Sunday, March 21, 2004

Online school offers students alternative



By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

An Ohio public charter school that students can attend from home with no tuition or supply costs will be recruiting in Cincinnati on Monday and Tuesday.

Ohio Connections Academy, a virtual school (or e-school), opened its Columbus office last year and has more than 150 students, most from Southwest Ohio.

"It's been a godsend for us," said Forest Park parent Terry Davis.

She enrolled her 10-year-old son, John, in the virtual school last year.

"He was in a private school and doing very well and I made a choice to teach him at home, but I found out in two weeks how challenging it is to pull together a curriculum," Davis said.

The Ohio Connections Academy (a K-8 school) - and Ohio's 40 other virtual schools - are public schools. They charge no tuition or fees to enroll students, they loan families computers, reimburse them for an Internet connection and provide all curriculum materials and technical support.

In addition, each student is assigned a certified teacher to oversee learning and assess student progress.

Dottie Howe, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Education, said Ohio has seen an increase in the number of virtual schools over the past several years.

Virtual schools are ideal for students who learn better outside the walls of a traditional classroom.

"They may have health issues, demanding extracurricular activities or just need a more individualized approach," said Mickey Revenaugh, vice president for partnerships and outreach for Ohio Connections Academy.

Davis said the curriculum for her son is "outstanding" and that he gets his physical education credit for the gymnastics he does.

One drawback, Davis said, is the lack of social interaction.

"He has to work to coordinate his social calendar and I try to consistently keep him involved in outside activities - there's a group of people that he sees on a weekly basis," Davis said. "We do a lot of field trips with these people and others who are home-schooling in the area."

If you go

Schedule of information sessions on Ohio Connections Academy:

Monday: 2-3:30 p.m. at Blue Ash Branch of Cincinnati Public Library, 4911 Cooper Road; and 6:30-8 p.m. at Groesbeck Branch, 2994 Galbraith Road.

Tuesday: 2-3:30 p.m. at Middletown Public Library, 125 South Broad St., Middletown; and 6:30-8 p.m. at Lane Public Library, 300 North Street, Hamilton.

Thursday: 6:30-8 p.m. at Books 'N' More, 28 W. Main St., Wilmington.

For information, go to www.connectionsacademy.com or call (800) 382-6010.

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E-mail annag376@aol.com




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