iConnect Zone Overview
The iConnect Zone has reinvented educational environments that inspire individuals’ peak potential. In iConnect, faculty interconnect effective educational systems, which inspire individuals to their learning potential, investigate and implement best educational practices that lead students to success, invest in students by challenging and developing citizens that compete in a global society, invent settings and systems that empower individuals’ learning, leadership and life. The zone strives to inspire individuals with meaningful challenges and surround them with nurturing support to achieve ambitious goals.
- Online and Blended Learning
- Credit Recovery
- Alternative Education
- Tuition-free Charter Schools
iConnect Zone Schools
iConnect Zone Leader
Degrees and Certifications:
Andy Franko is the iConnect Zone Superintendent. The iConnect Zone encompasses twelve “non-traditional” schools within the district portfolio. Franko oversees four district operated schools including an Alternative Education Campus (9-12), multi-district online/blended school (K-12), multi-district online/blended Early College (9-14), and a Homeschool Program (K-12). In addition, Franko manages the authorization of eight charter schools offering K-12 models inclusive of online learning, classical education, expeditionary learning, project-based learning, career and tech, and humanities based education.
Franko holds a Masters Degree from the University of Colorado. His career in education includes teaching, coaching, and administration in the K-12 setting. With both traditional and public charter experience, Franko embraces a unique perspective of school choice and student opportunity. In addition to his work in District 49, Franko serves as a board member for the Colorado League of Charter Schools and the Colorado Digital Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
Currently, Franko and his team are working on three projects to enhance the educational quality for students. The first is developing online professional development courses for teachers. Mastery badges are awarded upon completion and identify opportunities for instructional staff. As a result, the iConnect Zone deploys instructors focused on virtual education and instructors focused on blended education. The goal is to better utilize instructional staff based on strengths, become more efficient with the staffing model, and maximize a workforce.
The second project is focused on students. The iConnect Zone is developing a student centric system that allows for the identification of students’ abilities to work in an independent learning environment. The iConnect Zone seeks to understand and provide the appropriate supports to students who learn in an independent environment. As such, the iConnect Zone is in the process of developing an Autonomous Learning Profile (ALP).
Finally, Franko and the iConnect Zone are working directly with the local community to support students who are engaged in High Performance activities that extend beyond the school day. Given the District’s location in Colorado Springs, the project began with the Olympic Training Center and National Governing Bodies such as USA Wrestling and USA Boxing. The iConnect Zone offers a unique educational opportunity to athletes, artists, and performers through a blended school model. Student performers leverage a flexible school schedule and online curriculum to complete graduation pathways and compete and perform at the highest level.
Charter School Request for Proposals
2014-2015 News in District 49
Paul Austin, science educator at Patriot Learning Center, will use a $4200 Teachers and Technology grant from CenturyLink to purchase a 3D printer. Austin and his students will use the 3D printer to create different propellers in a boat drag racing unit. "Without this grant, there's no way we could do the tinkering phase of the project," said Austin. "It isn't cost effective and there's no way we'd be able to wait for a manufacturer to do that process for us."
Kindergartner Cassie Johnson, 6, tells principal Don Knapp that “engineers make machines to make life easier” during a gallery night May 20 at Pikes Peak School of Expeditionary Learning in District 49.
Dale Bonavita, counselor at Falcon Virtual Academy, explains her recognition by the Colorado Department of Education as online and blended counselor of the year during a Board of Education meeting May 14 in District 49.
"I chose you because you were quite fun to talk to and work with throughout my high school career and encouraged me regularly to pursue greater heights in my writing of which I am so fond of," wrote Johnathan Dillard about FVA teacher Jill Pellegrini, "Thank you enough for being such an amazing teacher." Pellegrini placed the graduation cap on Dillard's head at the school's annual capping ceremony.
"Gymnastics is easier to focus on because of the flexibility I have at Falcon Virtual Academy," said Jay Barnish, who recently qualified for the U.S. Gymnastics Junior Olympic National Championships. "I get more time in the gym when I need it because of the freedom."
Evans International Elementary School fifth-grader Alexis Gonzalez, 11, discusses a question about a story April 9 during a districtwide Battle of the Books competition at Evans International Elementary School in District 49.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC players Carlos Contreras, Josh Phillips and Jaime McGuinness spoke to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students Feb. 6 at Imagine Indigo Ranch.