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Written by Victoria Bannon

In fifth grade, Kaitlyn Stegner was fed up. Her traditional school was failing her. While successful academically, she grew tired of the ‘collective classroom punishment’ that was being forced on her – a mode of discipline where entire classrooms of students are punished rather than just the culprit.

“I just got really tired of being punished for things that I wasn’t doing,” sait Kaitlyn, now 17.

Besides this unnecessary discipline, Kaitlyn’s needs were not being addressed by the curriculum. She was often so far advanced that she would finish far ahead of the other students, and would spend her time tutoring them. “My sister was in kindergarten at the time, and when my mom would pick her up at noon, all I would want to do is to go with her. “

When she got into sixth grade, Kaitlyn and her family decided to switch to homeschooling. This quickly became expensive, and the Stegners looked for a new option. They found it at Texas Virtual Academy (TXVA).

“We first found TXVA through an infomercial, actually,” Kaitlyn shares. “I was looking to take Latin and we also really needed a new option for me, and TXVA had it.”

Three years later, her sister joined her at TXVA, and they have been enjoying online schooling together for the last three years. “We’ve really become closer as a family because we can spend more time with each other,” Kaitlyn said. “I used to bicker with my sister all the time, but now we don’t do it at all.”

The freedom also gives the family the ability to work ahead and take vacations together without the stress of homework getting in the way, something they’d never be able to do at a traditional school.

Kaitlyn is also able to chat with her friends that she’s made on her class discussion threads. “Some of these people I’ve known since the seventh grade, so it’s been years now,” she said.

She’s also able to dedicate more time to her volunteer work, hold a job, and pursue her interest in teaching.

This interest has actually been buoyed by her teachers, who she says are all very supportive of her goals. “I have more interaction and connection with teachers here than I ever had in my traditional school setting, and my teachers have offered me a lot of guidance in my future career path, which has been amazing,” Kaitlyn said.

And one day, Stegner wants to return to the virtual classroom and help a new generation of students succeed.

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