Jennifer Schultze's picture

Advocating for School Choice - The Power of YOUR Voice!

School choice advocates at the 2016 Parent Advocacy Boot Camp.

On July 10th over 100 teachers and parents met in Washington D.C. at Capitol Hill for the 2016 Parent Advocacy Boot Camp hosted by  Jennifer Schultze, Wyoming Virtual Academy teacher describes how her advocacy efforts began and suggests ways you can get involved in your state.

When I first started my online teaching career, 7 years ago, I remember thinking what a great ‘choice’ it was for my family, personally.  Over the next year, I began to discover that just like I had made a career choice that was the best fit for my family, parents had the same motivation to find a school choice that best fit their family’s needs.

K12 Inc.'s picture

No Challenge Can Stop the Smile and Success of MVCA Student Kayla Mason

MVCA student Kayla Mason takes her M-Step tests with her beloved stuffed cat, Amber.

Rising 4th grade Michigan Virtual Charter Academy (MVCA) student Kayla Mason is extremely spirited, bright, and hard-working, despite the physical disability she bravely faces.

“Kayla has cerebral palsy and is unable to walk, sit up, or use either of her hands efficiently on her own,” Kayla’s father, Bruce Mason, said. “What Kayla does have is an incredible mind and unstoppable spirit.”

Bruce enrolled Kayla in online schooling at MVCA as a second grader so that he is able to provide her with the one-on-one attention that allows her to thrive. Before MVCA, Kayla was unable to get the attention she deserves because she was one of 40 students at her school that needed support.

K12 Inc.'s picture

Teacher Highlight: WAVA’s April Sorensen Makes an Impact

Aza Lynn (left) and Jayden Perez (right) enhance their reading skills with the help of April Sorensen

Much of a child’s achievement in school starts with reading. One Washington Virtual Academy (WAVA) teacher, April Sorensen, has gone above and beyond to ensure her students’ reading success. Two of Sorensen’s students, Aza Lynn and Jayden Perez, were struggling readers before Sorensen’s work with the family.

Aza Lynn

Aza Lynn, a rising second grader from Fall City, Washington, has always had difficulty reading. In the spring, Sorensen identified the source of Aza’s reading struggles as visual tracking problems, and together Aza’s mother Shelby Lynn and Sorensen worked to get Aza caught up.

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GCA’s Golden Girl Aniya Louissaint Punches Her Olympic Ticket

Aniya Louissaint graduated from Georgia Cyber Academy in May.

When recent Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) graduate Aniya Louissaint was 14, she watched the remake of The Karate Kid with Jaden Smith and decided she wanted to learn martial arts.

It wasn’t an uncommon theme.

“When I was younger, I’d watch dance movies and I’d want to be a dancer; I’d watch a movie about a piano player and I’d want to be a pianist,” she said. “When I saw The Karate Kid, I really wanted to learn.”

One day, Aniya’s father, Richard Louissaint, surprised her and her younger sister, Kianna, by taking them to a taekwondo class. It didn’t go too well.

“I got beat up by everyone there,” Aniya said.

Katie Hart's picture

Is This Thing On? How the Virtual Teacher Hears the Voices of Their Students

I love that “AHA!” moment.  When I was a student teacher there was a time I thought I should throw in the towel, but then it happened.  I was able to help a student figure out exponential relationships using the tale of Alice in Wonderland and exploring how Alice’s eating and drinking habits affected her overall size.  When the student finally understood the concept, his eyes lit up, his posture straightened and a literal gasp escaped his lips.  Not only did he understand an exponential relationship, but I knew I was hooked on teaching.

Many think it is a challenge for online teachers to experience that “aha” moment because we are not physically in the same room as our students.  For me, teaching online does not mean I don’t hear the voice of my students.  There are many tools we use to allow students to communicate with their peers and their teachers.  Students are able to give green checks for approval, or red x’s for a negative response.  Writing on the whiteboard by hand or typing with unique fonts are all ways to hear the voice of the student.   

