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California Virtual Academy (CAVA) at San Mateo named a 2015 Honor Roll school

CAVA at San Mateo was just awarded the “Star Schools” award by the Educational Results Partnership (ERP) and the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE). This honor is given to schools in economically-disadvantaged districts that have sustained remarkable gains in proficiency and academic outcomes, while sharply narrowing achievement gaps among students. It’s a big honor and all of CAVA is excited and proud of the San Mateo school.

“When we close achievement gaps, we set our children on a path of productivity that not only leads to success in the classroom, but also prepares them to contribute to and benefit from a more productive economy,” said Bernie Vidales, Superintendent of Jefferson Elementary School District, which authorizes the charter school.

“It is a great accomplishment and a testament to the commitment of the school’s teachers and staff to student achievement and continuous improvement,” Mr. Vidales said.

The CBEE Honor Roll was established in 2005 and is the only program in California that draws solely from student achievement outcomes using data and analytics to base its criteria for recognition.

The program has accumulated the nation’s largest database on student achievement at the state, college, district and school levels, which is available to the public at no cost.

“Making the Honor Roll is a credit to our entire school community of teachers, counselors, administrators, and parents who are dedicated to educating children and doing what is right,” said Don Burbulys, President of the charter school’s non-profit Board of Directors.

Jim Lanich, ERP President and CEO, notes that the Honor Roll underscores the fact that, contrary to popular belief, many schools are succeeding. “Students are achieving at higher levels than anyone admits and more students than ever are succeeding when given the opportunity,” he said.

“All schools, no matter what zip code they are in, can achieve this kind of success,” Mr. Lanich added.

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CAVA is the perfect fit for my daughter (Video)

When one of her daughters was having a tough time in a traditional brick-and-mortar school, she found a better solution with online charter schools. Jennifer talks about why she chose California Virtual Academies (CAVA) for her children and why it is the perfect fit for them.

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My son was crying every single day… He was being bullied and picked on

Miriam Snyder’s daughter wants to be an animal trainer when she grows up and her son aspires to become an aviator. The California Virtual Academies (CAVA) is putting both of her junior high school kids on track to achieve their career goals and rise to their fullest potential.

Before CAVA, her son and daughter weren’t able to dream about their futures because they couldn’t see past the rampant bullying and teacher hostility they experienced at their brick-and-mortar schools, Miriam said.

They were being bullied and picked on.

“My son was crying every single day when he came home from school. He was being bullied and picked on. He was miserable,” Miriam said. “He was spending all day long in the counseling office in middle school.”

Her daughter, currently in seventh grade and autistic, didn’t fare much better. “She was crying and working really, really hard. But, the teacher berated her by saying she was not trying hard enough.”

Miriam said she’d had enough. When her family moved to California from Arizona nearly four years ago, she decided to explore alternative learning environments for her two kids, including scholarships for private schools. After extensive research, she discovered CAVA and was impressed by the staff and the services that were offered. She left her oldest daughter in her traditional school where she thrived.

She had the choice to decide on CAVA.

Miriam said it was critical that she had the choice to decide which learning environment best suited her three children. Her family’s situation underscores why there shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to education.

“It was really important as a parent that I had that choice because my kids are all unique. We’ve come to rely on CAVA and the one-on-one attention that my kids can get,” with the K12 curriculum, she said.

Her daughter is now at grade-level in math and her son, in eighth grade, has more confidence. “No one knows your child as well as you do,” Miriam said.

Miriam shutters to think if CAVA ceased to exist.

“I fear that if my son were to be put back into a traditional school, he would be picked on again. CAVA has given him some tools to handle bullying and he has made some really good friends,” she said.

CAVA is already providing her daughter with a valuable opportunity in her pursuit of becoming a dog trainer: she is currently in talks with her parents about adopting and raising a guide dog puppy.

“We can do that now, because we’re at home. At a traditional public school, they don’t necessarily want a puppy,” Miriam said.

Miriam, passionate about ensuring academic success and a safe space for her kids, made an informed choice with CAVA.

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I kept looking at my wife getting sicker and sicker… we decided to enroll my daughter at CAVA.

When cancer left Arturo Garcia’s wife incapacitated and unable to take their daughter to the local elementary school, he knew they needed to find an alternative to the bricks and mortar system. One of the California Virtual Academies (CAVA) was their solution.

I kept looking at my wife getting sicker and sicker as her tumor was growing,” Arturo said. He noted his grueling work schedule also made it difficult for him to pick K up from school. In addition to their long list of hardships, their fourth grader also struggled in her studies because of a severe learning disability.

“That’s when we decided to enroll her in CAVA,” Arturo said, adding that the virtual academy and K12’s ground-breaking curriculum transformed K’s academic performance and boosted her confidence.

“CAVA greatly benefits my family because I get to go to work and provide for my family,” Arturo said. He expressed immense gratitude for having the opportunity to provide both a quality education while still maintaining a career that would financially support his family. Having the ability to make such an important and rewarding choice for his daughter’s education is imperative and he believes every parent has the right to decide what is best for their children, especially when dealing with special circumstances.

“It’s our choice. As a parent we decide what is best for our kids,” Arturo said. He believes that critics of online education don’t have the same first-hand insight as a parent and can’t pass judgment until they walk in their shoes. “We love CAVA and if they take it away, they are taking our choice away,” he said.

CAVA has been such a success with K that Arturo’s middle daughter and aspiring doctor, will enroll in CAVA as a sophomore next year.

