Have you heard of Optima Academy Online? This Naples based school is taking the education world by storm and we sat down with Erika Donalds, founder and Chief Executive Officer of OptimaEd, to have all of your questions answered in our latest interview.
What is Optima Academy Online exactly?
Based in Naples, Optima Academy Online (OAO) launched in 2022 as the world’s first virtual reality public charter school. Through its time-tested, value-centered classical liberal arts and sciences curriculum and pioneering, collaborative learning approach, the school has utilized cutting-edge virtual reality technology to transport young scholars to fascinating locations around the globe and beyond – from Pompeii to the depths of the ocean and even to the Apollo 11 lunar landing site.
OAO provides courses that are fully accredited and comply with state standards. By offering full-time and part-time courses (live and on-demand), the academy empowers independent learning by allowing scholars to pursue quality education on their own terms. This immersive and interactive learning approach has led to remarkable academic test scores among Florida students at the school.
What sets you apart from other charter schools?
OAO has successfully established itself as a leader in shaping a new parent-led future for education, providing a much-needed alternative for students seeking a space outside of traditional schooling options. OAO has set itself apart from traditional schools by offering young scholars a trailblazing, independent and collaborative approach to learning. Through immersive virtual reality-based education, OAO has provided students with an engaging and interactive learning experience, resulting in exceptional academic achievements.
Can anyone attend, or is it open to Florida residents only?
OAO is a tuition-free, cutting-edge charter school currently available for K-9 students in Florida. OAO also recently expanded to offer state-specific versions of the program in Arizona and Michigan, and we are actively partnering with more states to advance our tuition-free model. While we’re growing, students outside of Florida, Arizona and Michigan can enroll in OAO in direct pay per course per year. You can contact our team for more information.
Do you offer scholarships?
OAO is a tuition-free, public charter school free to all Florida students.
What does a typical day at OAO look like?
OAO offers full-time and part-time courses, live and on-demand, and students move between virtual reality and self-paced offline learning as each lesson dictates. OAO has also upgraded from a school of record to a fully certified online course provider, allowing students to enroll in courses in an a la carte style, whether they want to select one course or six.
The school combines a virtual reality classroom with a classical learning model and a dedicated focus on student learning independence. Students step into a virtual world as their personalized avatar, transported to a “classroom” at Pompeii, a pre-historic watering hole, or deep under the ocean. They learn about historical events, characters, stories, fables, poetry, scientific facts and mathematical proofs in a fully immersive experience, adding an unheard-of level of context to their studies.
Do you have to apply to attend OAO?
We request that parents or guardians apply to select courses and enroll in the school online, using our online enrollment form at www.optimaacademy.online/course-enrollment/
What would be your best advice for someone looking to start with OAO?
Parents, if you’re looking for a fresh and innovative education option for your child, visit the Optima Academy Online website to learn more about what we offer. At OAO, parents see their scholars thrive and excel – while having a say in their children’s education.
Is there anything else we should know about OAO?
Throughout its first year, OAO achieved incredible growth and accomplishments, including OAO’s first cohort of students – who graduated with a 96% pass and completion rate. Also, the program had previously been available only for grades 3-8, but OAO now offers courses for grades K-9, with plans to add grades 10-12 in 2025-2027. I encourage parents across Florida to visit OAO’s website for additional information about the school that is shaping a new parent-led future for our children’s education: www.optimaacademy.online
This interview was done in partnership with Optima Academy Online.