Jeff Kwitowski's picture

Welcome To Hotel California

In an editorial on Monday, The Wall Street Journal characterized the California Attorney General’s now-concluded investigation into K12 Inc. and the 11 California Virtual Academies (CAVA) as a coordinated ambush targeting K12 and the online charters schools after they dared to resist the California Teachers Association’s (CTA) unionization campaign.  (Read the entire WSJ editorial here.)

In 2014, the CTA launched its unionization campaign of the CAVA schools.  Over the next 2+ years the teachers union spared no expense, marshalled all of its political allies, spun the media, and hurled dozens of allegations against K12 and CAVA schools no matter how unfounded. The union fired every arrow in its quiver. 

In early 2015, the CTA recruited several state legislators, all recipients of the union’s massive political campaign war chest, to pressure the CAVA schools to bow to the union’s demands.  When that failed, the union crafted a bill aimed at shutting down the CAVA schools and other charters that contract with private providers.  The CTA was successful lobbying it through the Legislature, but Governor Brown vetoed it in September 2015.  Shortly thereafter, Attorney General Harris launched her investigation into so-called “for profit virtual schools” (public virtual schools in California are nonprofits).

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GWUOHS Student Foils The Competition

GWUOHS Student Stefani Deschner (left) takes her opponent down

When George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS) rising senior Stefani Deschner was younger, she used to put a fencing mask on one of her stuffed animals and practice drills on it.

Years later, Stefani, now 17, is the third-best female fencer in the world under the age of 20 after winning the bronze medal at the Cadet World Championships.

“Fencing, or foil, is usually known as ‘the sport with swords,’ but it’s a lot more than that,” she explained. “It’s played with two people that are both holding blunted instruments who have to hit each other in certain target areas. There is a referee that judges who has the ‘right of way,’ and you gain points when you hit the other person. Whoever gets to 15 points first is the winner.”

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MNVA Entrepreneur Runs Own Business at Age 16

MNVA student Mary Knack with horses Freedom's Flame and Flynn

An entrepreneurial spirit, a love of horses, and a flexible yet rigorous education: that’s the recipe for Minnesota Virtual Academy (MNVA) student Mary Knack’s success. Mary, who runs her own tacking business at the age of 16, will be taking two horses to the Wright County Fair for 4-H open shows July 27th- 31st.

Mary began dressage and jumping lessons at 7 years old and became interested in training horses by 12 years old. She was wildly successful. There were just two important factors to ensure her continued equine success: money and excellent time management. To solve the first, Mary started her business, Equine Essentials. As for the latter, Mary attends MNVA and is able to complete her schoolwork at night, when she is most focused.

Ashley Fryer's picture

Debunking the "Perfect" Student Myth

I have actually said to many different Learning Coaches, “I would love to have 100 students just like yours in my classroom!” I’ve meant it every single time. Yet, the students I would love to have don’t all fit into the same mold. Here are some common statements about the “perfect” student that simply don’t transfer to the virtual setting:

The perfect student should always be in class from 8:00am-3:30pm, never being absent or tardy. In our virtual setting, students can watch a recording from a previously held live session. I have many amazing students who miss class occasionally due to world travel, medical issues, training, etc. They learn on their schedule, including nights and weekends.

The perfect student should be dressed conservatively. Clothing, hair color, and even body art for some high school students is a way to express themselves. In traditional schools, clothing may be a modesty issue- which I can understand. But, I do not agree that a student’s hair color or piercings hinders others from learning. I also don’t think a student who prefers to dress more modestly should be judged by peers as “uncool” because they are conservative. In the online setting, the guardians decide what is appropriate for their child to wear to class- what a novel idea!

K12 Inc.'s picture

How this K12-Powered Kayaker Expertly Navigates School and Sport

Evy Leibfarth competes in the European Canoeing Association Junior Cup

Not many people can say they competed in the Olympic Trials and the European World Cup Series - at the age of 12! K12 International Academy (iCademy) student Evy Leibfarth came in sixth place at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Canoe/Kayak Slalom in April, then won all five of the races in which she competed in the European Canoeing Association (ECA) Junior Cup this summer.

Evy began schooling with iCademy two years ago to pursue her passion for kayaking, as well as to challenge herself academically.