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WYVA student Raphel Tucker at Cinque Terre, Italy

Written by Jenna Needham

Being in a military family means that there is a possibility that your family will have to frequently move. What people don’t realize is that the children of these families often have trouble maintaining a stable education. This was the case for Raphel Tucker before joining Wyoming Virtual Academy (WYVA).

After living in Japan for the first seven years of his life, Raphel’s father, who is a master sergeant in the Air Force, was re-stationed to Wyoming. After starting 2nd grade at his new brick and mortar school, his teachers quickly noticed that Raphel was too advanced for 2nd grade and wanted to move him to the 4th grade at only 7 years old.

“We didn’t want to do that to him. We recently moved from another Air Force base and he was just getting adjusted to his new classroom, but we also didn’t want him to be bored in school and not challenged enough,” said Raphel’s mother, Tina.

This situation made Tina look into other schooling options that may better suit Raphel. Together, they thoroughly researched alternative schools and found that WYVA could be the perfect fit. They applied and enrolled as soon as they could and he has been there ever since.

“Raphel can work at an advanced pace and is constantly stimulated and learning. There are many classes for him to choose from including AP and honors courses. He pretty much can take as many classes and electives as he can handle,” Tina explained. “Even though he has Class Connect lectures he attends with multiple students, he benefits from the one-on-one attention from his teachers, as well as from teacher office hours for further guidance if need be.”

When Raphel’s father began getting stationed around the world again, WYVA was there to provide an educational option that was the best fit for the family. In 2011, his family moved to Aviano, Italy, where they are currently stationed, and Raphel was able to make the transcontinental move without interfering with his education.

After settling in Italy, Raphel began to travel even more frequently to fully experience Europe. He began to visit the historic landmarks and make connections to what he was learning in his coursework.

“Traveling has been an amazing partnership with his education,” Tina said. “He not only read about Auschwitz, he went there! He walked the vast camp, and even walked through an original train car. In Belgium he walked through the German tunnel system of Hitler’s Atlantic wall. In Amsterdam, he stood in the same room Anne Frank and her family were hidden in for years. He saw the beginnings of ancient civilizations in Malta. He has been inside the apartment where Mozart composed some of his most famous pieces in Vienna, and visited his birthplace in Salzburg. He has walked through the ancient Colosseum in Rome where gladiators fought. He has gazed upon Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and the statue of David.”

At 16 years old, Raphel has traveled all around the world visiting 23 countries in total. WYVA’s network of teachers, curriculum and resources has been there every step of the way.

“The sheer fact that he is able to use WYVA coupled with the fact that we are stationed and live overseas has enriched his life incredibly,” said Tina.

In December, the family will be moving to England and Raphel will seamlessly continue his education with WYVA. Even though his location is ever-changing, WYVA will always be a constant for him.

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