Melissa Steele, Parent

Melissa Steele

Like all parents, Melissa Steele wanted to make sure her daughter, Oregon Connections Academy (ORCA) high-school student Carlie Steele, received an education that matched her needs, from the curriculum to the extracurricular activities and quality-of-life issues. At first, Melissa had some concerns about transitioning her daughter Carlie to online school, but she quickly educated herself on the benefits and decided that an alternative setting provided the best solution for her child.

“My main fear was that Carlie would lose out on socialization opportunities, but this quickly proved to be an irrational fear,” said Melissa. “The flexibility of online learning allowed for swimming lessons, piano lessons, softball, basketball, and volleyball, without the exhaustion of being ‘at school’ all day. Our state athletics association offers virtual-school students the opportunity to participate in their home district in athletics, band, dance, and many other activities. Carlie’s socialization is tailored to her, and we feel quite lucky.

Carlie’s Kindness Campaign requires a lot of daytime hours for meetings and speaking engagements, so she needed the flexibility to do her school work around her nonprofit work. Connections Academy works for us because there are fewer distractions, which makes for a more productive learning environment.

We felt that Carlie needed educational programming that was more tailored to her strengths. Being an advanced student, she sometimes had to teach herself, either at a back table or in the hallway because she had already learned the material being covered in the classroom.

We love the flexibility, safety, individualized education based on each student’s strengths and weaknesses, incredible teachers and staff, the ease of use of Connexus, and the field trips. We never feel like we’re doing this alone; there are so many wonderful people and happy families within Connections Academy.

As a parent, I truly believe that with this school choice, we are laying the foundation for a good work ethic, essential workforce skills, and a love of learning. I would absolutely recommend Connections Academy to other families. In fact, I have referred many families! Carlie’s life is so busy with Carlie’s Kindness Campaign, and parents often ask me how she does it all. Connections Academy is a major reason she is able to do so much. Without the flexibility and all-around stellar, personalized educational program, Carlie would not be able to juggle it all. Did it take a leap of faith to try something new and different? Absolutely, not only is Carlie better off for it, our entire family is as well. We are grateful to have this opportunity".

Connections Academy works for us because there are fewer distractions, which makes for a more productive learning environment.
— Melissa