Ohio Connections Academy (OCA) high school social studies teacher Matthew Waits, of West Chester, has been with the online public charter school since 2014. He began teaching in traditional public schools in 1998 before coming to OCA and currently holds a master’s degree in teaching from Miami University.
According to Mr. Waits, his decision to leave the traditional classroom came when he realized he was spending more time keeping track of attendance and lesson completion and less time face-to-face managing students and their behavior. “I was ready for a change,” Mr. Waits said.
As a teacher at OCA, Mr. Waits said he most likes the team atmosphere that exists. “Our staff is very welcoming and supportive, so as soon as I have a question or get stuck, someone is there to help me out,” he said. “In my physical classroom, I felt isolated much of the time. Here, I have an online family anytime I need them.”
Perhaps an example of the team atmosphere Mr. Waits speaks of is reflected in his nomination by his colleagues as one of Ohio Connections Academy’s Star Staff Members of the Month. In their nomination, OCA teachers Kaitlin Finan and Troy Fowler both shared the story of a student who wrote Mr. Waits to express their appreciation for his help. The student previously had bad experiences with history teachers, and Mr. Waits was able to change the student’s feelings and address their anxieties about the subject. In her nomination of Mr. Waits, OCA teacher Kayla Leader said he always goes the extra mile to help students feel welcome and comfortable.
Mr. Waits says his greatest hope is that the work that OCA staff members do, and the difference they make for the families, will be better understood and appreciated by people across Ohio and the leaders in Columbus.
“OCA has had a significant impact, in the best possible way, on thousands of students and families all over Ohio. If you don’t already know us, reach out and meet us. We’re here to help,” Mr. Waits said.
OCA has had a significant impact, in the best possible way, on thousands of students and families all over Ohio.