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At Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) and Insight Academy of Arizona (ISAZ), students have the option to attend a blended learning center near them. There are six different sites scattered around the state, and they have been participating in National School Choice Week by celebrating their achievements and accomplishments within school and clubs.

At the Queen Creek Blended Learning Center, students were making pico de gallo from ingredients that they grew themselves using an on-site tower garden in their Garden Club. They were excited to make it and definitely enjoyed eating it! At the Kingman Blended Learning Center, students were practicing the National School Choice Week Dance in preparation for recording it the next day. Students in grades 3- 12 were practicing together while wearing their yellow School Choice Week scarves.

While the students, teachers, and staff members were excited because of the activities and the fun spirit days (crazy hair day, hat day, and time travel day), what was even more apparent was the students’ pride in their schools and themselves! There are 115 students that attend the Kingman Blended Learning Center from both AZVA and ISAZ every day – and each of those 115 students had interesting stories to tell about why they chose to attend a virtual school and the blended learning center. For example:

  • One student, a high school senior, was the student body co-president of the learning center and a competing member of the chess club. He said he wasn’t doing well in the local public high school because he just didn’t care about school and was barely passing his classes. His grandmother enrolled him in AZVA and brought him to the Kingman Blended Learning Center, where he is excelling as a student and a growing leader.
  • Another student, a high school sophomore, attends the Kingman Blended Learning Center because his family felt there was too much violence and negativity in the local public middle school. His mother also shared that he learns at a different pace than other students and needed a school that would allow him to work at his own pace. He is a student at ISAZ and is succeeding in school now.

I heard many more inspiring stories about why families choose to attend AZVA or ISAZ, but it is easy to sum up the common theme. They needed a different education option for their student than what was otherwise available.

Mark Wyble, a history teacher at the Kingman Blended Learning Center, said he works there because he wanted to teach and help students where he can really make a difference. Students and families want to be where they feel like their needs are being met. This is why school choice is so important!

About The Author

Elizabeth Nelson

Elizabeth Nelson is the Head of School at Lonestar Online Academy. Prior to taking this leadership role, Elizabeth was the middle school and high school principal at Texas Online Preparatory School (TOPS). Elizabeth taught 8th grade math and was a Lead Master Teacher at Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA). Previously, Elizabeth taught math in Arizona and Indiana for 4.5 years.  She became a business owner and mother before ultimately realizing that teaching was her passion.  Elizabeth graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a minor in economics.  In 2009, she earned a second bachelor’s degree, this one in secondary math education. In 2014, she received a master of science in educational leadership from Ball State University. Elizabeth lives in Mesa, Arizona, with her husband and enjoys family time spent with their combined eight children. Elizabeth loves taking photos, math, adventures, learning, and spending time outdoors with her family.

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