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North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA) 9th-grader Emma Palys has high functioning autism, and throughout elementary school her daily struggles with anxiety were getting in the way of her school work.

When attending brick-and-mortar school, Emma’s anxiety was crippling. “She would come home every day in tears,” said her mom Bridget. “Homework would take three to four hours a night.”

The traditional learning environment was overwhelming, and the teachers didn’t have the resources to give Emma the personalized education that she needed. The family tried homeschooling on their own, but her mom soon hit a point where she didn’t feel she could provide the education that Emma needed. For 7th grade, Bridget turned to NCVA.

The family quickly found that NCVA provided the support that Emma needed to succeed. She gets more one-on-one support from teachers, who took the time to get to know Emma from the start. Two years later they remain committed to her success, taking time to make sure she understands the material. “I know that I can count on my teachers to help me when I need it most,” says Emma. “I try to work hard for my teachers, because they work hard for me.”

NCVA provides Emma with the personalized education that she needs, and her mother says she is blossoming. “Not only has her anxiety decreased, but she is actually learning and retaining what is being taught to her,” said Bridget. She enjoys working in small groups with her peers, and is forming friendships with her classmates. Emma has been inducted into the National Honors Society, something she and her mother had never envisioned before.

Emma has also shown a new interest in attending college, thinking ahead with high hopes for the future. She is considering pursuing forensic photography and music therapy. “She is thinking beyond now,” Bridget said. “College was never a conversation before NCVA.”

“I credit all her successes to NCVA and K12,” said Bridget. “It’s been amazing. It saved my daughter’s life!

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