By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cowell principal is assuming leadership of online academy

Christie Newman — the current Joshua Cowell principal — has been appointed to serve as principal of the Manteca Unified School District Academy.

“I am thrilled to join the Online Academy as the new principal and eager to be part of an innovative team that provides an accessible path for individual academic success in a flexible setting,” Newman was quoted as saying on a district website post. “Online Academy students have a unique set of needs that vary with each family and I’m excited to see our students meet grade level standards and feel successful as they work toward their individual learning goals.”

The inaugural online academy was launched at the start of the current school year.

The online academy was being formed as the pandemic hit in mid-March 2020. It was part of an ongoing initiative to expand learning opportunities beyond the traditional walls of a class and tradition school schedules as well as offer a wide variety of “education delivery options” including independent study more tailored to student needs.

The current school year started with more than 1,200 students.

While a number opted to do the 100 percent online program rather than return to the classroom at some point during the pandemic, the majority sought out online learning on its own merits.

The Manteca Unified Online Academy for kindergarten through 12th grade is based at the former Manteca Community Day School campus that was previously the Sequoia Annex. Before that it was the Yosemite School that opened in 1914 in the original two-story brick building that was burned in 1946 and then replaced with the current school on West Yosemite Avenue.

Unlike most other online school offerings, Manteca Unified Online Academy students are free to join school clubs, athletic teams, and other extracurricular activities belonging to the traditional high school within the student’s home address boundaries. Online Academy seniors also have the choice of walking with the graduating class of the traditional high school within the student’s home address boundaries.

The teaching ratio is a bit higher at one teacher per 40 students. They will have offices, resources and support at the former Manteca Community Day School campus.

It is being taught by Manteca Unified certificated educators with a robust, standards-based curriculum at every grade level. Students take core classes in math, science, English language arts, and social studies. Additionally, electives meeting A-G requirements are offered to high school students. 

The Online Academy has a unique modular student learning platform designed for an online (at home) learning environment designed for students who feel online learning meets their needs.

Personalized learning is based on engaging and interactive curriculum using 21st century tools and techniques.

The virtual classroom gives families the flexibility to schedule school wherever they are, at times that work best for their schedule, and at a pace that works best for their child. Some coursework and live sessions do need to take place at fixed times. District computing devices equipped with all necessary applications are issued at enrollment. 

Students have a variety of options for socialization and developing friendships. Even in a virtual classroom, students meet regularly in online live sessions, where they can share ideas, compare experiences, and learn together.

The flexibility of the program allows for students with full schedules that pursue other personal interests such as performing arts, athletics, or an early career.

Newman has 18 years of experience within Manteca Unified. She has served as an elementary teacher, program coordinator, vice principal and most recently the principal of Joshua Cowell for the last six years.

She has a Master of Science in Educational Administration from National University, an Administrative Credential from National University, a Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential from the California State University, Stanislaus and a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from the California State University, Monterey Bay.

Newman’s work as leader and educator extends beyond the walls of the school, where she is a certified facilitator for the National Institute for School Leadership.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email