Virtual education meant to be personalized to the student and give parents more options

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF) – Virtual learning is a growing trend but virtual schools are set up differently than what many students experienced during remote learning during the in-person school closure.

The Tennessee Department of Education now has 57 virtual schools and Tennessee Connections Academy Executive Director Derek Sanborn said the virtual learning curriculum isn’t just the teacher zoom calling in.

“Not that they can do school whenever they want. They are able to work at their own pace and have their individualized instruction with teachers,” said Sanborn.

He said Tennessee Connections Academy allows students more flexibility in personalized education. He said tuition is free and teachers are still able to make connections with their students even though it is virtual.

“One of the things that we really believe in Strongly is kind of a triangle partnership with the teacher, the student, and the parent. Once you involve the family in their students learning I think those connections come naturally,” said Sanborn.

Connection Academy started long before the pandemic and has been operating for 20 years and in 30 states before coming to Tennessee back in 2019.

“When they originally started it was a lot smaller and probably more of a niche. Seven or eight years ago connection academy was purchased by Pearson and with the support of Pearson has really grown to what it is today meeting all the Tennessee standards is what we do,” said Sanborn.

Although the classes are at home and virtual, field trips are also part of the curriculum.

“The great thing that we have is, we have the entire state at our disposal because we have kids that are all over the state so we can have a field trip in Memphis and then the next week we can have a get-together in Johnson City,” said Sanborn.

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