Colorado Connections Academy Teacher Named Online Teacher of the Year

Colorado Department of Education Honors Peggy Barnholt with Distinguished Award in Elementary Education

Englewood, Colo. (November 3, 2010) — Peggy Barnholt, special education teacher and manager of special education services with Colorado Connections Academy (ColoCA), was named Online Elementary Teacher of the Year by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). The award will be presented in front of the State Board of Education on November 3rd.

“It is an honor to be selected from such an outstanding group of teachers for this award,” said Barnholt. “Not only is it rewarding to receive this level of recognition for my work, but for the CDE to give this award demonstrates the state’s commitment to online education, and understanding that education is not a one-size fits all approach.”

Barnholt was selected by a panel in the online teaching division of CDE. After spending years in the traditional public school setting, she has embraced the individualization and customization that online learning provides. “One of the real advantages of online learning is that we can make accommodations instantaneously, meeting the needs of each individual student without have to go through months of meetings.” She also enjoys a deeper connection to her students and their families in the online environment. “I feel I know my students better than I did in the brick and mortar classroom. I get to know them through regular conversations and LiveLessons®, and then we meet face-to-face during testing. I’m actually spending more time with them one-on-one than I would in a traditional classroom.”

This is the second time in three years a Connections Academy teacher has received the Online Teacher of the Year Award. Chaille Cummings was the first elementary school teacher to receive the award when CDE began the recognition in 2008. “We could not be prouder that Peggy has been awarded this distinct honor,” said Christine Tanguay, ColoCA’s principal. “We know our teachers are top-notch, but it is a real tribute when the State Department of Education recognizes them with such a high honor.”

Charlotte Ciancio, Superintendent of Mapleton Public Schools, Connections Academy’s partnering school district, praised Barnholt. 'This honor speaks to the high quality program being offered to students,' she said. 'We are pleased to have Colorado Connections Academy join us in our efforts to provide learning choices to students and engage them in choosing their future. Outstanding teachers like Peggy create educational experiences that are rewarding and meaningful - an everyday example of what it takes to make a difference.'

Barnholt is currently in her third year teaching at Colorado Connections Academy. A veteran teacher, Barnholt spent 29 years in a brick and mortar classroom, primarily working with special education students. Her diverse experience includes teaching in a small parochial school, a resource room and large public schools. She has her M.A. in special education from the University of Denver and holds a B.A. in elementary education and special education from Northwestern State University of Louisiana.

Barnholt will deliver a presentation to the State Board of Education, entitled “Bringing Your ‘A’ Game,” the focus of which will be how online schools like Connections Academy are accountable, adaptable and accessible. She often says “I have heard people speak of online learning as the wave of the future, and I’m really enjoying the ride.”

About Connections Academy
Connections Academy is a leading, fully accredited provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual schooling for students in grades K–12. Through tuition-free public schools, full-time and part-time private school programs, and turnkey online courses for bricks and mortar schools, Connections Academy delivers superior, personalized educations for students, with the freedom and flexibility to experience its online learning community from anywhere. The combination of certified teachers, a proven curriculum, technology tools, and community experiences creates a supportive and successful online learning opportunity for families and children who want an individualized approach to education.