Local Viewpoints
3:05 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Online School: A Great Option For Many Families

Submitted by:

Yvonne Duhigg

New Mexico Connections Academy parent and founding school board member

I feel empowered knowing the option for online school exists for my family, my son, and moreover for other families in New Mexico who value the right to have education options.  As with anything new, online schools, such as New Mexico Connections Academy, can have skeptics.  Since experience allows for informed opinions, I’m honored to share mine.

I have a unique perspective of online learning: both as a founding school board member for New Mexico Connections Academy, and as a parent of a New Mexico Connections Academy student.  My fifth-grade son is thriving with the school’s online program that is accredited by AdvancED, an educational organization representing thousands of schools across the U.S. and beyond.  As a board member and parent, I appreciate that the school employs highly-trained administrators and New Mexico-certified teachers, because my son deserves the same opportunity to have a high-quality education as everyone else. 

My son is held to the same standards of accountability as his peers at traditional brick-and-mortar schools including state testing, certified teachers, and Common Core-aligned curriculum—the school is also held to charter school accountability and performance frameworks from the authorizer. At New Mexico Connections Academy, my son learns in a more personalized environment that keeps him from getting distracted and allows him to focus more easily than in a traditional classroom setting.  The school’s standards-aligned curriculum, which comes with set timeframes and expectations for its students, provides the critical outside, professional help I needed as a former homeschooling mother, who was in search of an atmosphere that required my son to answer to someone other than me. My son is also accountable to his teachers, and interacts with them frequently, receiving direct instruction during real-time online lessons.

At New Mexico Connections Academy, I take an active role in my son’s education and oversee his academic progress at home as his “Learning Coach.” In addition, New Mexico Connections Academy values and respects the need for social interaction.  My son has many opportunities to connect with his classmates and teachers—he participates in Movie Club and Robotics Club with New Mexico Connections Academy, can attend regular in-person field trips, and connect with his friends in the online classroom. Plus, the flexibility allows my son to explore his interest in theatre and martial arts outside of school.

Just as traditional school is not the best fit for every student, online school is not the best fit for every student—but there are many families who want and need this option. The New Mexico Connections Academy school board, a non-profit, independent entity, is proud to contract with Connections Academy to offer a non-traditional public school option—a choice—for families in search of one. As a board member, and most importantly a parent, I recommend all families research and seek out education options to determine the best fit for their students to thrive. While a virtual academy may not be right for everyone, it has been the best choice for my family.