Have you considered virtual schooling for your child? If not, Ohio Connections Academy might change your mind.
It’s no secret that the “brick-and-mortar” education system isn’t the best option for every child. The classroom education that most American children receive often provides few options and modifications for children with special needs and learning styles. If a student isn’t placed in an academic environment that works well for him or her, they can fall behind or lose confidence. The result? Poor grades and little motivation to learn.
Ohio Connections Academy is a statewide, tuition-free, public virtual school serving 3,500 students across Ohio (K-12). Here, students do their class work at home or pretty much wherever they can get an Internet connection.
The school is composed of Ohio-certified teachers, a standards-aligned curriculum, unique technology tools, an extensive selection of electives and clubs, and community experiences — all of these combined create a refreshing alternative to the bricks-and-mortar classroom.
To talk more about virtual schooling and Ohio Connections Academy, I spoke to Marie Hanna, the superintendent of Ohio Connections Academy.
Here’s what she had to say:
Q1: What are some of the misconceptions of virtual schooling?
A: One of the common misconceptions is about socialization in the virtual school.
At Ohio Connections Academy, our students actually have many opportunities to socialize with their peers beginning with the LiveLesson® online classroom where students can interact with each other during their class time.
In addition, the school offers a variety of school activities — both in-person and online — such as: field trips, a robotics club, debate team, environmental club, a school newspaper, etc.
Q2: What are some of the benefits of virtual schooling, specifically in Ohio Connections Academy?
A: Ohio Connections Academy appeals to a wide variety of students including: those who need a flexible schedule (like athletes, actors, students with medical conditions), those who learn at a different pace from their peers, those who need more individualized attention, or those who live in rural settings. Because we offer a more flexible way to attend school, there is more time for real-world learning.
One of the benefits that really attracts students and parents is the fact that Ohio Connections Academy provides a learning plan that is personalized for each student.
- Helpful if a student is gifted and wants to progress through the curriculum.
- For students who need extra help or require a flexible schedule.
- Our students can attend school wherever there is an Internet connection and (for the most part) during the hours that work best for them.
Q3: What makes your school different than any other virtual school out there?
A: We believe our biggest strength is great teaching. We are proud of our teaching staff, which averages seven years of teaching experience and more than half of whom have Masters Degrees. In addition, Ohio Connections Academy combines strong parental involvement of learning at home, the expertise of its instructors, the accountability of public education, and the flexibility of online classes.
Q4: What kind of students are enrolled in your school?
A: Many students come from large urban areas, and there are students from virtually every county in our state. Ohio Connections Academy serves a great number of students who, for a variety of reasons, have not succeeded in the traditional school environment.
Many of these students come to us significantly behind — new elementary students who are ‘not proficient,’ and new high schoolers who are ‘credit deficient’ and may also be ‘skill deficient.’
Some of our families come to Ohio Connections Academy because they are experiencing bullying or other negative interactions in the school environment. Other families come because they feel that schooling at home will provide them the opportunity to share the values they feel are important with their child.
Parents know their own children, and they like that they can create a personalized learning environment that fits their child’s learning style. Examples of these modifications can be in the time spent on subjects or whether the student works better earlier or later in the day.
Q5: How is your curriculum similar to that of a traditional public school, and how is it different?
A: Our curriculum is based on the Ohio Learning Standards. The curriculum is similar in content to what is offered in other public schools, but the delivery system and interaction with teachers is what makes our school unique.
Q6: How successful is your school in helping students thrive as adults?
A: Of the more than 300 students who were among the graduating class of 2016, more than half have indicated they planned to attend two or four-year colleges and universities. More than 20 graduates achieved National Honor Society membership status, and overall the class has received more than $3 million in college scholarships.
Ohio Connections Academy graduates have been accepted to leading colleges and universities across the state and country. We prepare students for the rigors of higher education with a college-preparatory curriculum including: many honors and Advanced Placement courses; highly qualified teachers who are experts in their field of instruction and online learning; and school counselors, who advise students on their options and coach them throughout the college admissions process.
Some of the schools that Ohio Connections Academy students have been accepted to include: Ohio State University, Akron University, University of Cincinnati, Miami University, Cleveland State University, Xavier University, Wright State University, Wilmington College, Marion Technical College, and Youngstown State University.
We’ve also had several students accepted into the military as well as two-year preparation programs.
Q7: Where can parents get more information about Ohio Connections Academy?
A: Firstly, they can visit our website.
I would also recommend that the family attend the information sessions that the school provides and talk to school staff. We welcome questions from families. We want to make sure they have all the information they need to choose the best environment for their child.
About Marie Hanna, Superintendent of Ohio Connections Academy:
Marie has been with Ohio Connections Academy since 2005 and has worked in the education field for 30 years. One of her proudest moments at Ohio Connections Academy was when two of her students who graduated from high school returned to teach for Ohio Connections Academy. She says, “I love going to our graduation ceremony every year and seeing the promise for the future inside each of our seniors. I am excited about the trails we’ve blazed in digital education and the potential for the future.”