Connections Academy School Leader, Amanda Ebel, Honored with Prestigious United States Distance Learning Association Award

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Seasoned Educator Receives “Outstanding Leadership by and Individual in the Field of Distance Learning” Award at the 2016 USDLA Conference

2016 USDLA Leadership Award Presented to Amanda Ebel, M.Ed., Executive Director, South Carolina Connections Academy

Dr. John G. Flores, USDLA Board Member & Managing Director, presents 2016 USDLA Leadership Award to Amanda Ebel, M.Ed., Executive Director, SCCA

Under Amanda’s leadership the virtual school community has grown and expanded, students have increased their academic achievements, and SCCA has gained greater recognition in the South Carolina Public Charter School district and across the state.

Amanda Ebel, M.Ed., Executive Director of South Carolina Connections Academy (SCCA), received the prestigious United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) International Distance Learning Award for “Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the Field of Distance Learning.” Ebel received this year’s award at the 2016 USDLA conference and awards banquet in St. Louis, Missouri.

Ebel was honored for her sharp focus on the school’s mission; ensuring that her team of eleven administrators and 120 teachers and staff uphold the privilege and responsibility to serve students and their families. One of her first goals as executive director was to lead the staff, in conjunction with the School Improvement Council (SIC), through a process of re-writing the school’s mission statement; aligning it with the collective goals for the school.

The school’s mission: “Our teachers and administrators are dedicated to fulfilling our mission: to provide a personalized education for students to master the knowledge and problem solving skills needed to achieve their college and career goals.”

In the 2014-2015 school year, SCCA students exceeded state proficiency rates in Math for grades 6 and 8, and met or exceeded state proficiency rates in English Language Arts and English I for grades 4 through 8, based on state and national testing data. Ebel also led the staff’s transition to a virtual workforce. Most teachers now work from home – limiting administrative costs, maximizing hiring dollars, enabling the school to hire quality teachers from all parts of the state, and increasing opportunities for student and teacher face-to-face interactions at events such as field trips and state testing.

The USDLA’s International Distance Learning Awards are presented annually to individuals and organizations engaged in the development and delivery of distance learning programs. The Awards recognize major accomplishments in distance learning and highlight those distance learning instructors, programs, and professionals who have achieved and demonstrated extraordinary results through the use of online, videoconferencing, satellite and blended learning delivery technologies.

“During her six years at South Carolina Connections Academy, Amanda has driven the school, staff and students to greater achievement,” commented Connections Education President and Co-Founder Dr. Steven Guttentag. “Under Amanda’s leadership the virtual school community has grown and expanded, students have increased their academic achievements, and SCCA has gained greater recognition in the South Carolina Public Charter School district and across the state.”

In addition to Ebel’s honor for her work in South Carolina, International Connections Academy (iNaCA), an accredited virtual private school serving students in grades K-12 worldwide presented two breakout sessions at the USDLA conference; one focused on the “global classroom” and another highlighting “K-20” partnerships between K-12 schools and colleges. Presenters included: Hannah Rinehart, Director, International Connections Academy, Katie Mussachio, Assistant Principal, International Connections Academy, Rick Ferrell, Senior Manager of Counseling, International Connections Academy, Sarah Chiang, 2015 iNaCA Valedictorian and student at Washington University, and Yocencia Deal, Association VP of Graduate and International Admissions, American Public University (APU).            

About Connections Education
Connections Education is a leading provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual education solutions for students in grades K–12. The company’s Connections Academy delivers individualized learning to students through tuition-free virtual public schools. In the 2015–2016 school year, Connections Academy supports 30 virtual public schools in 26 states—serving ~65,000 students. Connections Education offers a fully online private school for students worldwide and delivers blended (combination of online and on-site) learning in seven schools via tuition-free, public, Nexus Academy schools. The Connections Learning by Pearson division meets the needs of schools, school districts, and other institutions with a full range of digital learning solutions for grades K–12 including: online courses, a program for homebound students, a digital learning platform, and private and public online schools. Connections Education is based in Baltimore, Maryland and was named a 2015, 2014 and 2013 “Top Workplace” by the Baltimore Sun and a 2013 “Best Place to Work” by Baltimore magazine. Connections Education is part of the global learning company Pearson.

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LaWanda Stone
Connections Education
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