Christina Vail is a fifth grade teacher at Utah Connections Academy (UCA). She started her teaching career in 2004 and joined UCA in 2014. Mrs. Vail earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Brigham Young University, and plans to earn her master’s degree in educational technology from Boise State University. She shares more about her story below.
"I became a teacher because my mother worked in elementary schools and education was always valued in my home. My parents were well educated with multiple higher education degrees, so they set that expectation for me. I always knew I was supposed to go into teaching—it was kind of like my calling in life. It wasn’t until I was hired as a state observer during college that I decided to teach at the elementary level. I was able to observe more than 100 elementary teachers during a short period and fell in love with the students and teaching. My first teaching job was at middle school when I was only 23 years old. I probably looked like one of the students walking down the hall. I taught for two years and loved going to work every day; it didn’t feel like work for me. I stopped teaching for about six years, as I had three children and went into business ownership. I eventually found my way back to teaching in 2014. Since I have young children, I wanted to find a teaching position that would allow me to be able to balance my career and family life. Connections Academy was that perfect fit for me. My background with business and love for teaching and technology was the perfect combination for a career as a teacher at an online school.
UCA has been a very positive experience for me. The collaboration with the staff and administration to help students succeed and have a great academic experience is incredible. There are set expectations and we are held accountable for our responsibilities. This accountability system creates a culture where teachers do not feel micromanaged, but rather, feel motivated to do their jobs effectively. We have a great supportive culture and we all really enjoy the times we spend together.
Even though I work remotely and don’t see my students in a physical classroom setting every day, I am still able to establish a relationship with them through daily real-time online classrooms, phone calls, field trips, emails, and comments that I provide in assessments. Since I can focus on student data because I am not managing classroom behavior, I am able to identify students’ needs and work with parents to create a plan to help each student reach his or her potential. The key for a student’s success is creating a relationship with his or her family and establishing expectations of the roles and responsibilities of the teacher, parent, and student in this online setting. The vast amount of technology Connections Academy provides for us allows us to facilitate student’s success from a distance. There are many opportunities for students to excel not only academically with individualized instruction, but also socially.
If you are looking for a better educational experience for your child, UCA may be the right fit. Students can independently work at a structured pace with support and accountability from an accredited teacher. This ability to work independently allows students to self-assess their own learning and take ownership of their educational experience.
Outside of teaching, I enjoy hiking, biking, snowboarding, swimming, camping, traveling with my three boys. I am also very involved with my church and like being with my family and friends."
The key for a student’s success is creating a relationship with his or her family and establishing expectations of the roles and responsibilities of the teacher, parent, and student in this online setting.