Ronda Blakemore is a special education teacher at Arkansas Connections Academy (ARCA). She began teaching in 1994 and joined ARCA in 2016. Ms. Blakemore received her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Arkansas, and her master’s degree in teaching, learning, and leadership from Oklahoma State University. She shares her teaching experiences below:
"I had a daughter that passed away, and they told me if she had lived, she would have had severe cognitive impairment. I decided then and there that I wanted to be a special education teacher to help improve the lives of my students by encouraging them to become all they can be.
I started as a special education teacher in a small school district here in Arkansas. Before the year was out, my son was diagnosed with Leukemia and we spent the rest of the year at St. Jude. I finished the year and then took the next year off to deal with the ups and downs of his treatment for Leukemia. After that, I spent the next 11 years teaching in Arkansas, and 9 years in Oklahoma teaching Special Education.
ARCA provides students with a unique way of learning that allows flexibility in their schedule. It is a challenging college preparatory curriculum, but we get to work closely with our students to help them reach their full potential. ARCA lessons are designed to help students prepare for the next level, and there is a lot of support built into them. A lot of students like working in an interactive virtual environment rather than in a traditional classroom with just paper and a pencil.
The teachers at ARCA have the best of two worlds—we have the option to work at home and in the office. Our staff is very much like family because we work in a small office. We try to work together in order to get things done in a timely manner and support our families. At times we have families come visit our office, which we welcome. There are also various ARCA field trips that allow us to travel to different locations to meet our families in-person.
ARCA may not be the right fit for every student. The student should have the motivation to put in hard work and the time that is required, and a Learning Coach who is able to provide encouragement and help him or her to stay on track. It’s a challenging program, but if students put in the effort, they will be successful and prepared for college."
Outside of teaching, Ms. Blakemore enjoys traveling, fishing, knitting, and reading mysteries.
ARCA lessons are designed to help students prepare for the next level, and there is a lot of support built into them.