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Stem Night: Preparing CAVA Students for the Future

California Virtual Academies recently held its inaugural STEM fair on St. Patrick’s Day 2016 in Fountain Valley.

Students gathered at Beachpoint Church excited to work on fun and innovative projects where they were taught to apply concepts of science, technology, engineering and math, commonly known as STEM. CAVA, using the curriculum powered by K12, sees great importance in exposing their students to these concepts early in their educational career.

Tara Gayler, a CAVA teacher and coordinator of the fair, said the goal of the fair is to provide students with a head start and a leg up when attempting to successfully enter the rapidly expanding field of STEM-related jobs globally. She added that she wanted to make the projects fun, challenging and something the students and parents can easily replicate at home.

“Science can be intimidating to parents,” said Ms. Gayler.

So, to make the projects accessible, Ms. Gayler purposefully designed them with household items that could be purchased at the Dollar Store. “What I learned, I can incorporate into my classroom,” she said.

Students channeled their inner scientist and mathematician at eight stations positioned throughout the church where they solved a Tangram puzzle, tested a trampoline made out of rubber bands and a colander and built their own balloon tower.

For parents like Desiree Rojas, the STEM fair proved to be a valuable resource and a great way to spend the day, as the fair helped to cultivate the interest her son Mitchell, a CAVA second-grader, naturally has in math and science. “We do science at home and we do the experiments on our daily schedule,” Ms. Rojas said referring to the K12 curriculum. “This (STEM fair) is nice because this is more hands on and he gets to be with other kids.”

Gina Garland, a site coordinator for CAVA’s Community Day, said the STEM fair is important for preparing CAVA students for the jobs of the future.

“We need to be giving these students opportunities to work in STEM…. because these are the types of jobs that are going to be out there,” she said. “Getting them to think critically about STEM is really important.”

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High School Hang Out at Mission Trails Regional Park (Gallery)
High School Hang Out at Mission Trails Regional Park (Gallery)
High School Hang Out at Mission Trails Regional Park (Gallery)
High School Hang Out at Mission Trails Regional Park (Gallery)
High School Hang Out at Mission Trails Regional Park (Gallery)
High School Hang Out at Mission Trails Regional Park (Gallery)
High School Hang Out at Mission Trails Regional Park (Gallery)
High School Hang Out at Mission Trails Regional Park (Gallery)
High School Hang Out at Mission Trails Regional Park (Gallery)

High School Hang Out at Mission Trails Regional Park (Gallery)

On Wednesday, March 16, CAVA High School Students had the opportunity to explore and learn about the wonders of nature and the people who once lived on this land at a High School Hang Out at Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego.  Mission Trails Regional Park encompasses 7,220 acres of both natural and developed recreational areas. Its rugged hills, valleys and open areas represent a San Diego prior to the landing of Cabrillo in San Diego Bay in 1542.

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Community Day brings Students, Teachers, and Parents Together

For many students enrolled at California Virtual Academies, Community Day provides a great opportunity to make lasting friendships, bond with their teachers and socially engage with one another during stimulating field-trips, programs, symposiums and in-person academic instruction on the K12 curriculum by their dedicated teachers.

Community Day is a hybrid program designed by CAVA to foster academic collaboration and socialization among students, as well as parents, who serve as “learning coaches” to their kids. The Community Day program mimics the “traditionally valued” benefits of a bricks and mortar school, allowing students to regularly engage with in-person play and academic involvement with their peers, while still providing them with the daily, safe, virtual, K12 programing that they’ve come to know and grow with. The program is usually held at a community center or church once or twice a week for a few hours where students receive tutorials in K12’s curriculum including subjects like math, language, and the arts.

On Community Day, students are meeting face-to-face with their everyday virtual teachers and are accustomed to their teaching methodology and programming, says Gina Garland, a site coordinator for Community Day in Fountain Valley.  “So the students are very engaged.”

Ms. Garland runs the Community Day program at Beachpoint Church every Tuesday and plans popular activities such as talent shows, science fairs and spelling bees. One favorite activity of the students was when CAVA hired a company to explore oceans at Newport Beach.

In the following interview, Gina discusses the important role that Community Day plays in the positive social development of CAVA students:

Q: Why is Community Day important?

A: We know that as human beings we need relationships. At Community Day, the student actually gets to know their teacher and the teacher gets to know their student, face-to-face, to build that relationship. It gives students an opportunity….to play with other kids their age and to see who else is in CAVA. One of the neat things is that Community Day also gives the learning coaches an opportunity to collaborate with each other.

Q: Do the students form great friendships at Community Day?

A: Oh Yes. They don’t want to leave. We also have a parent/teacher organization…and they also plan excursions that a lot of families like to attend.

Q: How has your past experience as an educator helped you coordinate Community Day activities?

A: I taught math and science for seven years at a bricks and mortar school. I draw from that experience a lot, especially when we have discussions with the learning coaches. One of the things parents always ask is “how do we motivate our kids?” I give them tricks that we learned as teachers at bricks and mortar schools like time-outs. These parents don’t know that kind of stuff.

Q: What feedback do you receive from the students and parents who participate in Community Day?

A: They know and see that we care. They know that we’re there to support them. There’s a positive atmosphere that we’re able to create here.

Q: What would the outside observer take away from spending time with you and your students at Community Day?

A: They would think how cool it is that kids get to work in groups together…and how they’re able to put their minds together to work on projects. I think they would think it’s cool that we get to highlight achievement and give students opportunities to excel.

Field Trips and Social Outings at CAVA (Video)

Teachers and parents discuss community days, field trips, and other social connections for students enrolled at California Virtual Academies.

