Carson Baker

Carson Baker hitting a tennis ball

Remember the name Carson Baker. His ultimate goal is to become a professional tennis player, a pretty demanding career choice that requires serious dedication and lots of hours of practice. As a student athlete, Carson had additional needs that his family felt would be better served outside a traditional bricks-and-mortar school. That is why he wanted to attend Connections Academy. Carson needed to be able to pursue his passion of playing tennis while staying on track with school. “I was part of the decision to attend Connections Academy,” said Carson. “I wanted to be able to practice and travel more for tennis.” Connections Academy’s flexible pacing and schedule allow him to take the time he needs to make progress on all of his goals. “My tennis ranking improved all the way to #5 in singles and #3 in doubles in the nation a year after I enrolled in Connections Academy.”

Since starting at Connections Academy in the seventh grade, Carson has gotten to have the kinds of social interactions he enjoys. While he doesn’t have the time in his training schedule to attend field trips, he has gotten to know other tennis players, some of whom are also pursuing tennis at a higher level while studying at Connections Academy.

Carson Baker serving a tennis ball

“My daily routine is to practice tennis, do schoolwork, have lunch with friends, do more schoolwork, have tennis practice, and work on my fitness. The biggest misconception that people have about online school is that they think it is not social.” Carson’s day proves those people wrong. In fact, because of the way Carson’s day is structured, he has time to focus on friendships with other students who share his passion for tennis.

Because of Connections Academy, Carson has been better able to prepare for a future in tennis while completing his education, a win-win for Carson and his family.

Liz Baker, Parent

Liz Baker

When Liz Baker decided that her son, Carson, needed something different, she turned to Connections Academy. “We chose Connections Academy because it allowed us to streamline Carson’s day to give him more time for daily tennis practice and a more flexible schedule to travel for national tennis tournaments.”

Liz was unsure about switching to an online school. She wasn’t sure how her son would adjust to the new learning environment or how the academic portion of his day would compare to the traditional bricks-and-mortar schools she was familiar with. But having a child with the passion, dedication, and mental focus to forge his own path in life helped the Baker family take that first step and look around for a better school fit for him.

“I was unsure if I would have enough time in my daily schedule to be Carson’s Learning Coach since I work full time from home,” said Liz. “But after the first few weeks of assisting him, I found that he was able to navigate smoothly through the online program on his own without much assistance from me.”

Carson has excelled both in his sport and academically. “After the first year of Connections Academy, Carson’s test scores proved he was scoring similar to previous years at a bricks-and-mortar school that was ranked #2 in South Carolina.

Carson Baker playing tennis

I love the flexibility that Carson has to become a professional tennis player while still obtaining a great education. I also love that Carson’s day is maximized; there is very little wasted time in the day, which is something you find with bricks-and-mortar schools. He is able to play tennis four hours a day plus do one hour of fitness. He can do all of his schoolwork and still have an evening of family time. Before Connections Academy he would have to study each night until he nearly fell asleep.”

And the Bakers are seeing benefits beyond just academics. Carson is discovering how he learns best and is finding new ways to apply himself to his goals. “In addition to providing academic instruction, Connections Academy also teaches Carson executive functioning skills that students do not learn in the bricks-and-mortar schools,” said Liz. “He knows that he has to stay on course in order to finish the semester on time.

“Connections Academy has so many different ways of how to learn the material. Our son is able to spend time studying in the way that works best for him, rather than learning the way the rest of the classroom is learning.”

Liz and Carson are so happy with their Connections Academy education that she wants to share her story with everyone she meets who could benefit from online learning.

“I am continuously recommending Connections Academy to other families," she said. “It is great for students who need the additional time for other interests like sports and music, as well as for students simply looking for the new wave in education. Our world is becoming more and more efficient. Connections Academy is providing such efficiency in the school system. After we saw how great it was for our son, we enrolled our daughter the following year.”