Wendy Oleksinski is a High School Advisor at Georgia Cyber Academy and a K12 Teacher Ambassador.
National Dropout Prevention month is now behind us and it’s a good time to reflect on its meaning. Do you remember your high school graduation ceremony? Can you still feel the pride associated with closing the earliest educational chapters of your lives and embarking on the path toward your future?
For some students in Georgia, that is an experience they may never have in their lifetime. According to a press release from the Georgia Department of Education, the state’s graduation rate for 2015 was 78.8 percent. What motivates some young people to stick with school and successfully follow their dreams? One educator at Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA), Joan Wilson, shares her family’s story of how attending GCA changed their life and moved them all along the road to better things.
“Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) has been an important part of my family’s life. Because of my varied experience with multiple schools as a child, I decided I wanted to provide more stability and personal involvement in my own children’s education. I feared it would be too difficult to make sure they were in a good school district with consistent education regardless of our location. That decision to put my children first led to me homeschooling and choosing to be a stay-at-home mom, regardless of the financial hardship it included.
In 2009, I heard of GCA. Both children (and myself) adjusted to the new way of online schooling. We enjoyed attending the school outings that provided the opportunity to meet other families and teachers in our school. We loved end of year in-person testing, as that was an added occasion for interaction. My children understood my passion for education and adopted that passion for themselves.
My son, Ian, was part of the second graduating class at GCA, the Class of 2015. He was accepted at Kennesaw State University and is currently a sophomore. Ruthana, currently a junior at GCA, has thrived also. She participates in the dual enrollment programs and currently takes Spanish with GCA while attending Kennesaw State. The plan is to have as much college credit as possible when she gets her high school diploma—and possibly an associate’s degree– in 2018.”
Joan now works for Georgia Cyber Academy as part of the Family Academic Support Team (FAST). During her time working with the school, she has had the opportunity to aid other families and support them through this format of schooling. She transitioned to an advisor role in 2015 and worked solely with seniors. During this time, she researched how best to motivate seniors to graduate and understand the value of a high school diploma for their future.
Joan explains, “The Hope Scholarship offers opportunities for students with good grades, but if they don’t have those grades, the Hope Grant is an amazing opportunity to get state aid just by earning their diploma.” Joan adds that the value of educating her children with GCA and the personal enrichment from working with its families is immeasurable.