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 Dylan and Shepard Smith pose with their little sister for a Back To School photo. 

Military families often are relocated around the globeforced to adapt to new places and people.  This K12-powered family made their transition experience easier by joining the virtual school community this summer 

Brothers Dylan and Shepard Smith started school this week at Washington Virtual Academy (WAVA). Dylan, who is 12 years old, entered sixth grade, and 7-year-old Shepard started second grade. 

Christina applied to WAVA, and within the same day, her children were accepted and enrolled.  

“Anytime I hear the words ‘enrollment process,’ I cringe,” Christina said. “However, with K12 the whole process was so user-friendly that I couldn’t believe how quickly I had everything done.” 

After submitting the online application, she read that an enrollment coordinator would try to get back to her within 48 hours.  To her surprise, the coordinator contacted her within an hour of submitting the form and answered all of her remaining questions. 

“I went back into the system and finished off the admission process, supplying more detailed information about each child and the extra documentation needed for each one,” she said. “Later in the day, I received a phone call from an admissions advisor where we discussed and verified information that I had submitted, and then in it was on its way for approval.” 

Christina was very pleased with her enrollment experience and the quick responses from enrollment staff.  

“It was simple and only took a few short hours to have everything turned over to K12,” she said. “It took me roughly 2-to-3 hours to gather all the information and documents for both students,” and within 48 hours, Christina had received official emails from WAVA stating their acceptance for the academic school year 

 Shepard (left) and Dylan (right) pose with personalized signs before their school year begins. 

Dylan and Shepard’s dad, Jeff Smith, is in the Air Force, and their stepdad, Anthony Gagonis in the Army. The family has lived in Louisiana, North Dakota, Kentucky, and Missouri before moving to Washington in August 2015. 

“As a military family, we know that every few years we will be on the move to a new duty station,” said the boys’ mother, Christina Gagon. With that comes the adjustments we face academically as we prepare our children into a new school environmentI independently homeschooled my three children when we lived in MissouriWhen we transitioned to Washington, I decided to give the two older boys the opportunity to try the schools on the military installation. However, they just didn’t meet the expectation that I had hoped for academically.” 

Christina, who says her experience with WAVA has been “nothing but wonderful” so far, appreciates how K12 lessons are more personalized to each student’s education and learning styles. She also enjoys how involved she can be in her sons’ schooling.  

“It’s a perfect way for me to be more engaged in my children’s education,” she said. “Not only am I a mom, I’m also a learning coach – I am more actively involved in day-to-day lessons and see firsthand what they are learning and where they are struggling versus just reviewing reports and homework sent home in a backpack.”  

In the weeks before class started for Dylan and Shepard, they both logged onto their student accounts and watched videos on how to find lessons, check schedules, contact teachers, and access Class Connect. 

“They are excited to start the school year,” Christina said. “After receiving supplies and reviewing the material we have received, we are looking forward to diving into history and science.” 

Dylan and Shepard have also started to take advantage of the interactive programs offered by K12, including LearnBop 

“I am able to see my children become better problem solvers and critical thinkers with this program,” Christina said. “It has provided detailed explanations, examples, and lessons that have given them the confidence for the upcoming school year.”

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