In addition to the poor learning environment and overcrowded classrooms at traditional public schools, Arturo was concerned for his daughters’ safety, worrying that they would be subjected to bullying, just as he had, in junior high.

“I am worried about bullying because they don’t do anything about it,” Arturo said of school administrators. “I even talked to the principal about what the school was doing to combat bullying. There was no response.”

The individualized attention that K receives from CAVA educators, as well as the strong support system she has at home from her mom and oldest sister Merylin, has contributed to K’s success. Merylin is responsible for spearheading the initial research into CAVA programming after seeing her little sister fall behind in the traditional school system.

“When my mom got cancer, it pushed us to make the decision,” Merylin said. “We did a lot of research on K12 and were encouraged by the positive influence it had on other students. We thought it could help my sister,” Merylin said.

“CAVA has helped K a lot. We saw drastic changes in her grades,” Merylin said.

She said if CAVA was no longer a resource, her family would be “stressed and devastated.”

The Garcia family made an informed choice for K’s special educational needs. The best choice for their family is CAVA.

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Van Den Eykel Family

Van Den Eykel Family: The Power of Choice

California Virtual Academies is returning to parents, like Christine Van Den Eykel, something they’ve lost long ago in the traditional public school system: the power of choice.

Christine credits CAVA and the K12 curriculum with providing her a pivotal role, stronger voice and better options in educating her three sons “D”, “N” and “M”. As a former teacher, Christine said she knew firsthand how the curriculum and teaching styles at bricks and mortar schools underserved her kids. She was also discouraged that her young brood wasn’t being taught the values that she and her husband instilled in them at home.

“I was a teacher and trained in what to look for in a school system. I knew I needed to look into something else,” said Christine.

A fellow parent at the taekwondo class her children attended, recommended that Christine look into CAVA. Impressed by the organization, technology and rigor of the K12 curriculum, Christine enrolled her oldest son “D” into CAVA when he was in fifth grade.

“I got excited about the K12 curriculum…it’s such a rich curriculum. I had training in junior grade books and I saw the same materials were given to my son,” said Christine, adding that her role as a learning coach empowered her to make better decisions for her son’s education. “The best part of being a learning coach is that I can determine what my child needs.  I feel a lot more confident in my choices.”

Before CAVA, “D” was disorganized and unfocused. And, despite being on a special track for gifted students, his grades didn’t reflect his academic talents. “I couldn’t get organized properly and learning to be organized is one of the great things about CAVA. They give you all the tools that you need,” said “D”, who is currently in 11th grade, a straight-A student and plans to study engineering in college. He added that easy access to his teachers via email and phone was instrumental to his success.

“The teacher connection with students during the online session is probably more prominent than many people might expect,” said “D”. “They can post online blackboard sessions so that I can review a session with them and they can help me learn the lesson.”

Christine was so pleased by “D”’s progress, she enrolled his younger brothers “N” and “M”, who are currently in 7th and 4th grades respectively.

The Van Den Ekyle’s said CAVA not only set the kids on a more prosperous path educationally, it also strengthened their family bond. “As brothers, we are much closer at CAVA,” said “D”.

Initially, Christine was nervous about her ability to help educate all of her sons at home, while maintaining discipline.

“I actually found that we got much closer as a family and some of the disciplinary problems that we had went away,” she said. “Some of the kids were seeking attention before, now they get more and are happier.”

CAVA gives concerned parents like Christine a powerful voice and choice.

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No one is going to tell me what is best for my daughter

Patricia Herrarte turned to one of the California Virtual Academies (CAVA) when her daughter, “S”, needed a safe space to learn after being bullied at her bricks and mortar middle school.

“There were times when we were called into the school because a child threw food at her face. She was verbally and physically abused and that caused a lot of pain for her,” Patricia said. “It was important for me to put my daughter in a safe place, which is CAVA.”

At her wits’ end on how “S” was being treated at her traditional school and dismayed by her failing grades in writing and math, Patricia took the advice of friends whose kids were flourishing at CAVA and enrolled S into the virtual academy. That decision changed her daughter’s life. S’s self-esteem improved as she turned failing grades into consistently high marks and forged positive friendships.

“CAVA is the greatest thing we found for her,” Patricia said. “The local school was a horrible experience because they never put my daughter first. Never!”

Patricia believes that what critics of online education systems don’t understand is that parents are seeing their kids being neglected, abused and disengaged at their brick-and-mortar schools every day. They should have the right to choose the best and safest environment for their kids, she said.

“No one is going to tell me what’s best for S,” she said. “Having a child that is constantly bullied at school is the worst thing you can experience as a parent. And I want (the critics) to know that.”

Patricia says the CAVA’s curriculum provided by K12, allows S to receive the one-on-one attention that she needs from caring, passionate and engaged educators. She likes the fact that CAVA teachers are always available to answer her questions. As an added benefit, Patricia is fully-equipped and prepared to help “S” with her homework, as her learning coach.

“I don’t think the teachers even (cared) if my daughter did her homework or not,” Patricia noted regarding her daughter’s former brick-and-mortar school.

She said that “S” will not return to a traditional school system and that if the virtual academy was suddenly not available as a resource, “S’s” academic future would be imperiled.

“Not knowing what she’s going through at the local school just terrifies me,” Patricia said.

Patricia is a dedicated parent who knows what’s best for her daughter’s education and that choice is CAVA.

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