U.S. Senate Votes Unanimously to Pass Resolution Recognizing Jan. 24-30, 2016 as “National School Choice Week”

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The United States Senate tonight voted unanimously to recognize the week of January 24-30, 2016 as “National School Choice Week.”

This is the second year in a row that the U.S. Senate has recognized National School Choice Week, which is the largest annual celebration of opportunity in K-12 education.

The primary sponsor of the resolution was U.S. Senator Tim Scott. Cosponsors included U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Cornyn (R-TX), David Vitter (R-LA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Roger Wicker (R-MS), David Perdue (R-GA), James Lankford (R-OK), and Mike Crapo (R-ID).

The resolution calls on all Americans to celebrate education options for children and families.

Held from January 24-30, National School Choice Week 2016 features 16,140 events across the country, including rallies and events at 20 state capitol buildings. Thirty-three U.S. governors, along with more than 240 mayors and county leaders have issued official proclamations commemorating National School Choice Week in 2016. State legislatures in Alaska, Delaware, South Carolina, and Michigan have also passed resolutions recognizing the Week.

“We are honored that the United States Senate has once again designated the last week in January as National School Choice Week,” said Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. “We are very grateful for Senator Tim Scott’s leadership and persistence in authoring this resolution and in helping raise awareness — in a bipartisan way — about the many important education options that parents have, or want to be able to have, for their children’s education, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.”

For more information about National School Choice Week, visit www.schoolchoiceweek.com.

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1,511 Events in California to Raise Awareness About School Choice

SACRAMENTO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–National School Choice Week begins today in California and across the country. There are 1,511 events planned in the Golden State to raise awareness about K-12 school choice, and 16,140 events nationwide.

The events in California, which are independently planned and independently funded, include everything from information sessions and open houses at schools to rallies, policy discussions, and movie screenings organized by community groups. On Monday, January 25, hundreds of supporters will rally for school choice at the capitol.

The mayors of Costa Mesa, El Cajon, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Hesperia, Indio, Laguna Niguel, Manteca, Milpitas, Mission Viejo, Moreno Valley, Oceanside, Redondo Beach, Roseville, Sacramento, San Ramon, Santa Clara, Santa Rosa, Temecula, Thousand Oaks, Tracy, Upland, Vacaville, Vallejo, and Victorville, along with county leaders from Amador, Los Angeles, Modoc, Placer, Rockland, Sacramento, Sonoma, and Stanislaus counties have issued official proclamations recognizing January 24-30, 2016 as “School Choice Week.”

“California parents have a variety of K-12 educational choices for their children,” said Andrew R. Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. “National School Choice Week will shine a positive spotlight on these options so that more parents can learn about the opportunities available to their kids, while also giving Californians a platform to raise awareness of the need for even greater education options for children.”

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School Choice Week Kicks Off in California with a Rally at the Capitol Steps

SACRAMENTO – Supporters of school choice – including students, parents, teachers, and community leaders – will Celebrate School Choice Week in California by gathering at the capital on Monday, January 25.

At 10 a.m. on the west steps of the California State Capitol, hundreds of school choice supporters will share their stories about how school choice can make a difference in a student’s life. Families representing traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, homeschooling organizations, and virtual schools will gather together in unified support for educational opportunity.

The celebration is timed to coincide with National School Choice Week (January 24-30, 2016), which will be America’s largest-ever celebration of opportunity in education, with more than 16,000 events being planned.

“This week is an opportunity for parents, students, educators, and advocates to come together in support of educational opportunity for all our children,” said Shirley Ford of Parent Revolution. “We are thrilled to be a part of telling the stories of students for whom choice has made a big difference.”

“We look forward to celebrating the difference that school choice is making in California students’ lives during National School Choice Week,” said Dr. Barbara Duncan, assistant superintendent of Charter Development for Pathways in Education. “Whether a parent chooses a traditional public school, public charter school, magnet school, private school, online academy, or home education, we are convinced that students thrive when they have educational opportunity.”

The celebration is being planned by a diverse group of national and state-based organizations, including Pathways in Education, Foundation for Excellence in Education, Parent Revolution, Reason Foundation, Pacific Research Institute, Students First, California Charter Association, California Teachers Empowerment Network, Crystal Stairs Inc., Parents Advocate League, Options for Youth, Opportunities for Learning, and Stand Up for Great Schools.

Held every January, National School Choice Week is an independent public awareness effort designed to shine a positive spotlight on effective education options for every child. Through thousands of independently planned events across the country, National School Choice Week raises public awareness of all types of educational choices available to children. These options include traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, online learning, private schools, and homeschooling.

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California Gets Ready to Celebrate National School Choice Week, January 24-30, 2016

California residents are getting ready to participate in the nation’s largest-ever celebration of opportunity in education, which begins in just weeks.

Californians are planning 1445 events to commemorate National School Choice Week, which runs from January 24 – 30, 2016. Nationwide, the Week will feature an unprecedented 15,500 events, planned by schools, organizations, homeschooling groups, chambers of commerce, and community leaders.

The events — which include open houses at schools, rallies, community celebrations, roundtable discussions, house parties, and more — are designed to raise awareness of the K-12 education options available to families. Nationwide, these options include traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, online academies, private schools, and homeschooling.

“California parents have a variety of K-12 educational choices for their children,” said Andrew R. Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. “National School Choice Week will shine a positive spotlight on these options so that more parents can learn about the opportunities available to their kids.”

For more information about National School Choice Week celebrations in the Golden State, or to discover the education options available to California families, visit www.schoolchoiceweek.com/parents.

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