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Tracy Heathcote

California Connections Academy parent Tracy and her daughters

Tracy Heathcote is the parent of and Learning Coach to California Connections Academy student, Maggie Heathcote. She and her husband stumbled across Connections Academy when they were researching the best educational options. Tracy tells her story below.

“With Connections Academy, our daughter was excited about learning. When my husband comes home from work, Maggie rushes to tell him about what she has learned, not to share the latest news about what drama is going around the school. Maggie loves the flexibility she has during the day, and she also enjoys her lessons.

My daughters’ previous school had been great when she was younger; however, as she got older, Maggie began to lose her love of learning. She was feeling increasingly bored, and her days were filled with doing her work and then waiting for the rest of the class to finish. Our school did not have the funding to provide any different or supplemental work, and anyway, she did not want to do more work after sitting in school all day. We knew that she deserved more.

My husband and I sat down and came up with three main goals for our daughters’ education: we wanted her to be in a culture of learning, to be able to develop her love of music, and to be engaged, and occasionally challenged, by her learning. We were thrilled to discover that Connections Academy met all of our goals.

I appreciate the flexibility we have now. Our typical day begins with 30–60 minutes practicing music (piano, string bass, or violin). Once she finishes, Maggie logs into Connexus® and looks at her schedule for the day. Since my daughter is older, I do not lead her through her studies; I just make sure that she understands the work in her lessons. I can see what she has done and what she is working on from my own online account. For most of the day, she works completely independently, learning from videos and texts. I stop by her work area from time to time to check her work or just discuss what she has learned. Whenever she gest stuck on something and I cannot help her, she calls or sends a WebMail message to her teacher and explains her problem. Her teachers are always helpful and works with her until she understands the concept.

Between the curriculum, which encourages my students to ask questions and seek answers, and the school setup, which requires them to communicate often with their teachers, I have been amazed by how mature my daughter has become. She is much better at taking initiative, maintaining poise when handling challenges, and trying to solve problems on her own, but she also knows how to reach out when she needs help. What surprised me the most, though, is how much I enjoy seeing her learn and grow. We embarked on this journey to give her the education she deserved, but I have found that I get great joy from watching her as she evolves into a responsible individual.

Before enrolling in California Connections Academy, we had been concerned about whether our daughter would miss her friends and be too isolated from other kids. Happily, that has never been a problem. Her other activities outside of school have provided all of the social life she needs. Maggie still hangs out with her friends; she just doesn’t do it during school.

My daughter has been able to have extra time to explore drawing and computer programming—and just hanging out with her dogs. She has grown in her music as well, since she was able to join our local community band and orchestra. Our life used to feel rushed and often overwhelming, but now, since we aren’t tied down to a rigidly defined school-day structure, we have so much more freedom. Maggie still spends a comparable amount of time learning, but we can more easily shape our school day around our other interests. We even have enough time to travel and volunteer in our community, giving back to those around us. Each year, as school draws to a close, I ask my daughter if she wants to continue with online schooling. She always says yes, mentioning that she didn’t want to go back to sitting in a classroom. That is all the evidence I need to keep being a Connections Academy parent.”

What I like best about California Connections Academy is how much richer my daughters' life has become because of the flexibility and options available in our school. She has been able to explore the things that interests her academically and emotionally.
— Tracy