I’ve worked in education for over 20 years and am executive director of two schools: Indiana Connections Academy and Indiana Connections Career Academy. My predecessor, Melissa Brown, helped prepare me over the last four years to be fair, transparent, vigilant and tenacious.
Our schools, virtual charter schools, serve 5,000 children statewide. We do not take that responsibility lightly. We are steadfast in our commitment to public education. We are relentless about high expectations for not only our students, but ourselves. Many of my staff, myself included, served in traditional public schools. We know how to do school. We know state law. We respect our board of directors, State Board of Education, Indiana Department of Education, authorizer and online school partner. We understand the rules for operating a public charter school, including fiscal responsibility, state reporting and due process.
Our certified teachers, counselors and administrators work daily with students to ensure an educational experience that yields consistent engagement, high achievement and graduation. Our staff is positioned to meet students’ needs, both academic and emotional. The delivery of our education is virtual, however, the academic rigor, diploma pathways and course options are equal to our brick-and-mortar colleagues.
Virtual schools, like district public and private schools, are not all the same. It is time for policymakers and public communities to recognize that; there are bound to be a few in education who act as if they are above the law. We are naive if we believe bad actors—those who scam, scheme, and take advantage of the public’s trust—don’t exist in education the same as they do in any industry. We are also naive if we lump all virtual schools into the same categories of ethical and methodological practices.
Lately, I feel compelled to answer the question about “being like other virtual schools.” Our schools are distinctly different than Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy in purpose, practice and expectations. Come and see what we do and how we serve a population of students who desperately need us.
Chandre Sanchez Reyes
Indiana Connections Academy / Indiana Connections Career Academy