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Hailey Bates is a rising 10th grader at Alabama Virtual Academy (ALVA). She is excited to start another school year in a learning environment where she can comfortably be herself!  

For the past 12 years, Hailey has been moving around the world to places like South Korea with her family as her father served the U.S. Army.  He recently retired with an honorable discharge, and they were excited to settle down in their hometown in Alabama.  

However, their experience at first wasn’t as positive as they hoped. Hailey was having many issues with bullies in her brick-and-mortar school.  

“She didn’t grow up with the other kids here, and this caused her to go into a deep depression so bad that it came to the point she no longer wanted to live,” said her mother, Riley. “She threatened suicide at the beginning of ninth grade and we had to hospitalize her.”  

Her mother decided to enroll her in ALVA in December 2016. 

Ever since giving ALVA a chance, Hailey’s life has made a complete turnaround for the better! She loves school and has found hobbies she enjoys, like music and art. 

“With the online school she is able to focus solely on her classwork without all the stress and worrying she went through literally every day at her brick-and-mortar high school,” Riley said. “Her lifestyle is amazing; she is not depressed like she was before. She used to come home from school and go straight to her room, being shut off and anti-social. Now she is pursuing her dreams and keeps busy with her amazing hobbies.” 

The online learning environment is perfect for Hailey. She is now more comfortable asking teachers questions. This is something Hailey would never do in a classroom full of kids because of her fear of embarrassment or being judged.  

Riley loves that she can be her daughter’s learning coach and they spend so much time together. The level of support from the ALVA community is something they never expected.  

“I must thank her teachers for everything they have done for her, even though they’ll never truly know how grateful I will always be to them,” Riley said. “ALVA and all the staff involved in her education have undeniably turned my child’s life into something extraordinary. They all made it possible for her to love school again. Honestly the whole experience for her, myself, and her father is one truly remarkable transition!” 

Riley advises other parents to let their children know that no matter their problem, they can always openly talk to their parents.  

“I personally have a very open, trusting relationship with my child,” Riley said. “She knows to always come to me, even if its 3 a.m. that if she is laying in bed having negative thoughts, she can always come wake me up. Some nights she does and she is 15, but I will get up with her and talk through her issues.” 

Hailey wants other kids to know that it’s always OK to talk to anyone close to them for help. She tells other kids about help hotlines and many other ways to talk about things because it always helps her to get it all out.  

“Another thing to watch out for are when things are getting seriously bad for a child, they seemingly get more and more distant,” Riley said. “At that point, you should talk to your child about talking to professionals. That’s what I did. There sometimes comes a point that, as a parent you want to do anything for your child, but even us parents know that sometimes our kids may need more help than we can give.”

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