|Online giant Connections Education opening charter high school in American Seating Park complex in Grand Rapids|
By: Monica Scott
|July 07, 2012|
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - The second largest leader in online education, Connections Education, plans to open a charter high school this fall - Nexus Academy of Grand Rapids.
The company, based in Baltimore, is opening physical versions of its virtual high schools, Nexus Academy schools, in four other cities besides Grand Rapids: Lansing, Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus. The tuition-free open enrollment will have a college prep focus.
The Grand Rapids school will be located at 801 Broadway Ave. NW, in the American Seating Park complex. Officials expect to serve 250 to 300 students in grades nine through 12 on the second floor of the office building.
"Grand Rapids has been on the cutting edge of new school models and school choice both in the traditional public school setting and charters," said Mickey Revenaugh, executive vice president of Connections Education, about why Grand Rapids was chosen as a site.
"Certified teachers will interact with students both online and on-site. Every student has a specialized learning plan with the blended learning, which accommodates itself well to wherever a student might be in their performance."
Revenaugh said two math and two science teachers will be on-site and they are close to naming a principal. She said the school will offer visual and performing arts courses, bringing in instructors and have a fitness center on site.
The new blended learning high school plans to offer students access to core academic courses in math, science, social studies and English as well as Advanced Placement courses. Foreign language offerings will include Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, German, Latin and Sign Language.
Revenaugh said students will be issued laptops but Connections is exploring the best tablet solution to access its curriculum. She said Central Michigan University officials are scheduled to vote on authorizing the charter next week.
A five-member school board will be named after that expected approval.
This is the third charter school to announce plans to open this fall. Pastor and gospel singer Marvin Sapp is opening a performing arts school, the Grand Rapids Ellington Academy of Arts and Technology (GREAAT), at 600 Burton St.SE. The school will initially serve 225 students in sixth, seventh and eighth-grades but expects to add a grade each year through 12th grade.
National Heritage Academies, the for-profit management company that operates charter schools, is also opening a school in the old Grand Rapids Oakdale Elementary, 944 Evergreen St. SE. The River City Scholars Charter Academy will serve 500 students in Young Five kindergarten through fifth-grade but plans to add grades annually through eighth grade.
Kent Intermediate School District this fall will also launch a new hybrid school platform offering students various instructor-led online learning options combined with face-to-face teaching and a success coach to mentor.
Education and publishing giant, Pearson acquired Connections Education last year for $400 million. Connections Education has operated one of Michigan`s two virtual charter schools, Connections Academy in Okemos. State lawmakers have lifted the cap on cyber schools.
In the 2012-2013 school year, 24 Connections Academy virtual public schools will operate in 22 states and are expected to serve more than 40,000 students from across the U.S.
Enrollment is under way for the upcoming school year for the physical building and information sessions for interested students and their families are scheduled online and in person. Grand Rapids has online sessions scheduled for Monday and Wednesday between noon and 1 p.m. and an open house at the J.W. Marriott, 235 Louis St. NW, on Thursday from noon to 1:30 p.m.
There is a temporary website and interested students and their families may call 888-533-6360 to learn more.
"This school is perfect for any student who has ambitions of pursuing a post-secondary education and wants to be really prepared for that in a more rigorous individualized learning environment," Revenaugh said.
The Grand Rapids school will accept students throughout the region but charters do not provide transportation. Breakfast and lunch will also not be provided on site, rather snacks and beverages throughout the day. Revenaugh said they will determine if a formal meal plan needs to be offered after interacting with students.
Students will attend school on a morning or afternoon shift, officials say, to ensure an optimal student-to-staff ratio while allowing time in the school day for internships, college dual enrollment, and pursuit of personal interests such as performing arts.
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