A San Joaquin County virtual school has recently added eight new credentialed teachers to serve students in the Lodi and Galt area.
California Connections Academy, based in Ripon, serves more than 500 students in kindergarten through 12th grade throughout Alameda, Amador, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties.
The academy is part of a statewide trend that shows multi-district, fully online schools grew in California by 73 percent in the last year, and 289 percent in the last five years.
California Connections Academy currently has 578 students enrolled in its second year; 216 of those live in San Joaquin and Sacramento counties.
The school began its inaugural year last year with 53 students. The student body grew to 100 before Christmas 2012, and ended the year with 283 students, according to spokeswoman Annie Drury.
New teacher Brooke Shamhart said the main reason for increased enrollment is that families are seeking the flexibility and personalization that a virtual school can provide. She lives in Galt and has a group of 29 eighth-grade students whom she works with regularly.
“I’ve worked in education for more than 38 years, and in that time I’ve found that successful students start with passionate teachers,” Tim Batiuk, principal at California Connections Academy, said in a news release. “We’re fortunate to have a top-notch group of educators, cutting-edge technology and a high-quality curriculum. This enables our students to have individualized learning that caters to their strengths and weaknesses.”
The academy’s education model provides its students with a flexible learning environment that meets their individual learning needs and the state’s rigorous academic standards. Students can interact with one another through field trips, which the school holds nearly every week, to local learning sites such as art museums and dairy farms, as well as through group labs and live lessons.
The school also offers visits to college campuses, which are open to all grade levels, and Career Technical Education courses for high school students with in-depth career and field of study exploration opportunities.