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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Online public school now available in Oklahoma

  • Local families were able to learn about a new option in school choice Monday, as the Oklahoma Connections Academy had an outreach event in Ardmore.


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  • jennifer.lindsey@ardmoreite.com
    Local families were able to learn about a new option in school choice Monday, as the Oklahoma Connections Academy had an outreach event in Ardmore.
    The academy is an online public school available to all students in Oklahoma. Teachers conduct classes online, as students work from physical textbooks or online materials to complete course work.
    As a public school, there is no tuition or fees to attend. Textbooks and most other materials are provided. Parents are only responsible for pencil and paper and other common supplies.
    Someone, often a parent, serves as the student’s learning coach at home, helping the student as needed. The role of the coach diminishes as a student ages from kindergarten to high school.
    The academy is partnered with a brick-and-mortar school, and graduates receive a high school diploma. Oklahoma Connections Academy is currently partnered with Sperry, but next year will be connected to Copan, which is north of Bartlesville and near Kansas.
    This school year is the academy’s first in Oklahoma. They currently have 160 students from across the state.
    “It’s slow but steady growth, and I anticipate that growth trend to continue,” said Principal Tammy Shepherd.
    Sophomore Emily Parker is currently homeschooled and has recently begun classes with the academy’s private school option. Because she is currently using multiple sources for curriculum, Parker is considering the Oklahoma Connections Academy in order to provide consistency for her transcript and receive more teacher feedback.
    She already has begun to take a course with the company’s private school.
    “The online stuff is a little tricky, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a good format and a good option,” said mom Mary Parker.
    The academy will begin offering high school next school year.
    All grades have required curriculum that follows the Priority Academic Student Skills and the Common Core Curriculum. Students must also take required tests, just like in brick-and-motar public schools.
    Elective courses include Spanish, home life, music physical education and sign language.
    Students also have the opportunity to participate in clubs with Connections Academy students nationwide. Clubs include art, chess, quiz bowl and a student-managed newspaper.
    The academy also offers a couple field trips a month in varying parts of the state as well as “social lessons” where students have the opportunity to chat with each other outside of class.

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