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    New Help For Homeschoolers

    Street in San Bernardino. At the learning center, home-schooled students will have an opportunity to take enrichment classes, but most of their education will be handled by parents with help from credentialed teachers who will travel to students’ homes. Photo by Chris Sloan

    Ramona Bywater, Carden Virtual Academy home school coordinator, invites families to begin a new school year with Carden Virtual Academy on Sept. 7. Photo by Chris Sloan

    (SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) Parents from throughout Southern California are discovering a new opportunity to combine home schooling with the resources of public education through Carden Virtual Academy, a charter school opening Sept. 7 in San Bernardino.

    “Carden Virtual Academy offers individualized education for every student, “ said Ramona Bywater, home schooling coordinator. “We focus on strengths and interests.”

    Bywater is herself a home schooling mom, who started four years ago. Bywater also has experience as a teacher, having taught English as Second Language for the Corona-Norco Unified School District’s adult education program, and with online education as a writing consultant with Ashford University.
    She recalls planning 14 field trips for her children a few years ago, and searching diligently for clubs they could join.

    Now, as the home school coordinator for Carden Virtual Academy, her job will include planning field trips and organizing other educational programs for Carden homeschoolers.
    “We are providing enrichment opportunities, and opportunities for these children to socialize with their peers,” she said.

    Bywater is also developing “Learning Center” classes, in which the students come to Carden and learn in a group setting topics that will supplement their home school curriculum.

    Carden Virtual Academy offers a core curriculum for all students, overseen by California credentialed teachers. Teachers and parents, working together, add to that curriculum individualized instruction to best meet their students’ needs.

    “Our highly qualified, certified teachers work with parents as educational partners to design a personalized learning plan,” said Tim Smith, president of Learning Matters Educational Group, the parent company of Carden Virtual Academy. “We strive to help students develop the character, confidence and skills needed for success in the 21st Century.”

    Carden Virtual Academy’s curriculum begins with the state and national educational standards. These put in writing what students are expected to know in any given grade or subject.

    Add to that a strong character education program encouraging citizenship, character, responsibility and school and community pride.

    Bywater’s job also includes recruiting families to join with Carden Virtual Academy in the education of their children. Once a family joins Carden Virtual Academy, she works with the parents to fine-tune each child’s educational program so that it is interesting and relevant for them.

    Bywater will also oversee Carden Virtual Academy’s staff of credentialed teachers, who during the school year will meet every 20 days with families enrolled in the home schooling program. In most cases, Carden Virtual Academy will send the teachers to their students’ homes, where they will monitor student progress and administer testing.

    Charter schools in California accept students from their own county and any adjacent county. This means Carden Virtual Academy accepts students from San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, Kern and Inyo counties.

    Even though these counties cover an area of more than 50,000 square miles (more territory than that of 19 entire states) educating students from anywhere within them is possible through online education.
    Students are already enrolling from as far away as the Victor Valley, the Menifee/Hemet areas in south Riverside County and the Laverne/Claremont areas of Los Angeles County, Bywater noted.

    “One student who lives near Hemet has a one-and-a-half hour bus ride to attend her nearest public school, and by enrolling in Carden Virtual Academy, she will avoid that,” Bywater said. “There are many reasons why parents home school. Some have medical problems. Others are performing below grade level and their parents see this as a way to help them. Whatever the reason, Carden Virtual Academy offers options for them.”

    Carden Virtual Academy opens Sept 24, 2010, and will offer both in-class and online instruction for grades K-12. It is an option for families who wish to be directly involved in their children’s education, for teens who seek an accelerated schedule to begin college early, and for teens needing to catch up on credits to graduate with their classmates.

    For more information, call Ramona Bywater at (909) 256-0449 or 1-800-GET-CARDEN, or email her at rbywater@cardenvirtualacademy.com To register online or learn more, go to www.CardenVirtualAcademy.com

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