Valley teacher rediscovers passion for education through online instruction

Jul 26, 2021, 4:45 AM

(Pexels photo)...

(Pexels photo)

(Pexels photo)

PHOENIX – Online learning may not be for everyone, but it definitely is for Alexa Ruona.

The second-grade teacher was ready to call it quits for her career in education just before COVID-19 hit.

But she grew a newfound appreciation for the job when the pandemic forced her school to transition to virtual learning last year.

“I have been teaching for eight years and I was just feeling burnt out and, like a lot of other teachers, feeling underappreciated and I was ready to leave,” Ruona told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday. “Then Aspire came about and I just fell in love with online learning.”

Aspire is the Deer Valley Unified School District’s brand-new online academy for grades kindergarten through 8th grade. This upcoming school year will be its first official year.

The concept of the new school was in the works within the district but since the pandemic changed life for many, the district pushed it out earlier than expected.

Now, roughly two weeks before school starts on Aug. 2, the demand is clear for the new learning model.

“We have seen, in the last few weeks, an uptick in enrollment and have been able to schedule our students accordingly,” Juliet Amara, director of online and virtual programs with the Deer Valley Unified School District, said.

“Right now we are reaching some of our maximums.”

To date, Aspire has one teacher per grade level for kindergarten through sixth grade, including special education services.

The school also has the traditional programming found in brick-and-mortar schools, such as reading specialists and other specials like music, art and P.E.

The overall goal is to meet the needs of today’s society and the different needs of families and students while also keeping up with the trends in education.

“My favorite part, and why I fell in love with online teaching, was the flexibility it gave me and families,” Ruona said. “Seeing kids learn in different places and not within the four walls of a classroom has been incredibly encouraging for me.”

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Gayle Galligan attributes the online learning success for the district’s students to the creative and dedicated teachers within Aspire.

The teachers use the online learning tool “Canvas,” but the curriculum goes beyond that with interactive lesson plans and field trips planned by teachers like Ruona.

“Any classroom is successful because of the teacher and Aspire has some amazing teachers,” Galligan said. “Those are teachers who chose online teaching because they felt like that was their niche.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News


Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from Dec. 1-3

Here are some of the biggest stories that headlined the Arizona news over the weekend, including weather impacts across the state and more.

1 hour ago

Phoenix police...

3 arrested for brutal murder near North Mountain in Phoenix

The Phoenix Police Department made three arrests on Saturday for a murder which happened on Nov. 26 near 7th Avenue and Cinnabar Avenue.

4 hours ago

Renovations of Wildflower Tempe ahead of its grand reopening. (Adler Public Relations photo)...

Tom Kuebel

Wildflower debuts renovations for grand reopening in Tempe

The Wildflower restaurant hosted its grand reopening after making several renovations to its location in Tempe.

7 hours ago

(KTAR News/Peter Samore)...

Casa Grande man sentenced for smuggling meth through San Luis Port of Entry

A man from Casa Grande was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempting to smuggle more than 30 pounds of meth through the San Luis Port of Entry.

9 hours ago

Emma Stone receives a 5-timers robe from SNL veterans Tina Fey and Candice Bergen. (YouTube screens...

Arizona-native Emma Stone hosts SNL for 5th time, joining exclusive club

Arizona native Emma Stone was joined by Tina Fey and Candice Bergen who welcomed her to the illustrious five-timers club for hosting Saturday Night Live.

11 hours ago

Fountain Hills native Nicholas Hambruch was announced as lead for the new "Shrek the Musical" comin...

David Veenstra

Valley native cast as lead of new touring version of ‘Shrek’ musical

An all-new version of "Shrek the Musical" with Fountain Hills native Nicholas Hambruch starring as Shrek is coming to Phoenix in March.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.

Valley teacher rediscovers passion for education through online instruction