CAM Community School District Announces Iowa Connections Academy, Statewide Virtual Public School, for 2012–13

--District to Offer Tuition-Free K-12 Public Education Option for Families Across Iowa--

ANITA, IA (January, 20, 2012) – Iowa students in grades K–12 will soon have an innovative new public school option that delivers exceptional public schooling to students online. The CAM Community School District has announced the launch of Iowa Connections Academy (IACA), a statewide virtual school, for the 2012–13 school year.

Important Open Enrollment Deadline—March 1, 2012.  IACA will begin enrollment immediately as part of the state’s open enrollment period for the 2012–13 academic year and will offer informational meetings for interested families in February across Iowa. The open enrollment deadline is March 1, 2012. The virtual school will offer a high-quality, highly accountable, tuition-free, public education option and students in grades K–12 across Iowa can enroll in the new school. IACA’s teaching and attendance center will be based in the greater Anita area.

IACA will combine Iowa-licensed teachers, an Iowa Core standards-aligned curriculum, unique technology tools, an extensive selection of electives and clubs, and community experiences to create an individualized alternative to the bricks-and-mortar classroom.

All IACA students will participate in the nationally accredited Connections Academy program that combines resources from leading publishers with cutting-edge, yet easy-to-use, technology and hands-on materials. Learning from home, students will work closely with a licensed Iowa teacher using detailed daily lesson plans that can be personalized to meet individual student needs. A parent or another adult “Learning Coach” monitors progress in the home. Students enrolled will receive learning materials such as textbooks, science kits, and more.

CAM Community School District Superintendent, Steve Pelzer, expressed the value of the program for students in his district and statewide. “The CAM Community School District is committed to providing our students with a 21st Century education. We have been utilizing technology to creatively support and enhance our teaching for some time and developing a virtual school is a natural extension and expansion of our efforts and ideas. This is about offering the best educational options for CAM students and students throughout Iowa—about meeting, exceeding, student needs and successfully preparing them for their future. Through technology, students will gain access to programs they may not have had access to before—an expanded Talented and Gifted program, additional Advanced Placement courses, foreign languages such as Mandarin Chinese, an option for credit recovery for high school students. And, although the school will be virtual, students will work with very real teachers. We look forward to staffing our new school with Iowa licensed and properly endorsed teachers interested in working in the virtual classroom. Through IACA, we will be able to enhance the education of our CAM students by expanding the programs we already have in place, something that is difficult to do in smaller districts. With the introduction of a virtual public school, the 2012–13 school year will mark a great step for education in both the CAM Community School District and Iowa.”

VIDEO: A Day-in-the-Life of a Connections Academy Family

IACA is expected to serve a wide range of Iowa students, including those who are significantly ahead or behind in the classroom, those who need a flexible schedule or learn at a different pace from their peers, and those who need more individualized attention. Students in rural areas may take advantage of courses not offered in their school.  Homebound and previously home-schooled students can also thrive in Connections Academy’s program.

Interaction between teachers and students will be frequent. Accountability is central to the school’s mission and students must meet the same levels of accountability and complete the same state standardized tests as other public schools.

Gary Dinkla, president of the CAM Community School Board observed, "There are lots of small, rural school districts here in Iowa. So we know first hand about the challenges of serving a rural student population. Many schools grapple with delivering a rich array of courses and resources to students. Offering AP or other college level courses, for example, is very difficult to do when you’re only serving a handful of students, especially in this challenging economy. So we’re excited to partner with Connections Academy to make a high quality, full-time online program available to all of Iowa’s K–12 students. With its vast range of core and elective courses, full slate of guidance and other support services, and extracurricular offerings, we feel Iowa Connections Academy will break down geographic and other barriers to learning and help all Iowa students thrive academically.”

“Families in states with large rural populations— like Idaho, like Wyoming— have really embraced the Connections Academy schools in their areas, and our growth in the years we have served these regions shows we’re truly filling an educational need for these students and families,” noted Barbara Dreyer, chief executive officer of Connections Academy. “So we’re pleased to partner with CAM Community Schools to make our school program available for the first time to families in Iowa. We look forward to staffing our soon-to-be Anita teaching and attendance center with Iowa teachers and enrolling students for the 2012–13 school year.”

Iowa families seeking more information about IACA and its innovative approach to personalized public education can visit or call 800–382–6010. Informational meetings will take place throughout the state in February.

For more than a decade, Connections Academy schools have served tens of thousands of students and by virtue of their high quality and proven academic results have earned the reputation as a leader in virtual education. Connections Academy opened its first schools—serving 400 K–8 students—in 2002. Since then, strong parental demand for this innovative public school alternative has led Connections Academy to grow both its school network and student body by double-digits annually. With its launch, IACA joins the national network of 22 Connections Academy schools in 21 states that are serving more than 40,000 students in grades K–12 in 2011–12.

About Connections Academy
Connections Academy is a leading, fully accredited provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual schooling for students in grades K through 12. Through tuition-free public schools, and full-time and part-time private school programs, Connections Academy delivers superior, personalized education for students, with the freedom and flexibility to experience our 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. In the 2011–12 school year, Connections Academy will serve students in 21 states via 22 virtual public schools. It serves students worldwide through the online private school, National Connections Academy. Connections Academy offers grades K through 12, though some public school programs do not offer all grades. For more information, call 800–382–6010 or visit Connections Academy and its parent company, Connections Education, are part of the global learning company Pearson (NYSE:PSO)

About CAM Community School District
The CAM Community School District is a district of 470 students in rural Southwest Iowa. CAM strives to be a leader in technology and innovation, as evidenced by the following:  one-to-one laptop program in grades 3–12, interactive whiteboards in every classroom, Project Lead the Way (pre-engineering program), recent initiation of VREP (Virtual Reality Education Pathfinder using 3D animation), labs of iPads in lower elementary grades. This progressive approach is exemplified in the district’s mission statement: “to develop in all students the knowledge and skills required to be life-long learners and responsible citizens in an ever-changing society.”