Wildcats’ Kapusta adds education role at prestigious Excel Academy
Tomas Kapusta has spent most of adult life dedicated to playing hockey and coaching kids in the sport he loves, but that doesn’t mean his only interests are on the ice.
Kapusta is also passionate about teaching, and is combining his interests as an education specialist with Excel Academy – a role in which he aims to help dedicated young hockey players pursue their schooling in a flexible independent-study education.
A former professional center and Czech Republic National Team member, Kapusta has served as the AAA and High Performance director, as well as the Bantam and Midget age-group manager, for the Wildcats youth hockey program in Paramount, Riverside and Carlsbad since 2012 and will continue in those positions. He recently discovered the opportunity to work with Excel Academy, and felt that it was a smart way to approach education for kids and their families that focus a lot of their time and energy on travel hockey.
Kapusta – a graduate of Cal State L.A. who earned a teaching credential from Cal State Long Beach in 2009 – will deliver and facilitate a focused and efficient educational plan.
“I believe that my background as a hockey coach for the past 14 years and as a credentialed teacher allows me to think creatively about education and support the unique educational needs of student-athletes,” Kapusta said. “This provides me with the unique ability to simultaneously be involved with student-athletes both as a personal on-ice trainer and a teacher supporting an online education model.”
With all of the work completed in a homeschool atmosphere and in the online environment, students have the freedom to take their classes and do their coursework in hotel rooms, airports, cars or anywhere they can access a computer, and they aren’t tied to the normal schedule of the traditional school day. The biggest benefit, Kapusta said, is that students don’t have to miss classroom hours to travel for hockey.
“When I started talking with the people at Excel Academy, I realized that this could be a great option for hockey players who are serious about their education and are able to study independently,” Kapusta said.
“I’ve been thinking about an option like this for a number of years. Because I’ve spent so much of my time coaching, I haven’t been able to teach in a physical school, but I’ve been looking for a way to apply my teaching credential within the hockey world.”
The program is open not just to Wildcats players, but to all hockey players across all associations, and Kapusta will oversee students in six Southern California counties – San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, Imperial and Kern counties.
Kapusta said parents have had plenty of questions on how the program works. Excel Academy is a tuition-free program of California Pacific and Community Collaborative Charter Schools and offers students in grades 6-12 personalized learning options through Edgenuity (www.edgenuity.com), an A-G approved all-online curriculum. Students work at their own pace from home with the support of a highly-qualified single-subject online teacher in all core subjects (English, math, social studies and science). Edgenuity allows student-athletes to complete all California state requirements at each grade level while at the same time prioritizing time and growth on the ice.
Once a month, Kapusta will meet with each student and his or her family to collect work samples and discuss online progress. The friendly, supportive monthly meeting is designed to encourage and support Excel students and families on their homeschool journey.
“My primary role as an education specialist is to work together with the parents to execute an appropriate course of study, help the student meet or exceed grade-level requirements, and ultimately, work toward graduation from high school,” Kapusta said. “I am committed to tailoring customized learning for each student and family.”
— Greg Ball