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November is National Adoption Month, celebrating all those who have invited a child in need into their families. On the Saturday before Thanksgiving – Nov. 19 – National Adoption Day, kicks off a week of reflection and gratitude for many adoptive families. 

About five years ago, Tammy Thompson and her husband adopted three sisters who, after a painful situation experienced at a young age, have found a safe place to learn in North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA) 

The girls suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other disciplinary issues as a result of an unusual upbringing by their biological parents.  The pain still comes out day-to-day in different forms, including daily meltdowns and ongoing anxiety.  

The Thompsons enrolled the three girls – Ashlyn (10), Savannah (9), and Abigail (8) – into their local brick-and-mortar school, but it was clear that they weren’t getting the quality of support or teaching style they needed in the traditional classroom setting. 

They would come home with homework and we didn’t understand what they went through that day,” Tammy said. “They couldn’t even tell us what they were supposed to be doing when they got home. You’re not given the option to talk to the teacher during the day. Communication with teachers was hard.” 


After searching for alternative possibilities for a proper learning environment suiting their needs, the found the answer in Spring 2015.  The Thompsons received a phone call from a friend that NCVA was opening. Learning changed for the better for the girls from the point forward. 

“At home they each have their own physical learning spaces where they can move around, go to the bathroom, get something to drink, and not be so confined,” Tammy said. “We get to see what they’re doing and know where they’re at and what they need help with. We’re able to be more involved in what they’re doing and we don’t have to try to figure out.” 

The online aspect of NCVA allowed the Thompsons to closely manage their daughters lessons with the full support of state-certified teachers who are available via phone, email and virtual classroom technology. The teachers even checked in on the family during Hurricane Matthew, which hit the Thompsons’ hometown of Benson, North Carolina, this fall. 

“The behavior and meltdowns have improved significantly, as well as their education,” Tammy said. “Through this program, we’re in a better situation and we’re able to get the help we need. Special education teachers are great and counselors call us personally during bad times. We appreciate the support from teachers. When we went through the storm and the lights were out, we had all these emails asking if we were OK and everything.” 

With this alternative option to the traditional public school model in NCVAAshlyn, Savannah and Abigail are able to receive an education which allows them to thrive! 

Learn more about the Thompsons in this Public School Options video about their growth as a family.  

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