Monica Moreno is 15 years old and the oldest of six children in her family.
Like a good big sister, she often takes care of her brothers and sisters and wants to set a good example – especially when it comes to doing well in school. The soft-spoken yet determined teenager says she wants to be the first in her family to graduate from college.
Her mom didn’t finish high school. Her dad never went to college.
“Finishing school is something I want to do so I can show my siblings they can do it too,” Monica says.
After having a great middle school experience, Monica was excited for high school. She says she quickly realized high school was going to be very different – not because of the curriculum or assignments, but because of all the “peer pressure, drama and classroom distractions.”
“There were a lot of kids goofing off in class and the teachers were so focused on getting them to stop,” she recalls. “When I had homework, I didn’t know what to do because we never finished the lesson. The teachers were so busy trying to calm everyone down in class.”
Monica says she couldn’t concentrate and eventually her grades began to slip. Her parents considered other public high schools in the area, but Monica says those campuses were also experiencing academic problems.
She wanted an educational option in which she could focus on her studies, progress at own pace, receive one-on-one support, and learn from home so she could help take care of her five brothers and sisters.
California Connections Academy was the answer.
The nonclassroom-based public charter school offers students in grades TK-12 the flexibility to learn at home and “in the way that works best for them.” Credentialed teachers specially trained in online learning are able to personalize instruction so they can match the unique needs, interests, and abilities of their students.
Monica says she and her parents considered this new possibility for a few weeks before they made the switch during the middle of her freshman year. She’s now wrapping up her sophomore year at California Connections Academy and says it was the best decision she’s ever made.
“I didn’t have the best grades when I enrolled,” Monica says “Now, I’ve gotten on honor roll two times and I have straight A’s. I get to focus more because I can do things at my own pace. If I don’t understand something, I don’t have to skip to another topic like I did before … and if I need help, I can just call my teacher or counselor.”
Interest in charter public schools like California Connections Academy is on the rise as more families continue to look for more flexible schedules and options during the pandemic.
The NCB was highlighted in CCSA’s most recent report: Serving Diverse Student Needs in the Golden State: Practices and Programs of Nonclassroom-based Charter Schools.
The report’s author, CCSA Director of Data Analysis Jonathan Slakey, breaks down the kinds of programmatic offerings at NCBs such as distance learning, synchronous and asynchronous learning (hybrid), home schooling, independent study, internships, and career technical education pathways.
Slakey also identified eight practices of effective nonclassroom-based schools in California such as personalized learning, flexibility of instruction timing and style, and strong teacher and student relationships.
Hundreds of thousands of students like Monica are thriving in a more personalized learning environment.
She’s now on track to graduate early from California Connections Academy and wants to attend a community college to become a paramedic.
Seeking more inspiring stories like Monica's? Read Miracle's Story: "I'm Doing Something With My Life."
To learn more about California Connections Academy, check out their website.
This blog story was written by Ana Tintocalis, CCSA's Director of Media Relations and Research. She is a frequent contributor to the CharterNation Blog. Got a good charter school story? Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.