Dannet homeschooled her children before switching to Commonwealth Connections Academy (CCA). Now with CCA, she and her children are even happier. Her students are engaged and thriving in this program.
Our story and journey to educate our children began long before they were enrolled at Commonwealth Connections Academy (CCA)—and even before their birth. Through years of relationships with friends who, before us, decided to be chief influencers in the educational processes of their children, we knew that when the time came, we’d homeschool. So we did! In addition, the choice to be very involved in the academic process of our children proved beneficial and comforting, as our local school system was decaying brick by brick. There was growing concern in the education arena, and overwhelming evidence reflected in classroom assessments and state testing reports, that only further confirmed our decision as the right one. So, off we went homeschooling, which afforded us many wonderful experiences and memories. However, as fulfilling as the journey was, there was room to improve our efforts to be successful at what we had set out to do—that is, ensuring that we delivered a quality education to our children while adhering to state practices and standards.
At this point, I must confess that my husband and I are both educators in K–12 and adult education; however, let me say with even more emphasis that our experiences did not prepare us for educating our own children. Simply put, there are factors that come into play when one is delivering lessons to one’s own child(ren). With that said, this is where our journey with Connections Academy began.
At one gathering of homeschooling families who were collaborating to share ideas, plan playdates, and organize extracurricular activities is where a dear friend gave a wonderful testimony of having converted to the cyberschool experience, which, by the way, was storming the Pennsylvania educational scene at the time. The birth of cyberschools padded with twenty-first-century technological resources and flexibility was becoming a very attractive prospect for many traditional homeschooling families. My friend’s encouragement and testimony, which sounded personally liberating for even the most organized and administrative among us, piqued my curiosity. She spoke of the technological innovation to deliver quality state-aligned curriculum, certified teachers who worked along with and ensured delivery of curriculum content, and a vast array of other resources that seemed more like bonuses and perks to the whole homeschooling process. The clincher for me was the administrative benefits. CCA would deliver me from the process of having to manage all the tedious, yet very vital, academic information, such as attendance, portfolios, and other state-related requirements, for educating a student in Pennsylvania. After careful review and much dialogue in the spring of 2004, my husband and I decided to initiate the enrollment process for the next school year.
I am glad to say that we have had nothing but success at CCA. We have been able to maintain, while improving it greatly, our vision for our children. The pressure of the administrative side (reporting to the state each June) is instantly eased so that the main directive is met. We have had, and continue to have, the privilege of working with teachers from kindergarten to high school grades who are most helpful and accommodating. Our students are engaged and thriving, as lessons challenge them to think and process beyond their textbooks. Our experience has been a collaboration that I only wish we had started earlier with our eldest son, who is now a college graduate. What a dynamic opportunity CCA has afforded each of our children. Our students are able to experience the best of learning at home. Through clubs and fields trips, they have a very fulfilling school experience. The CCA community is vast and wide, consisting not only of students, but also of Learning Coaches and Caretakers, all of whom have equal opportunities to grow and interact with other families. The vehicles of message boards, family mentors, and specially designed Learning Coach and Caretaker events provide families with intentional and timely support.
My experience and that of my children continues to confirm that our decision to give CCA a try was one of the best moves we could have made for our family. Each year (we are now in our eighth year with CCA), as we discuss our academic plan and consider, Is this the year to give our children the brick-and-mortar experience?, we have to quickly sober up and realize that we’d be mad to consider any other options, as they would lead us to pay a great financial price to receive the same services that CCA provides. So, we reenroll and enjoy the experience one year at a time. Connections Academy has been a very important part of our educational vision for our children.