Virtual school, but the assignments are real

By: Lisa McDivitt Email
By: Lisa McDivitt Email

School started on Tuesday for four Grand Junction students of the Connections Academy, where their classroom is just outside of their bedrooms. The Bench family has been using the Connections Academy curriculum for the past five years, and even though attending public school at home isn’t for everyone, none of the Bench students are interested in going to regular school anytime soon.

The Colorado Connections Academy, based in Denver, provides online classes for kindergarten through twelfth grade. Since it began in 2002, the Academy now has an enrolment of nearly 1,000 students throughout the state. It’s a public school alternative to, well, public school. The Academy is contracted through the Denver public school system, and all students have to meet the same state standards that students in traditional public school have to meet. The difference is the way they learn.

Teachers meet with students over the internet, and parents, or a learning coach, need to be actively in their educational progress. There are regular field trips, which are optional, and organized by a designated community coordinator in the area. Rebecca Bench, mother of the Grand Junction students, is the coordinator for the Western Slope. She’s taken students on field trips to places such as the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, an aviation center, and museums.

Rebecca, who is also the learning coach for her children, says success in the program requires a lot of organization, but that it’s enjoyable. She adds that her favorite part is seeing her children’s eyes light up when they grasp a concept they’re learning.

To read more about Connections Academy, and to get tips on having good study habits at home (even if your student attends a traditional school), see the links below.


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