Connections Education, Leading Virtual Education Provider, Wins Multiple 2011 International Distance Learning Awards

Educational Model Wins 21st Century Award for Best Practices in Distance Learning; Educator and Interactive Curriculum also Honored


BALTMORE (May 4, 2011)Connections Education, a leading, fully-accredited provider of virtual K–12 education solutions for families, schools, and other organizations has been honored by The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) with three 2011 International Distance Learning Awards. The Awards recognize the overall quality of Connections Education’s virtual education solutions, as well as the excellence of its educators, and its innovative, interactive curricular offerings. Connections Education and other Award winners were announced last night at a gala awards ceremony that kicked off the USDLA’s 2011 National Conference in St. Louis, MO.

The company’s Connections Academy virtual public school division was honored with one of the USDLA’s top awards: the “21st Century Award for Best Practices in Distance Learning” in the preK–12 category, for the quality and overall excellence of its virtual education model. Raymond M. Lambert, seven-year Superintendent of Ohio Connections Academy, was recognized for his significant contributions to the distance learning field, taking home honors for “Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the Field of Distance Learning” in the Online Technology/PreK–12 category. Finally, Connections Academy’s Earth Science course won a “Best Practices Award for Distance Learning Programming” in the PreK–12 category.

"As a premier organization for the entire distance learning profession, we are honoring Connections Education as a leader in the industry," said Dr. John G. Flores, Executive Director of USDLA. "Connections Education, with its high quality Connections Academy virtual school model, stand-out educators and innovative curriculum has raised the bar of excellence for distance learning. We are truly honored by Connections Education’s contributions to the distance learning industry."

The USDLA’s International Distance Learning Awards are the world's most prestigious distance learning awards. Presented annually to individuals and organizations engaged in the development and delivery of distance learning programs, the Awards recognize major accomplishments in distance learning and highlight those distance learning instructors, programs, and professionals who have achieved and demonstrated extraordinary results through the use of online, videoconferencing, satellite and blended learning delivery technologies.

The Connections Academy virtual public school program was recognized with the “21st Century Award for Best Practices in Distance Learning”/preK–12 prize for its pivotal, decade-long role in establishing and validating a new form of public education: the full-time virtual public school. When the first two Connections Academy virtual public schools were launched 10 years ago, they served 400 students, and the concept of a high quality, highly accountable virtual public education was a novelty to many parents and educators. Today, Connections Academy schools have a well-established track record for delivering academic and emotional success for a wide range of students, and with this achievement have redefined the very notion of public education. In the 2011–12 school year, 23 Connections Academy schools expect to serve approximately 40,000 K–12 students across 22 states, and the online private school, National Connections Academy, will serve students nationwide.

The USDLA also honored Raymond M. Lambert, superintendent of Ohio Connections Academy, for his significant contribution to the distance learning field with the its award for “Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the Field of Distance Learning” in the Online Technology/PreK–12 category. Lambert, who has led the Ohio school since its inception in 2004, was praised for his leadership, dedication and tireless efforts to provide students with an exceptional education experience. For these same reasons, last year Lambert was named 2010 School Leader of the Year by the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Under Lambert’s leadership, Ohio Connections Academy has grown from 150 students in grades K–8 to more than 2,700 students enrolled in grades K–12. He also led the school to the “Excellent” rating from the Ohio Department of Education for increasing student achievement and exceeding state standards for quality for two consecutive years.

The Connections Academy Earth Science Course was awarded the “Best Practices Award for Distance Learning Programming” in the PreK–12 category in recognition of its innovative use of multi-media technology, interactivity, and online design to deliver robust, engaging content as well as a variety of formative and summative assessments. Earth Science, aligned to national and state standards, is designed to prepare students to confidently enter and complete college-level Earth Science courses. The lessons provide students with opportunities to deeply explore the branches of Earth Science, interact frequently with peers, teachers and the content. Students engage in hands-on explorations and perform experiments in high-tech, interactive virtual learning environments. Rigorous curriculum opportunities are offered to explore and apply concepts in depth. Earth Science students also engage in independent research and active inquiry based lessons and interactive online tutorials and virtual labs.

Connections Education has launched its 2011–12 enrollment season for Connections Academy virtual public schools and National Connections Academy, the online private school. The schools will host more than 350 free in-person Information Sessions across the country and nearly 300 virtual Information Sessions for families wanting to learn about Connections Academy schools. Complete information about Connections Academy virtual public schools and the National Connections Academy may be found on online at www.ConnectionsAcademy.com. A complete Information Session schedule with dates and locations is available at www.ConnectionsAcademy.com or by calling (800) 382–6010. For those unable to attend an in-person Information Session, real-time virtual sessions with a school representative are available. Through another option, Parent-to-Parent meetings, interested families have the opportunity to speak with current Connections Academy families in a more casual setting.

About Connections Education
Connections Education is a leading, fully-accredited provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual education solutions for students in grades K–12. Since 2001, the company’s Connections Academy division has delivered individualized learning to students through virtual public schools and a private online academy. In the 2011–12 school year, 23 Connections Academy virtual public schools will operate in 22 states and expect to serve more than 40,000 students from across the U.S. The Connections Learning division meets the needs of schools, school districts, and other institutions looking to develop and enhance their online learning programs. Connections Learning delivers a full range of targeted digital learning solutions to the K–12 education community including online courses, a program for homebound students, a digital learning platform, and more. More than 300 schools, school districts, state departments of education and other educational institutions, serving tens of thousands of students throughout the United States and beyond, are already utilizing Connections Learning products and services. Connections Education is committed to expanding quality education through technology and helping students achieve both academic and personal success.