World’s first virtual reality charter school opening in Naples

Published: January 6, 2022 3:56 PM EST
Updated: January 6, 2022 6:20 PM EST

The world’s first virtual reality charter school will open its virtual doors next year, and it’s based right here in Southwest Florida.

The Optima Classical Academy in Naples will let students see their entire classroom in virtual reality instead of a zoom meeting.

Optima Classical Academy wants parents to know the future is now. Using a simple headset, students will experience learning in 3D virtual reality.

Erika Donalds, founder, and CEO of Optima Classical Academy, said, “they can see the entire classroom and 360 degrees. And these atoms and the planets are in three dimensions there. They look like you can reach out and touch them.”

Donalds’ goal is to help kids close the learning gap by creating better teacher-student relationships.

Her own experience has taught her that it can be rough in the traditional virtual education model.

Adam Mangana, the executive director for Optima Domi, agrees. “My kids are currently in an online school, and it’s a classical school, great content, but they have missed because of the two-dimensional model, the powerful relationships.”

Students across Florida can enter a lottery to be a part of Optima Classical Academy.

It will open in the fall with students in grades three through eight.

Donalds said, “because we are a charter school, our students can participate in sports, at their zone school in person. And so we’re going to encourage families to take advantage of that and help to facilitate that.”

Going to school in person is not an option for everyone, like Fort Myers 4th grader Asher Johnson

“Whenever we go into schools, he would have asthmatic attacks. And he’d get really sick. So for us, it was better to keep them home for health reasons,” said Asher’s mom Emily Johnson.

Asher’s mom said they tried virtual learning, hybrid academy, homeschooling, but nothing was engaging enough, until now.

Johnson said, “it literally feels like you’re going to school, you feel like you’re walking into a school. And every day he’ll get to do that he’ll see his friends every single day, he’ll stay healthy. But yet, he’ll still have that sense of community. So we are really excited, aren’t we?”

Asher has enrolled in Optima Classical Academy which goes online in the fall.

The charter school is free and promises small class sizes, interactive learning, and lots of clubs.

If you want more information or are interested in enrolling your child at Optima Classical Academy, you can click here or visit optimaclassical.org.