Young boy wearing headphones while on a laptop

Lea Hutchison

Lea Hutchison photo

Lea Hutchinson is the proud parent of two Willamette Connections Academy students and one graduate. Lea values the flexibility and quality of the program, and the ability to be an integral part of her children’s education. She shares her family’s story below:

“My favorite activity as a Learning Coach is being able to work together, blending “old school” ideas with new-world technology. I have two students currently enrolled and one other student who graduated in 2019.

“Two of my children attended brick-and-mortar schools before they came to Connections Academy®, so I feel I can say they were far more successful once they came to this school. There is no direct way to compare the education they received from their former school with that of online school. In the online format, they are able to go as fast or slow as needed; get immediate, one-on-one help from a variety of supports; and gain not only academic strengths but self-confidence. There’s no replacement or comparison for that.

“Many aspects of the program work well for both me and my kids. The program lessons are self-contained, meaning that the information needed to be successful is given within each lesson. I also like that all types of learners supported. Another aspect is that when you open your Learning Coach page and follow along with your student within the lesson, there are teaching notes for those who may need them. You are learning together—and I feel that’s important.

“I also love that I can see that my children are successful each school day—from seeing the instant results in the grade book to listening to them speak of what they learned in casual conversation.

“Each of my students has unique likes and favorite subjects. My first grader loves math and excels in this area, so we spend time doing out-of-the-box things to support him where he is in his learning. An example of this is blending math ideas with cooking, since he also loves to cook.

My fourth grader is an accelerated reader, and she loves language arts, where she gets to learn about books. We also spend time doing out-of-the-box things to support her love of reading, like writing an alternative ending to her favorite “new” book.

We live in rural eastern Oregon, where the spaces between towns can be greater than 20 miles. It’s important to me that my children be as social as they feel they need to be. They’re involved in church, attend religious-based groups, and 4-H. They stay connected, and I feel are connected in a deeper way by choosing to belong to groups that resonate with them.

I believe communication is important with teachers as well as it being part of Willamette Connections Academy’s philosophy. I try to stay as connected as I can by communicating thru WebMail when or if we run into a problem or if my student has had anything happen in everyday life that may affect their learning. I view us as a team, and each of us holds a piece of what allows our students to become successful.

As a rural-based family, our interests vary with the season. We love to go exploring the rich history of the area we live in, fish in the local spots, and tend to chickens and other livestock. With the flexibility in the schedule, we’re able to blend our need to do activities like farm chores with school schedules.

My children have lots of dreams of what they will become someday. I can use my older daughter as an example of how Willamette Connections Academy supported her dreams of having a career as a crime scene photographer in the criminal justice system, , since she’s living it right now! Connections Academy was such a great support in online learning for her that now that she’s in college, she’s steps ahead of her peers in the knowledge of online formats for education. Not only was she able to take photography throughout high school, but she also took criminal justice classes that fostered her love of this career."

There are so many things that I like best about Connections Academy, but at the end of the day, the direct results of a quality program coupled with superb teachers show in the happiness and readiness to learn in my children.
— Lea, Parent