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Nevada Connections Academy reaches out to Elko families

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ELKO – Nevada Connections Academy is hoping to change the way students in the state experience education.

The academy teaches the same curriculum approved by the Nevada State Board of Education but presents the lesson plans in the form of online classes. Interactive video, from teachers allow students to ask questions about the lesson as they would in a traditional classroom environment.

During a recent information session, Nevada Connections Academy teacher Reva Rindy said the school has expanded its enrollment since its start in 2007 and the flexibility offered with the online curriculum appeals to a wide variety of students.

“We have a wide variety of families with different circumstances. Sometimes they travel a lot or their student is in a sport that requires training during the day,” she said.

Even though the academy allows students to work from home, parents of students will not be responsible for teaching the lessons. Instead, academy teachers do what they can to remain in regular contact with their students remotely. Rindy said the level of communication takes the teaching responsibilities away from parents and allows a higher level of accountability than if the student was home schooled.

“The teachers are the ones who actually do the teaching,” she said. “We have virtual live lesson rooms where the students meet the teachers to go over confusing concepts and we do a lot of phone calling. But because we’re a public school we’re held accountable that way.”

One of the students present at the information session, Rachel Ahrens, said she had been home schooled from the beginning but thought the academy may provide her the structure she needed while allowing her to still study from home in Spring Creek.

“My mom wanted me to be home schooled until college but I really wanted to get more structure,” she said.

Ahrens’s mom, Juliana Ahrens-Grenber, said she chose to home school all of her children so she could remain active in their lives. Juliana wasn’t too excited about giving up teaching responsibilities but said she wanted to give her daughter options in regards to her education.

“I want to give my students the freedom of choice,” she said. “This is something she wants to explore so I’m going to allow her to do it if that’s what she wants to do.”

Kindergarten through eighth grade principal at the Nevada Connections Academy Heather Engelhardt said even though the majority of the students in the academy come from cities there is the potential for the academy to appeal to families in rural areas as well. Engelhardt pointed out that parents will still have access to teachers, while students will be able to enjoy field trips, socialization and other activities without having to adhere to the rigid daily schedule of a traditional school.

“The idea of that for a rural community is quite attractive,” she said.

Those interested in Nevada Connections Academy can find out more about the school at connectionsacademy.com.

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