IQuest Global Enrichment Center, a preschool through high school facility that provides year-round educational opportunities, opened Jan. 28 at 5145 N. RR 620 in Austin.
The center, designed to prepare students for competency in a global economy, provides classes in foreign languages, problem solving, online television production, leadership and more.
"Classes are very student-centric," said Tracey Vickery, director of IQuest Global Enrichment Center. "Students learn by doing, which is appealing. It doesn't feel institutional."
IQuest Global Enrichment Center owner Iris Wong came up with the idea for the center while driving her children between different enrichment programs.
"I would drive them around to different after-school activities," Wong said. "We would go someplace for music and another for science. It was a lot of wasted time in the car, so I decided to open a place that offered everything. Something that was more flexible for both kids and adults."
Classes, which meet about once a week and cost upward of $125, are held between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. with home-school courses held between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Classes are taught by well-traveled instructors with a multitude of backgrounds, Vickery said.
"We have professors from [Austin Community College] and Texas State [University], among others" Vickery said. "These are just people that want to promote critical thinking and socratic discussions. They see the way students interact in class, and they want to make them more comfortable participating in discussions."
In order to promote interaction between students and teachers, the class sizes are mostly limited to eight students and have an emphasis on student-teacher relationships, Vickery said.
Wong took control of the building in November, requiring a quick turnaround in order for the school to be open in late January.
"The guys working on the building have done a fantastic job," Vickery said.
The building features a number of classrooms; an open, collaborative space for homework and other activities; and a large room with a kitchen that can be used for instructional purposes or rented out for community events.
"We think the small environments help teach the students how to interact with adults," Wong said. "It helps them learn how to best engage teachers and how to get the most out of their education."
Vickery likes the center's approach to hands-on learning and its focus on creative problem solving, she said.
"It is a very collaborative environment," Vickery said. "We are trying to create a culture where children think. We are trying to come up with solutions to provide a better track for students."
Wong is not in it for the money, Vickery said. Wong could have used her money for her children but instead is doing this for the community, she said.
"She is investing in the bigger picture. The only way to have creative people is to be constantly solving problems—coming up with creative ways to solve different problems," Vickery said.
IQuest Global Enrichment Center offers courses to close the gaps in academic subjects along with programs to expose students to skills and abilities such as critical thinking, the ability to understand and interact with classmates, creativity and many others, IQuest Director Tracey Vickery said.
IQuest encourages students to explore the world and all it has to offer. The possibilities in a global economy are infinite if the students are prepared for it, Vickery said.
The center helps prepare students for a global economy by offering foreign languages and promoting interaction between students and teachers, Vickery said.