James Hamilton is father and Learning Coach to Price a middle school student at Willamette Connections Academy. The Hamiltons learned about Willamette Connections Academy while doing research in April 2020 in response to local school reactions to COVID-19 and enrolled their son soon thereafter. Mr. Hamilton shares his story below:
“We chose Willamette Connections Academy because we wanted our son to be engaged with the program and we wanted more transparency with his learning journey. We were very attracted to the role of the Learning Coach, relieved that we were not expected to be teachers, but excited that our role would be to advocate for his success.
When our son was attending the local middle school, we would ask him about his day and would get barely more than “it was okay.” Now, we regularly discuss what he is learning and his interests. The Connections Academy system has brought us closer together. We also feel well-connected to Price’s teachers. Occasionally, we speak with teachers on the phone, but we generally use the Connections Academy email system to communicate with our son’s teachers. They are very responsive and consistently eager to help our son succeed.
In the beginning of the year, our son was struggling with how to take notes effectively. I taught him how to use Microsoft OneNote and now he uses it extensively. As a result, he is now a fabulous note-taker, and the success has been evident in his grades.
“I wish we had transitioned to Connections Academy years ago.”
Given the restrictions of last year due to COVID-19, our son has adjusted to playing online with friends. He plays video games with his friends remotely. He also has a regularly scheduled Dungeons and Dragons play session using Zoom. Price enjoys daily 2+ mile walks with his mother and our dog. He has been passionately learning Taekwondo for 3 ½ years. These two activities form the basis for his PE activity log. In this manner, pursuing his interests also serves as meeting his PE class obligations. He also enjoys all types of games (card, board, video, etc.). His desire to play games motivates him to complete his daily lessons in order to make time in the evening for game-playing.
Our son wants to be a black-belt martial artist, but his career path is based in engineering or science. His interest in Viking mythos have convinced him that he wants to live in Norway. Connections Academy allows him to earn PE credit for his passion in martial arts, while providing him with relevant skills like online researching and APA citation formatting that will serve as a foundation for his career.
While attending our local school system, he seemed very bored. His classwork and daily activities in school were subjects he avoided discussing. Since enrolling in Connections Academy, his attitude about school has completely changed. We have great discussions about his lessons and learning journey. We are also convinced that the curriculum he is learning now is significantly higher than what was offered at our local school. ”
I am really impressed with how Connections Academy is all about focusing on my son’s success. By transparently showing each lesson and live interaction session on a calendar, my son has total control of his success. By focusing on the parent’s role as Learning Coaches, we become advocates for our son’s success. By providing a staff of professional and compassionate educators, the teachers consistently focus their attention on our son’s success. ”