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Written by Jenna Needham

Education is not one-size-fits-all.  Students learn in different ways and benefit from varying teaching methods, which is not always available in brick and mortar schools.

Sixth grader Gabriel Anduaga-Arias is a bright student, but he found that he needed a little extra time to learn certain concepts.  When he wasn’t given that time in his brick and mortar school, he became less and less confident in himself and his education.  It got to the point where his own classmates began to bully him.  This is when his family decided to make the switch to Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA).

“Gabriel has a very hard time when under pressure, so the deadlines at school would paralyze him,” said his mother, A.J. Arias. “He began to create stories in his head about what was ‘just too hard,’ like writing essays, answering in-depth questions, and stopping to think carefully about a complicated math problem. He would give up rather than attempt those things. Partnering with AZVA allowed for Gabe to take his time, and he is slowly but successfully overcoming his misconceptions about what he is capable of. This has helped tremendously with his self-esteem.”

Not only did AZVA help with his learning style, but Gabriel felt all-around safer going to school.  Gabriel met other students who had been bullied in their brick and mortar schools as well, and they openly talked with him about their situations.  Gabriel quickly realized he was not alone and his confidence sky-rocketed.

Gabriel also got a tremendous amount of support from his teachers, all of whom offered him one-on-one help. One teacher in particular, Albert Schaffer, was incredibly encouraging and gentle with Gabriel, which allowed him to open up and ask more questions and helped him feel more comfortable in his school environment.

“Gabriel is getting the emotional support and personally customized challenge level he previously needed, and he is thriving in that environment,” A.J. said.

Gabriel’s family would advocate the online education option for any families with students facing bullying situations or students who are having a little trouble with the traditional learning environment.  This opportunity helped change Gabriel’s life.

“Online learning is an excellent way to put a finger on what is going on with your child,” A.J. said. “When they are at school all day, you don’t really understand what is going wrong and what is going right. At AZVA, Gabriel and I have worked together to help him meet his potential, and being a part of that transformation has been really special.”

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