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This week we here at K12 are celebrating National School Choice Week (January 22-28), which gives us the chance to champion a cause that is near and dear to our hearts, the ability for parents to choose the best schooling option for their children. Throughout this week, at least 21,000 events are expected to take place in celebration of school choice across the country, including more than 35 events from our schools alone. 

As we highlight our amazing students on BloggED this week, keep in mind that it’s school choice that has allowed them the opportunity to attend a virtual school. Not all parents are able to choose what school their child will attend and may be missing out on an incredible opportunity to see them shine.

We invite you to join us in sharing why you support school choice by using the hashtag #K12supportsNSCW on your social media channels throughout the week. 

Jenn Alvey has taught her three sons to never stop believing in their dreams.

The Alvey family has been a part of the K12 community for the past six years, as all three sons are either current Utah Virtual Academy (UTVA) students or alumni. Her youngest son, Travis, has autism and has found the virtual environment very helpful for his learning style. He is now in 12th grade.

“Our experience has been great!” Jenn said. “I feel my son’s teachers listen to me about my son’s needs. Whenever we run into a problem, they are there to make things right.”

Jenn pulled Travis out of a brick-and-mortar school in the middle of sixth grade because he was falling behind academically. The teachers were overwhelmed with the other students and felt they could not give him the attention he needs.

The turning point for Jenn came when Travis came home from school one day and wanted to shave off all of his hair because bullies told him washing his hair wouldn’t get rid of germs.

“I had enough,” Jenn said. “That is when I decided to enroll him in UTVA. I wanted my son to feel safe, and I wanted him to be able to learn. Now he is finally able to focus better, because it is on his level of understanding. He needed one-on-one help in public school, but they would not give that to him. So being able to school him at home through UTVA has taken away a lot of those stressors so that he is able to learn and grow academically.”

Travis has been doing wonderfully in the virtual setting. He feels more comfortable and is already doing better academically.

“It’s just nicer to do it at home, because there are no bullies,” Travis said.

Jenn appreciates how the class connects are recorded so that Travis can watch them later if they have a therapy session scheduled during that time.

“It makes things a lot easier for us, because we do have a very busy life,” Jenn said. “I also love how there are different curriculum options for students with autism. His curriculum is a special needs curriculum that UTVA implemented last year for those who have learning disabilities.”

UTVA has been a safe haven for Travis. He doesn’t have to worry about being bullied anymore, and he has everything he needs learn right in front of him.

Travis is still learning how to socialize and has made friends through school and therapy sessions.

As Travis’ interest for school has re-sparked, so has his interest for science class at UTVA. “He likes science experiments,” Jenn said. “They seem to fascinate him, especially anything to do with the weather.”

He also has a passion for editing and making movies.  “His dream is to make a full-length stuffed animal movie, and show it at a movie theater someday,” Jenn said.

Jenn identifies herself as a fighter and survivor because she put everything she has into making sure her sons live a life they love. In addition to Travis, Jenn’s oldest son, Jonathan, was also bullied at brick and mortar school and struggled with depression.

“I keep going for my family,” she said. “I have to be strong for them and fight for what is right for them because they need me. I have had to fight for things they need and be their voice. Our struggles have made me a stronger person.”

The positive example she sets day-to-day has influenced her oldest sons. Jonathon, 22, now lives in Goodsprings, Nevada, and is the town historian and works at a historic saloon. Kyler, 21, works at a TV station in Salt Lake City and goes to school at the University of Utah. They both attended UTVA for their senior years of high school and received high honors. Kyler gave a speech at his graduation about reaching for your dreams.

“My advice to other parents is to never give up,” Jenn said. “Do what you feel is best for your child, because you know them best, and you know their needs best. Parents are their child’s first teacher, and they understand how their child learns best.”

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