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K’nextions Learning Academy Creating Opportunities

K’nextions Learning Academy, a program provided by the Lake County Educational Service Center, is in their inaugural year opening their doors in August 2014. Lake ESC Director of Teaching and Learning, Heidi Fyffe-Yocum said, “This concept of an online learning academy came to me when I attended a technology conference and coupled the idea with a way to help our students achieve their goals. We recognized that many students were leaving their home school districts either for other online learning programs – in many cases resulting in a loss of state revenue to the district as well as the student was not receiving a diploma from their school.”

Significant research was done along with gathering data to understand how many schools in the area were losing state funding as a result of students leaving their districts, the number of students who were attending other online programs, and most importantly identifying students who withdrew from their home schools that had not yet completed graduation or course requirements. The data substantiated the need and K’nextions Learning Academy was developed.

The concept and benefits of what the grades 6-12 online program would offer was shared with Lake County Educational Service Center member district superintendents and other school leaders in May 2014. This program was different; it would allow students to attend the K’nextions online programming and if they completed course requirements, they would have the opportunity to receive a diploma from their home school district. In addition, it allows students to participate in all of the extracurricular activities and events –such as being a member of a district athletic team, participate in band, choir or drama club, or attend Prom, and to participate in graduation ceremonies.

The districts quickly realized the financial benefits; as they would not lose all of the state funding that occurs when a student leaves the district for other online schools or transfers out of the district. It was quickly recognized as a win-win for all – most importantly the academic success of students and helping them to achieve their individual goals.

“This program is just one example of how the Lake County Educational Service Center works with our member districts to provide high quality educational programming using a shared services model, that offers exceptional programming at an exceptional value,” stated Lake County Superintendent Dr. Brian Bontempo.

During the summer of 2014 significant outreach was done to locate and reach students who had left their home districts to provide them with information about K’nextions Learning Academy. As this was a new program for many, informational meetings were held inviting parents and students affording them the opportunity to learn more about the program, understanding they could enroll as either a part-time or full-time student and to ask other questions about KLA.

K’nextions Learning Academy curriculum is aligned with all state standards, meaning that students are required to take and meet all state mandated tests. The curriculum that is offered is extensive… students can take a wide variety of courses including math, science, language arts, foreign language, social studies, and a variety of electives. The electives are wide-ranging and include offerings in computer science, anthropology, digital photography, forensic science, music appreciation, web design, veterinary science, and many more.

Upon registration all students enrolled in the program are provided with a Chromebook computer to complete their assignments. They have the opportunity for additional support with tutoring, working one-on-one and in person each week with a highly qualified teacher at the Lake County Educational Service Center. There academic progress is reported just like a student enrolled in a traditional school with a periodic KLA report card.

In first year, nineteen 5th year seniors are now eligible for graduation this year. These students completed the required OGT testing and if they pass all state requirements will now be eligible to graduate with their friends from their home school district. Daniel a 5th year senior said, “Thanks KLA! I wouldn't have made it without this school. I finally get my diploma.”

‘We learned a lot this year, we made modifications when we needed to and provided an exceptional opportunity for all students to be successful. The military does not accept a GED and K’nextions Learning Academy affords students pursuing a military career that option. One of the keys to our success is the direct result of our personal connection with all of our students – we are not just another online school. We follow and monitor our student’s individual progress, if a student is not logged in we connect with them, and remind them that they have additional one-on-one support if they need it,” stated Fyffe-Yocum.

Another new option for students is the opportunity to take online summer school with registration currently taking place. Students have the opportunity to start the 2015-16 school year on track - making up any needed credits or taking additional courses to advance their individual education. Our goal is to meet the educational needs of all students from credit recovery to advanced placement course offerings, serving all students including gifted students. This is another benefit provided to our member districts as they save precious district resources by sending their students to K’nextions Learning Academy and a great example of how working together benefits all and meets the needs of today’s learners.

To learn more about K’nextions Learning Academy and the positive impact this program is having on students in northeast Ohio please contact Heidi Fyffe-Yocum, Director at hfyffe@lakeesc.org or Karen Zylak, K’nextions Assistant at kzylak@lakeesc.org or by calling 440.350.2563.