit – a transformative model and an opportunity to build it from the ground up.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As in life, there have been challenges but nothing rewarding comes easy. When you work with students and families, it’s a dynamic environment that is always changing and evolving. The greatest part of the journey is that you have the opportunity to build dreams, shape lives, and create successes.

A challenge we face at Halstrom is taking the best systems, elements of the most effective instructional strategies and the most dynamic of curriculum options for our students and working through systematic ways of how to apply them in a 1:1 setting. Schools across the United States are attempting to achieve big results with a traditional model whereas we are leading the charge in demonstrating proven results with a new model. The struggle has been creating while implementing, measuring outcomes while adopting new changes. These same struggles have lead us to push the boundaries of what school has traditionally meant to parents and students. We’re demonstrating that a new approach to learning has a profound impact and benefit that they may have never imagined possible.

An example is the implementation of our new Learning Management System, Canvas, which is used at thousands of Higher Ed and 6-12 systems around the country including Stanford and Yale. Our Halstrom team has built integration with Canvas that allows us to standardize learning objectives, which then will provide us with a more accurate view of student outcomes. It also provides us with a way to support our teachers in providing them with the most up to date curriculum, tools, resources, and strategies – across all 15 schools. We’ve taken an amazing tool and augmented it to propel our individualized/personalized approach.

Although my road hasn’t been perfectly smooth, struggle has also led me from the Midwest to Southern California pursuing a dream that has become reality. We all have our own journey and mine is definitely still taking shape but to come this far and to be shaping the future of education, feels worth it.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Halstrom Academy story. Tell us more about the business.
At Halstrom Academy, our middle school and high school students are regular kids and each student is remarkable and talented in their own way. For many, the traditional classroom is not a place where they thrive. And at Halstrom, we listen to our students and we know it is important for them to experience that right fit…a school where they feel comfortable, that their individual needs are being met and where they can excel and feel pride in their accomplishments.

Our students come from varying backgrounds. Some struggle with academia, learning challenges or social anxiety; while others are athletes and actors who find the flexible scheduling options beneficial; and some are wanting accelerated learning that they are not finding in the traditional classroom… but ALL value the 1:1 instruction to learn at their capacity and pace.

At Halstrom Academy, we believe students can reach their full potential with personalized instruction that instills confidence, character, and a lifelong love of learning. On our campuses, you will find close-knit communities that foster academic achievement and personal development. At Halstrom, we provide an education that FITS each and every student.

For over 30 years, Halstrom Academy has positively impacted the lives and futures of more than 16,000 students through our one-to-one teaching approach. Halstrom’s mission is to recognize, support, and develop students as individuals. We embrace a progressive vision of education focused on students mastering curriculum with personalized one-to-one instruction and tutorial support, in an atmosphere where they are safe, confident, and engaged. Halstrom Academy is California’s premier choice for a non-traditional private middle and high school.

As Senior VP of Education at Halstrom Academy, I serve a network of private 6-12th grade schools that specialize in an innovative and unique student-centric education model focused on 1:1 instruction. We offer a strong curriculum with over 140 courses, 22 Honors and 20 Advanced Placement (AP).

Some of my key initiatives have included: launching international student programs, implementing a comprehensive school-wide assessment system focused on academic growth, enhancing current curriculum supported by a learning management platform and expanding student services to include social, personal, and academic development as well as college readiness.

We currently have 15 campuses in California that span from San Diego to the Bay area. When I first joined the company in 2012, we had three campuses and we’ve expanded to now 15. We have 6 convenient campuses right here in the LA area located in Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Manhattan Beach, Pasadena, Westlake Village, and Woodland Hills to service our LA families.

Our students continue to excel and because there is a need to service students that desire something more than the traditional education model delivers, over the next three years, we will be expanding to serve families throughout the US in multiple states.

I traveled out to California for the first time in 2012 to visit the Halstrom Academy campus in Mission Viejo. My master’s degree was in Educational Policy/Administration and I thought I had studied every possible learning model, educational approach, and teaching method out there but I had never seen anything like Halstrom, delivering personalized 1:1 instruction tailored to each student and I immediately wanted to be a part of it.

At Halstrom Academy, we are known for academic outcomes, a personalized approach to learning that involves growth mindset and the importance of developing the whole student. Our students master content and begin to understand the science behind how they learn best. They become active participants in their own educational experience and have fun along the way. We encourage each student to achieve and grow beyond what they may have originally thought was possible. I’m pleased to say 93% of our students that apply to a 4-year college or university are accepted.

I’m most proud of our Halstrom students – they are unique, super talented, unafraid to take on new challenges, independent, hardworking – they push through obstacles, overcome past setbacks, have a positive outlook and are overall – pretty exceptional.

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least about our city?
We enjoy life out here! I love the focus on a healthy lifestyle, living with intention, and working hard — all in one. Yoga, the beach (I grew up in Cleveland Ohio), dining, diversity, creative minds, masterminds, music and the spirit of collaboration and drive.

Least – that’s easy. The traffic.

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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