• Arizona
  • Thursday , Feb 1 , 2018

Area Info

2 minutes reading time (447 words)

Arizona Autism Charter Schools Offers State's First Autism-Focused Online School

AZACS-Teacher-Online-with-Students-photo

Arizona Autism Charter Schools (AZACS) has acquired state approval to become Arizona's first and only tuition-free, online autism charter school focused on students on the spectrum and other special needs. Despite the trials and tribulations of the pandemic, AZACS' students excelled in virtual learning. As a result, some students and families requested virtual learning as their preferred method of education. AZACS Online Schools' expansion is also an opportunity to educate and serve additional children and families throughout Arizona, perhaps in smaller towns or rural areas, who may not be receiving a comprehensive, fully integrated kindergarten to 12th grade education.

Since opening its doors in 2014, AZACS has served the community as Arizona's first and only tuition-free autism charter school. It is the only school of its kind in the southwest region of the United States. Founder and Executive Director, Diana Diaz-Harrison, created AZACS to help her son, Sammy, and other bright, capable special needs students like him. Children with autism often have many special needs and AZACS seeks to provide essential services at their school to further enhance their success and well-being. AZACS is the only school mentioned in Governor Doug Ducey's 2021 Policy Book for its success with the online model for special populations.

To ensure and emulate the same, all-inclusive, premiere education as the in-person schools, AZACS Online Schools hired Arizona-based, educational leader Dana Van Deinse as its Senior Director of Partnerships and Online Learning. Van Deinse joins AZACS after most recently serving as Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships for Arizona State University's Prep Digital. She fully developed the online school and launched its online high school in 2017. Van Deinse, who has 21 years of educational experience, brings an illustrious career of leadership, excellence and innovation to AZACS Online Schools.

"We want Arizona families to know that Arizona Autism Charter School's K-8 Online School and Online High School now exist as an option. Many of our students have various appointments throughout the day, so if their family prefers they can now learn from home, while having the support of highly-qualified teachers, learning success coaches and case managers with a low student to teacher ratio," said Van Deinse.

"Students will participate in virtual morning meetings, online curriculum and online sessions with their teachers, speech therapists, and tutors. There will also be onsite opportunities for social events, field trips and STEM activities on campus or out in the community throughout the year. There will be a lot of flexibility and variety in how the students learn."

For those interested in learning more about the program, online parent information sessions are being held on Wednesdays: July 14, July 21 and July 28 4 P.M. Please visit http://www.online2122.autismcharter.org for details.
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