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Reece Russell knows how lonely being the victim of bullying can be. When he was in first grade, classmates at his brick-and-mortar school kicked him, wrote negative messages about him on the bathroom walls, and intentionally isolated him during recess. Reece pleaded with his parents to make a change because he didn’t have friends at school and no one wanted to play with him. Reece’s mom Heather enrolled him in Texas Virtual Academy at Hallsville (TVAH). Because of online school, Reece is continuing his education in a safe and welcoming environment that encourages him to be the best he can be.

Now in third grade, Reece is excelling in his studies. He enjoys the learning style of the online classroom much more than traditional school.

“I feel like the teachers explain the lessons more and I’m able to go to small groups for learning rather than waiting on everyone in the class to finish,” said Reece.

Heather adds that Reece can speak out about his lessons without fear of harassment or ridicule from classmates. Most importantly, she says, Reece isn’t “pressured to follow the pack to fit in” but can freely be himself.

For parents who have children facing bullying, being attentive to their emotions and need is important, Heather notes.

“Listen to your kids,” she said. “If you notice that your typically happy child is now combative and sad, ask questions.”

One of Reece’s favorite things about TVAH is meeting his classmates during school outings. He’s met students from across the state and participates in several extracurricular activities, like the Lego and DIY (Do It Yourself) Clubs. Reece says he enjoys participating in these because they’re unique.

“I like the projects I’ve worked on and showing the things that I make with other kids my age,” he said.

Thanks to TVAH, Reece’s outlook on school has significantly improved, too. His teachers allow him to work at his own pace and focus on the material of the lessons. He’s currently ahead in his literature classes and can get extra support from his teachers when he needs it.

The freedom to tailor Reece’s education to his specific needs is important to his family. However, equally important is Reece’s safety and happiness.

Through Reece’s experience with bullying, he’s learned how important it is to talk to an adult and get help. He encourages other students who are facing the same situation to do the same.

“Talk to your parents,” he said. “Don’t listen to the rude comments, accusations or anything else a bully says.”

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