K12 Inc.'s picture

Why the Head of School and Principal at ISOR Have Pink Beards


The Head of School and Principal at The Insight School of Oregon (ISOR-ALT and ISOR-PH) really go the extra mile to support their 600 students! During their two-week winter break, ISOR attempted a new program to help students raise their grades. In a show of solidarity, Head of School, J.D. McMahan, and Principal, Jim Sinnott, promised to dye their beards pink if enough students participated in the program! The result was an incredible 37% of the student body raising their grades a full letter, leading to sparkly pink beards for Mr. McMahan and Mr. Sinnott!

“I am so proud of our Insight kids. We need our students to know that they are not alone over the school breaks. We are still there for them and rooting for their success. I am so impressed by their willingness to raise their grades, especially over a break!” Said Amanda Sinnott, who is part of the ISOR’s Family Academic Support Team, when asked about the success of the Insight School of Oregon’s students.

Building off of their success on winter break, the school tried the same program again for spring break, which is one week long. The result was 28% of students raised their grade by a full letter- - in half the time it took during winter break! This time, as their reward, students had the opportunity to participate in the “onesie unicorn 2.0 dance extravaganza!” This cool social event took place in a class connect session where students were entered into raffles to win onesies, t-shirts, and other prizes.

Ashley Fryer's picture

Praise & Appreciation

Earlier this month, the Nation marked Teacher Appreciation Week.  This special week every year couldn’t come at a more perfect time- the final month of the school year when we’re wrapping things up, starting to grow a little weary, and when the students’ excitement about summer break is starting to become noticeable!

In fact, during this week, I began inwardly questioning whether students were enjoying my classes anymore- - when all-of-a-sudden I received a “day-changing” email. Our amazing middle school advisor worked alongside students to produce a touching video for teachers. With her help, students posted some of the things they appreciated about a specific teacher on the whiteboard during homeroom to later be shared. Our advisor put together a video with each teacher’s slide.  After watching this heartfelt video, I was moved to tears. 

Throughout the week, there were other great emails, videos, and even prizes from various teams in our organization.  It all meant so much and I really appreciate not only the thoughts behind this touching tribute, but the time taken during busy schedules just to let me know students care and notice my hard work. Then it occurred to me… Am I doing that enough with my students? Receiving praise all week made me wonder if I was giving enough myself. The answer was probably not. I, like the students, was ready for a break.  I felt like I was saying “good job”, but nothing deeper. 

Jeff Kwitowski's picture

State Testing & Online Schools: What You Probably Never Knew – Part II

It’s always an away game for online school students


In my previous piece, I detailed many of the testing problems states have faced this year.  Since then, things have only gotten worse.  Controversy erupted in Texas as issues with testing continued to mount causing educators to express a total loss of faith in the STAAR standardized testing system.  Tennessee’s much-hyped TNReady test was scrapped outright after the emergency switch from the online to paper-based test was botched so badly that the State Department of Education was forced to cancel Part II of testing. 

[Quick digression:  Perhaps these numerous problems and increased aversion to state testing from parents and teachers are part of what is fueling new debate around standardized tests and accountability, even among education reformers. Has the pendulum of test-based accountability and, in the words of Paul Peterson, the “regulatory approach to school reform,” swung too far?]

I noted how state testing delays, last-minute changes, cancellations, and other difficulties negatively impact all schools but have a much greater impact on online schools. I speculated that many, if not most, people have no idea the massive amount of time, resources, planning, logistics, and manpower it takes for online schools to fulfill state-mandated testing requirements, which is unlike anything traditional schools or district face.

I am now absolutely convinced that is the case.

Rebecca Malmquist's picture

Teacher Appreciation Week: Why Cancer Didn't Stop Me From Teaching At Georgia Cyber Academy



When I was diagnosed with cancer this past February, one of the first things I decided was that I wanted tocontinue my life as usual. I wanted to help my 8th graders at Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) continue through to the end of the year, and if that meant having a few bad days here and there, I’d be all right with that. In a brick and mortar school, I would’ve had to take off for the rest of the year to focus on this personal battle that forever changed my life. However, thanks to K12’s flexible format, that hasn’t been the case. I’ve even been able to bring my laptop to my chemotherapy appointments! Virtual teaching has allowed me to keep my life as normal as possible, even in this extremely abnormal time in my life.

For years I wanted to be a virtual teacher. Like most K12 teachers, I used to teach at brick and mortar schools. When my daughter was born, I worked part time at a homeschool hybrid and loved the flexibility. When one of the parents mentioned K12, I applied. Now, I’m in my second year, and I have to say that this is the best place that I have ever taught. I have really found my niche in education.

I teach language arts in the Advanced Learning Program (ALP) and have received an incredible amount of support with regard to my battle with cancer. When I shared my diagnosis with my students, it was humbling to receive so many kind words of encouragement- - one of my students even sent me a card and a gift in the snail mail!

K12 Inc.'s picture

LearnBop for Families Launch: Online Math Tutoring Direct to Consumers

“My mission is to help as many kids as possible master mathematics,” says Bharanidharan Rajakumar, LearnBop’s visionary CEO who founded the K12-acquired math curriculum learning software firm in 2014. “We developed a technology that will ensure kids are set up for success in the future so they don’t get left behind.”

As LearnBop for Families launches this week, enabling a new consumer audience to benefit from the revolutionary software, Bharani reflects on his journey to this exciting phase of his career as a digital learning entrepreneur.

“I thought it was pretty profound that potentially you have kids that are taking an entire year to learn a subject they could potentially learn in six months if they had more interaction with a teacher. This was the genesis of LearnBop.”

Regarding the 2014 K12 acquisition, Bharani says what drew him to join forces with K12 was the company’s history as a pioneer in distance learning.

“Since then, LearnBop has shown to be highly-effective in schools. Our clients have been really pleased with the outcomes they have achieved —so there was no reason we couldn’t bring this tool into homes to help more students.”