Reflecting on Arkansas Connections Academy’s First Year

group ribbon cutting

Last year the Arkansas community welcomed Arkansas Connections Academy, becoming the second online school in the state. Throughout the school year we have strived to provide students with the tools they need to succeed with the flexibility to learn at home. Our first year has come to an end and there are many elements that made it a great one.

This first year we were able to build a strong team of teachers, counselors and staff members who contribute to the school’s virtual learning environment and help provide the personalized learning environment for more than 480 students to achieve their academic goals. Students, with the support of their family and learning coach, have embraced the school and the learning opportunities provided.

There were many memorable moments this year, some of which occurred on the 15 educational field trips we took throughout the state. On these trips, students were able to experience and learn about the community and socialize with their peers. Our most popular field trip this year was the visit to Little Rock Zoo, where more than 130 students and family members participated. Students also had the opportunity to participate in field trips to the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, Janet Huckabee Nature Center and Blanchard Springs Caverns, among others.

kris allen with book

The school year was marked by three important and fun celebrations. On October 5, 2016, we celebrated our grand opening with a special ribbon cutting ceremony, where the school’s Board of Directors and other distinguished guests joined us. On March 2, 2017, Arkansas native and American Idol winner Kris Allen read to our students from Nashville in honor of Read Across America Day. Our End of Year Celebration was on June 2, 2017. Our families and staff enjoyed science experiments, fun, and games, and I had the privilege of presenting families with a letter from Governor Asa Hutchinson about our school's first year.

In more ways than one the Arkansas community has shown support for our school. I had the opportunity to speak about bullying during National Bullying Awareness Month on various local news stations. Local news stations and newspapers have helped us inform the community about who we are by sharing details of what Arkansas Connections Academy has to offer, including photos of our field trips and details about our information sessions and our events.

Thank you to the Arkansas Connections Academy staff, students and families and to the community for helping us make this year a great one. Our goal is make the next school year, and all the years to come, even better than the last and to continue providing Arkansas families with a high-quality, flexible online learning environment.

Darla Gardner
School Leadership