In Case You Missed the News: 2013-14 School Year in Review
Throughout the 2013–14 school year, Connections Academy students, educators, and programs collected dozens of awards. In case you missed the news, here’s a brief recap of just a few of those honors.
Students Making Headlines and a Difference
From designing unmanned aircraft to figure skating, Connections Academy students across the country participated in competitions that reflected their wide range of talents as well as their many hours of hard work.
- In Pennsylvania, a Commonwealth Connections Academy (CCA) engineering team won first place in the state’s Real World Design Competition for the fourth straight year. Another CCA team took second place. This year’s design challenge? Develop an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) able to detect pest damage done to a farmer’s crop and the business plan needed to take the UAV to market. CCA team member Courtney Thurston also received the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Award for Aspirations in Computing, which recognizes outstanding young women for technical achievement.
- Arizona Connections Academy students tackled futuristic design challenges, too, as they planned how Phoenix would address its transportation needs fifty years from today in the national Future City Competition. The project-based learning experience challenges middle school students to apply science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills to designing and building cities of the future.
- In New Mexico’s statewide “Letters about Literature” competition, New Mexico Connections Academy student Katya Waid won first place for grades 9–12 for a letter to author Harper Lee in which she described how To Kill a Mockingbird taught her about the coexistence of good and evil.
- Capistrano Connections Academy (CapoCA) student Vincent Zhou, the 2013 US Figure Skating Junior Men’s National Champion, became the youngest member on the 2013–14 US Figure Skating National Team.
Of course, Connections Academy students were contributing as well as competing.
- After winning the Miss Junior Teen Las Vegas pageant in March, Nevada Connections Academy student Holly Hoffbauer began leveraging her new role to increase support for two local nonprofits.
- Gabriele Eggerling, a CapoCA student, started the nonprofit Mission: Hero (Helping Others Read Out Loud), which donated more than a thousand books to low-income kids in southern California.
- Oregon Connections Academy students celebrated Community Service Day by “deep cleaning” a local food bank and volunteering in other projects across the state.
- Student performing artists from Connections Academy schools in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina shared their school experiences in a panel discussion fittingly entitled “Actors and Dancers and Artists Online: Prodigies Speak Out about Virtual School” at the national Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) conference in Los Angeles.
Connections Academy’s Educators, Leaders, Curriculum, and Technology: Leading Innovation
From outstanding teaching to innovating technology and curriculum, Connections Academy educators earned honors, as well:
- Lea Ann Lockard, executive director of Texas Connections Academy @ Houston, and Bryan Klochack, principal of Michigan Connections Academy, were each honored with 2014 International Distance Learning Awards. Presented by the United States Distance Learning Association, the award recognizes their outstanding leadership in the field of distance learning.
- CCA teacher William Erler was named a national runner-up in PublicSchoolOptions.org’s Pioneer of Teaching competition. The nonprofit parents’ alliance annually recognizes top-performing K–12 teachers working in nontraditional schools.
- CCA teachers Ellen Hartman, Michael Cote, and Stephanie Clark won spots on LearnZillion’s 2014 Dream Team. Representing 201 of the nation’s most effective math and English/language arts teachers, the Dream Team will work collaboratively to share and develop best practices for teachers throughout the country to use to create new possibilities for students.
- Indiana Connections Academy teacher Stacy Miceli won the National Center for Women & Information Technology’s 2014 Aspirations in Computing Award for encouraging young women to explore computing and technology.
- Two of Connections Education’s founders were recognized for transforming education and enriching the lives of students through technology. Mickey Revenaugh, executive vice president of Connections Education, received Ed Tech Digest’s 2014 Visionary Award. Steven Guttentag, former head of International Connections Academy and president of Connections Learning by Pearson—and current global head of direct delivery for Pearson—was a finalist for the digest’s Leadership Award for Edupreneurs and EdTech Startups.
Connections Education also won multiple national awards for outstanding technology and curriculum, including ComputEd Gazette’s Best Education Software (BESSIE) Award and Education Software Review (EDDIE) Award for:
- Best vocational training website for our career and technology education courses
- Best remediation website for our GradPoint™ applications
- Best science website for our middle school science course
Connexus®, Connections Academy’s education management system, was also named as an EdTech Digest Award finalist in the learning management system category.
While we don’t have space to list all this year’s awards, we’d love to hear firsthand about your student’s many accomplishments in the comments below.