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Colorado Connections Academy Teacher Receives Outstanding Online Teacher Recognition

Colorado Department of Education Honors Justin Siddall with Distinguished Award in Secondary Education

ENGLEWOOD,CO (April 18, 2012) – This week, Justin Siddall, secondary English teacher with Colorado Connections Academy (ColoCA), was awarded the 2011–12 Outstanding Online Teacher Recognition (formerly the Online Teacher of the Year Award) from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). The award will be presented in front of the State Board of Education on May 9.

Siddall was selected by a panel in the online teaching division of CDE. A letter from the department announcing the award praised Siddall’s accomplishments. “We had several candidates nominated for this award. Yours was among the applications that rose to the top. Your application demonstrated strong evidence of the impact you have on student achievement and growth. Thank you for your tireless dedication to improving student performance through diverse and innovative strategies in your online school. We are pleased to recognize you as a leader in your field and a role model for educators across our state."

Siddall is currently in his fourth year teaching at Colorado Connections Academy. He began his career as an English teacher with Bromley Charter School. He holds a B.A. in Education from University of Colorado Denver and is currently pursuing his Masters in Education at Jones International.

“I am both thrilled and humbled to receive this award,” said Siddall. “Student achievement and growth are my top priorities, as they are for every single teacher and administrator with whom I work. This award is a great honor for our entire school.”

One of the achievements highlighted in Siddall’s application was the creation of his “English Boot Camp.” Each year he selects about 20 students that need extra support (based on either prior performance or data collected through first writing sample). He calls each student, as well as their learning coach, to ask them to participate in additional lessons to become better writers. The program has significantly resulted in higher CSAP scores for his students.

Siddall also understands that building connections outside the classroom is as important as doing so within the school structure. He attends numerous field trips, assists and is part of ColoCA’s graduation, and is the sponsor of the school’s National Honor Society. “One thing I have really come to love about online teaching is you get to develop a much closer connection with your students. I not only get to know my students’ strengths and weaknesses, but I get to know about their lives.”

This is an especially exciting year for Siddall. In addition to the CDE honor, a number of students he has taught over the past four years will be graduating. “That will be a really special moment,” he said.

This is the third time a Connections Academy teacher has received the Online Teacher of the Year Award. Chaille Cummings was the first elementary school teacher to receive the award when CDE began the recognition in 2008. Peggy Barnholt, special education teacher and manager of special education services, received the award in 2010. “We could not be prouder that our teachers continue to be awarded this distinct honor,” said Christine Tanguay, ColoCA’s principal. “We know our teachers are top-notch, but it is a real tribute when the State Department of Education recognizes them with such a high accolades.”

About Connections Academy

Connections Academy is a leading, fully accredited provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual schooling for students in grades K through 12. Through tuition-free public schools, and full-time and part-time private school programs, Connections Academy delivers superior, personalized education for students, with the freedom and flexibility to experience our online learning community from anywhere. The combination of certified teachers, a proven curriculum, technology tools, and community experiences creates a supportive and successful online learning opportunity for families and children who want an individualized approach to education. In the 2011–12 school year, Connections Academy serves students in 21 states via 22 virtual public schools. It serves students worldwide through the online private school, National Connections Academy. Connections Academy offers grades K through 12, though some public school programs do not offer all grades. For more information, call 800–382–6010 or visit www.ConnectionsAcademy.com. Connections Academy and its parent company, Connections Education, are part of the global learning company Pearson (NYSE:PSO) www.Pearson.com.