Written by Jenna Needham
As National Dropout Prevention Month winds down, this is an important time to reflect on how a traditional school environment is not the best setting for every student. School is not one–size–fits–all. Shai Griffin, a 10th grader at Michigan Virtual Charter Academy (MVCA), could tell you this.
Shai went to brick and mortar schools her whole life but she never had a great experience. At her first school, she was severely bullied and didn’t have many friends. After transferring to another traditional school during 8th grade, she was so overcome by the difficulties of being a new student that she ended up spending her first day in the office. As it turns out, this was probably one of the best things to happen to her because this is where she met Carrie Johnson, who was a 3rd grade teacher at her new school. Ms. Johnson ended up being one of the only people to comfort Shai and listen to her story.
“I introduced her to several other middle school students and they became very good friends,” said Ms. Johnson. “She loved the school and told me at the end of the year how happy she was. This school and another teacher and I changed her life.“
As time went on, Ms. Johnson and Shai did not lose contact. Shai moved on to the ninth grade but her brick and mortar school did not go all the way up to the 12th grade, so she had to enroll in the online program that her school provided. This program was not a good fit for her.
“I pretty much wanted to drop out. The previous homeschooling system wasn’t well put together, and it wasn’t student friendly,” said Shai. “I was very depressed and I wanted to drop out because I know it wasn’t like me to have these grades that they gave me.”
Shai told Ms. Johnson all about what was going on and had an incredible stroke of luck. Ms. Johnson had just accepted a position to teach at MVCA and let Shai know that this could be an option for her. Two weeks later, she enrolled and fell in love with her new school.
“Let me tell you, MVCA has changed my thoughts, my grades, and my overall learning experience for the better,” Shai said. “The teachers and their lessons are so well put together. It’s amazing!”
This change was all Shai needed to get back on track. Now, she’s getting better grades, she has found her motivation, and her life overall has drastically improved.
“When she goes off and graduates college, she will be the first person in her family to do so,” said Ms. Johnson. “She constantly has obstacles to fight, but she’s a fighter and I know nothing is going to stand in her way to achieving her goals!”