As many students in San Angelo head back into traditional classrooms, many here and across the state are opting for a high-tech alternative. Connections Academy is a cyber charter school that started in 2001 and began educating Texas students in 2008.
Texas Connections Academy is a free virtual public school. It is just like a traditional brick-and-mortar school. The only difference is that the students attend from home or wherever they are accessing the school via internet. Students are given their materials, and if need be, a computer; they are also paired with a real life teacher who provides feedback and guidance.
Many students in Texas and across the country are choosing to not go back to a traditional classroom, instead they are opting to go online. Whether out of concerns for safety, or because of issues with being able to filter out distractions, many students and families have found the academy to be a benefit.
We spoke with one such family in San Angelo. Joe Dinolfo has attended connections academy for the past two years, and is now entering the 11th grade. Kelli Dinolfo, Joe’s mother commented on the family decision for Joe to enroll saying, “he had a lot of anxiety about moving to the big high school which is not the greatest thing for your education and to be able to learn the curriculum. So he asked about alternatives, about the different curriculums, the different opportunities. We ended up choosing Texas Connections Academy – one because the online forum or methodology that they use is very simple to use, but it’s extremely thorough.”
Although a cyber charter school with an online course load, Connections Academy does not leave it’s students sitting indoors at their computer all day every day. There are opportunities to go outdoors.
‘We’ve gone on a couple different field trips,” Joe Dinolfo told us in an interview with KLST and KSAN News. “One of the ones that I really liked was going out to Mason Texas and hunting for topaz, and [Native American] artifacts. Connections Academy organized the entire thing with about 50 students.”
Joe’s parents, both former military, stressed the importance of making sure students had the best opportunity and environment to learn. While still enrolled in traditional brick and mortar school, Joes siblings are both straight ‘A’ students, his sister being a published author.
While excitedly looking forward to learning Latin, Joe has an aptitude for history, and an interest in archeology. He hopes, after finishing high school, to attend either Angelo State University or Texas A&M for a degree that will be the foundation for a career in those same subjects.