Online public school relieves traditional-school pressures

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on August 25, 2011 at 8:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 21 at 6:20 PM

ROCKWALL - Going back to school is tough, but it gets a little easier when you don't have to change out of your pajamas.

Rockwall 15-year-old Brittany Short and her sister, third grader Julianna, go to school without ever leaving the house. They are students in an on-line public school called Texas Connections Academy.

"Instead of going to the neighborhood school for classes, they are in their own home environment or anywhere that the students can connect to the internet," said Texas Connections Academy teacher Victoria Thiebaud.

The Texas Connections Academy is state certified. Curriculum, attendance and the types of classes are what you find at a traditional school - only virtual.

"The online classroom is cutting edge for me," Thiebaud said. "It's just been exciting for me to go in there with those students and watch the light bulb turn on."

State-certified teachers conduct lessons by computer. They communicate with students through a virtual classroom, by email and by telephone.

"They will respond to me whenever i need them and they answer my phone calls," Brittany Short said.

Brittany once struggled with school, but the one-on-one teacher attention has helped her make the honor role and she now looks forward to learning.

"The favorite part is the flexibility of my schedule," Brittany Short said. "I can do school whenever I want."

Field trips, socials and athletic outings keep Brittany connected socially, without some of the high school pressures.

"There is just a lot of problems and drama with the girls and it's easier to walk away from it now," Brittany Short said.

Her mother, Kaydee Short, sees benefits as well.

"This allows us to keep them challenged constantly and it also helps us better control a little bit of what is influencing them," Kaydee Short said.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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