Headshot of Heidi Calma

Heidi Calma

English Teacher

Bachelor of Arts, Old Dominion University; Master of Arts in Education, Virginia Tech; Educational Specialist, University of Virginia (in progress)

Heidi Calma started teaching in 2001, joined Connections Academy® in 2020, and began teaching at Virginia Connections Academy in 2022. She teaches English to students in grades 8–10.

Why I Decided to Become a Teacher

According to Ms. Calma, “I became a teacher because I had two English teachers who inspired me to believe in myself as a reader, writer, and thinker. Their passion for their subject and the craft of teaching and the ways they impacted students’ lives was something I wanted in my own career.

“I believe student engagement comes when they feel seen, heard, and respected. Establishing relationships with students based on empathy and understanding has been key to encouraging them to commit to success in their courses.

“To encourage interaction among students, I build activities into our face-to-face LiveLesson® sessions that allow them to get to know one another and work together. . . . I also set up group study opportunities where students can come to my LiveLesson online room and work on assignments, review for upcoming assessments, or take a brain break and chat about something unrelated to school.”

The Online School Program Experience at Virginia Connections Academy

“Teaching students online allows for a more responsive and personalized learning experience,” reports Ms. Calma. “The most rewarding part of teaching here is working with students individually to help them achieve success based on their unique needs.

“Our students don’t have the same kind of structure found in brick-and-mortar schools, so they learn to set up their schedules based on their needs. They become more in tune with who they are as learners and become proficient and comfortable advocating for themselves in their communication with their teachers. These skills are universal and will be applied in many ways throughout their lives. 

“So often, parents feel overwhelmed by the idea of directly participating in their child’s education. I always offer support and encouragement by helping them understand that we embrace a team approach. No one person is supporting a student alone, and parents and learning coaches have a big team of teachers and adults helping create the path to success.”

My Personal Interests

“I’m a spin instructor at a local spin studio a few evenings a week. I enjoy spending time with my family and two dogs. Photography is a hobby of mine; I had a newborn photography business for eight years.”

“An education here gives students a strong foundation as independent learners, thinkers, and citizens.”

— Ms. Calma