By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
There are numerous charter schools throughout Indiana, but only a couple that are completely virtual. Indiana Connections Academy (INCA) is one such charter that offers an alternative to “brick-and-mortar schools,” as Kaitlyn Belcher, a math teacher for INCA, put it.
Indiana Connections Academy, founded in 2010, is a tuition-free, virtual K-12 charter school that provides a fully accredited public education to students statewide. The school is one of many Connections Academies in nearly 30 states and is held to the same standards as public schools.
Belcher spoke to a couple of families Tuesday evening at the Holiday Inn on Scatterfield Road and said INCA’s curriculum goes beyond state standards as it is designed for student success.
“We don’t have to worry about discipline problems in classrooms,” she said. “We’re able to actually focus on the curriculum.”
A personalized learning plan is developed for each student as goals are set, assessments given and feedback is provided.
Belcher said teachers can pull up a student’s plan anytime to see where they are academically, where they need enrichment and where they’re excelling. The school offers support for challenging areas, like Math XL, to fill gaps.
And besides teachers and the students themselves, parents play a big role, serving as learning coaches who keep tabs on areas like attendance, and can view grades to see where a student is struggling or succeeding.
Chrystal York has children in Anderson Preparatory Academy and said she’s considering INCA for her middle-school-aged daughter because of the flexibility and chance for more parent participation.
“There’d be more focus on the education than the (teenage) drama,” York added.
She said INCA seems like a good choice for students who are struggling to make it in, as Belcher put it, “brick-and-mortar schools.” For example, she knows one parent who has a son with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder that could benefit from fewer distractions.
And she’s heard nothing but good things from another parent who already has a child in INCA, saying it “made a big difference in his education.”
In addition to classes for talented students, like AP courses, and extra attention for those who need it, Belcher said, there are extracurricular clubs available and enhancements like a new a Juilliard School partnership, the first ever online platform for the conservatory.
She said INCA is very user friendly — “you can log on anytime, anywhere,” she said — and hours are flexible as long as students complete 25 hours per week in elementary school and 30 hours per week in middle and high school.
The only time students have to leave their homes is to go to ISTEP test sites, she added, typically within a 50-mile drive.
Enrollment is now open and can be completed at www.connectionsacademy.com.
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