New Public K-12 Virtual School Washington Connections Academy Kicks Off 2016-2017 School Year

Spaces still available for tuition-free public school serving Washington students in grades K-8

Tumwater, WA (August 31, 2016) — Online public school Washington Connections Academy kicked off its first school year on Aug. 29, providing a new option for students in Washington to go back to school with a flexible, individualized education. Sponsored by the Mary M. Knight School District, the innovative school is still enrolling families across the state interested in flexible learning outside the walls of a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom. Students in grades K-8 will head back to school for the 2016-17 school year, with an additional grade added each subsequent year.

Many types of students can benefit from the Washington Connections Academy model, including rural students, student athletes and musicians, as well as those who learn at a slower or faster pace than their peers. Students at Washington Connections Academy can choose from a variety of courses to build their schedule, including gifted and talented offerings. Outside of the classroom, students can take part in clubs and activities, as well as in-person field trips that provide opportunities for socialization.

“Throughout the last few months, we’ve met many families who are equally as passionate as we are about innovative education opportunities and excited about Connections Academy coming to Washington,” said Mike Lunde, principal at Washington Connections Academy. “We look forward to welcoming our first class of students in Washington and helping each student reach his or her full potential. Through our unique online program, I know we’ll be able to ensure our students receive a top-notch education, tailored to their needs.”

The new school year kicks off just as the results of a recent national public opinion poll supported by Connections Education found that 76 percent of Americans support online learning options, and 67 percent of respondents agree that online schools have the potential to better personalize education to each student based on his or her needs.

In preparation for the school's inaugural year, Washington Connections Academy hired 10 state-credentialed teachers, principal Mike Lunde and an administrative assistant.

Staff members include:

  • Mike Lunde, principal
  • Tia Reisinger, special education services manager
  • Rachel Thomas, counselor
  • Maria Calvey, elementary teacher
  • Erika Montgomery, elementary teacher
  • Suzette Fernandez, elementary teacher
  • Donovan Croyle, middle school teacher
  • Katherine Johnson, middle school teacher
  • Carrie Meadows, middle school teacher
  • Jacquie Shawlet, art teacher
  • Susan Sunderland, technology teacher
  • Tosha Knight, administrative assistant

Enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year is still open, and online parent panels are being held for families interested in learning about its online program and individualized approach to education. For more information on Washington Connections Academy, please visit the school’s website at

About Washington Connections Academy
Washington Connections Academy is a tuition-free, high-quality, highly accountable virtual public school sponsored by the Mary M. Knight School District to serve students in grades K-12 throughout Washington. Opening in fall 2016, Washington Connections Academy will serve grades K-8, and an additional grade will be added each subsequent school year. Washington Connections Academy provides students with the flexibility to learn from anywhere with a high-quality curriculum that meets rigorous state education standards. The combination of state-credentialed teachers, a proven curriculum, unique electives, technology tools and community experiences creates a supportive and successful online learning opportunity for families and children who want an individualized approach to education. For more information, call 800-382-6010 or visit