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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!

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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.

Katie Poindexter's picture

How an "Education Marketplace" Benefits Everyone


On a recent trip to my local grocery store I was overwhelmed by the number of options I had for various products. Laundry detergent, for example. I counted 12 different brands and 27 different varieties of laundry detergent - with bleach, without bleach, for HE machines, with softener. All able to do the same job - clean my family’s clothes. The number of options made me realize that choices surround us every day. Which store I shop at, which products I purchase, which gas station I go to, which gas I buy, where I eat, the food I order - a world of choices for these everyday frivolous things. Yet we are given few options on the matters that mean the most to the majority of Americans - presidential candidates, health insurance coverage, public education.

A good friend and colleague from the Virginia Virtual Academy, Elizabeth Clark, best explains some of our students and the current educational system as “trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.” These students don’t fit into the “one size fits all” public schools that so many politicians (those that think they know our children’s educational needs best) leave as the only option in some states. Parents seeking educational options ultimately have one common goal - they want their child to be successful. In a recent Manifesto on the current state of ed reform, Jeanne Allen, founder of the Center for Education Reform, wrote, “The greatest opportunity for improving student motivation comes from personalized learning.” Personalized learning - a great concept, attempted but rarely successful in the brick and mortar classroom. How do you truly personalize learning in one environment - the classroom - with one curriculum - likely on the same grade level - in 60 minutes or less? A brick and mortar teacher unquestionably does his/her best, but with the resources and time given, truly personalized learning will not take place for most students. So what is the key to working towards more personalized learning?