The 4K-12 full-time virtual school reflects on the major milestone and looks forward to continuing to grow and empower students all across Wisconsin
This school year, Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA), one of the state’s first full-time, tuition-free virtual public charter schools, is celebrating serving students in grades 4K-12 in the Badger State for 20 years. Wisconsin Connections Academy opened in 2002 and has been helping students ignite their passions and find a path to success ever since.
Four original staff members, including Wisconsin Connections Academy principal Michelle Mueller, have been with the school since its inception. Starting as a middle school math teacher, Mueller has been with the school every step of the way, saying, “It’s hard to believe that Wisconsin Connections Academy is celebrating 20 years, but I couldn’t be prouder of how the school and its students have evolved along the way.”
When Wisconsin Connections Academy first opened, it was based around a homeschool curriculum, there weren’t any live classes, parents and students would check in with teachers over the phone, and it was only open for grades K-8. Now, as an entirely virtual school, it serves students in grades 4K-12. Through the years, Wisconsin Connections Academy has produced countless students who have excelled at the school and beyond.
Naleah Boys, senior at Wisconsin Connections Academy, has been at the school since 2nd grade and recently scored a perfect 36 on her ACT. Her mother, Rebecca Boys, said, “We are beyond blessed and could not be more pleased with deciding on Wisconsin Connections Academy for Naleah’s education. She loves to learn, and Wisconsin Connections Academy has been phenomenal to encourage her and teach at her speed and coursework. For example, when she ran out of the next science course, they helped find and allowed her to attend her AP Physics class via another online platform that has been amazing and so enjoyable for her. Wisconsin Connections Academy truly wants their students to achieve their dreams!”
Wisconsin Connections Academy provides a personalized education that is supported by teachers who are specially trained in online learning. The curriculum is designed to have real-world value by focusing on social-emotional learning to help prepare each student for wherever life takes them. As a public school, the school requires students to meet the same state standards as their traditional school counterparts.
Wisconsin Connections Academy, like many other virtual schools, saw an increase in enrollment during the pandemic. Cally Ehle, from Stoughton, enrolled her two daughters during the pandemic and plans to keep them in virtual schooling post-pandemic, saying, “I couldn’t be happier with our decision to switch to Wisconsin Connections Academy. My older daughter actually came up to me one day, and she said, ‘Mom, I love this school, I don’t feel stupid anymore.”
Virtual school is a great fit for a variety of students and each student is unique. Those who attend Wisconsin Connections Academy come from different backgrounds and choose full-time online school for various reasons. Some students prefer to take ownership of their education and benefit from the flexibility that virtual school offers, while others are looking for a safe learning environment.
“First of all, I would like to say ‘thank you’ to all the parents, students and staff over these 20 years; we wouldn’t be celebrating this major milestone if it weren’t for them,” said Mueller. “Wisconsin Connections Academy never settles. We are always looking for ways to improve and meet our students where they are. I look forward to continuing our mission to grow passionate teachers, empower students and build a stronger community for 20 more years and beyond.”
For more information, visit connectionsacademy.com/wisconsin-virtual-school.
The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.