Principal Marlene Capristo

Digital Learning Academy Principal Marlene Capristo called the school “digital, not distant.”

The Litchfield Elementary School District introduced the Digital Learning Academy as the organization’s 17th school.

A year after pivoting to online learning, the district saw an immediate need to create a strong online education. Starting next school year, the “A”-rated LESD will fill that need for the more than 700 students enrolled in the academy.

Marlene Capristo will take the lead as the program’s founding principal. Capristo previously served as Verrado Middle School’s assistant principal and student adviser. 

“I am very excited and have an immense amount of gratitude for the high-quality teachers that we have in Litchfield that will be coming to DLA, the ongoing support from the community and the opportunity to lead this school,” Capristo said.

The new online school will feature live teaching lessons, social-emotional learning and the same academic curriculum as the rest of the in-person schools within the district.

“It’s rooted in academic excellence, which was built in an ‘A’-rated district, so I’m excited that we have that academic foundation,” she said. “I think the most exciting part is that we have this strong social-emotional piece, the academic piece, and now we’re just putting it into a different kind of classroom.”

Capristo admitted the pandemic and school closures created a need for an online learning model but said families have found this new way of learning is best for their children. 

“One of the things that’s unique for DLA is that we have live classes, five days a week. We really bring that personal touch to it,” she said. 

Many online learning models have synchronous learning where students are expected to log in and out, with parents responsible to log attendance. However, the new DLA will feature lessons all day.

At this time, registration for the Digital Learning Academy is open. Shelly Hornback, LESD’s director of community relations, said the district may have to cap the number of students but the program is open for growth. 

Capristo said the new online school will add to the already established and successful district. 

“We’re digital, not distant,” she said. “We’re going to continue to have a strong school family. That’s something that Litchfield is known for, and we will continue that even though we’re virtual. And that is something that I’m very, very proud of.”

For more information or to enroll your child in the Digital Learning Academy, visit lesd79.org.