CJ Larkin went from almost failing the first grade to becoming a straight-A student within months.
In the first semester of first grade, CJ developed epilepsy in addition to being a Type 1 diabetic. The diagnosis began to cause problems at school, because the staff was frightened, often keeping CJ in the clinic rather than in the classroom. CJ’s mother Ashley said, “The nurses were afraid of him; he wasn’t even allowed to ride the bus when his sugar levels were either too low or too high.”
As a result, CJ lost a great deal of learning time, missing over 50 days of school due to transportation difficulties or hospital and doctor visits. With the significant number of absences, CJ’s grades suffered. Knowing that this was not the best learning environment for her son, Ashley began to consider alternatives. After seeing a TV commercial and conducting extensive research, Ashley decided to meet with officials from Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA) and ultimately Ashley decided to enroll CJ into the online school for his second semester of first grade.
Now a third grader, CJ has completely transformed as a student with LAVCA, earning extremely high marks, in contrast to his previous brick-and-mortar school experience. “K12 has been the perfect fit for my son since CJ is able to take his work anywhere we go,” Ashley said. “We never know when we might have to make an emergency trip to the hospital, so it’s wonderful that he can watch the recorded Class Connects afterwards.”
CJ’s grandmother serves as his learning coach with additional help from Ashley, as well. The family feels a great deal of support from LAVCA’s teachers and staff. “My mother will often receive a call every other week or so checking in on CJ and asking if there is anything else we need as a K12 family,” Ashley said. “That’s more support than we ever got at his old school.”
Additionally, Ashley feels that CJ is academically challenged. CJ is currently working on division, a skill that his fourth grade sister is also learning in her traditional brick-and-mortar school. “When I sit in on his lessons, I find that he is answering the teacher’s questions quickly and on his own,” Ashley said. She also believes that it is crucial for CJ to learn computer literacy skills, typing, and accountability, something that LAVCA is teaching him instinctively.
One of the qualities of the LAVCA curriculum that Ashley appreciates most is the program’s special attention to life skills like handwriting and spelling, something that many traditional school settings do not have the time to focus on. She explained, “I am currently on the waitlist for my oldest daughter, Skyler, to join K12 since I don’t feel she is learning these essential skills with at her brick-and-mortar school.”
The family has also participated in a few extracurricular activities to provide CJ with socialization opportunities. The family is very involved in their local church, where CJ often spends a great deal of time interacting with other children his age. Additionally, CJ has participated in several field trips with LAVCA, including visits to the bowling alley and art museum.
CJ has three siblings, including oldest sister Skyler and two younger twin sisters Shyanne and Brianna. Ashley is considering moving all four children into online education in the future. “Our experience with LAVCA has been great, and I feel that this program can greatly help all my children long-term,” she said.