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Each week the teachers at my school have the honor of calling to check on our families.  We work very hard to make sure that each family is contacted weekly.  You might ask how this is possible with all the many responsibilities we have as teachers.  Each week our staff at the middle school and high school levels uses a calling plan.  We work to call the students on our list each week.  By the end of the month we have personally contacted each one of our students.  Each family has also gotten phone calls or contacts weekly by one of their many certified teachers.  Advisors also work to call families for extra support in our Family Academic Support Team (FAST) program weekly.

Calling families is the highlight of my week.  We find out important information to get to know our families and students better.  We learn about why virtual school has become a good option for their personal lives.  We learn more about our students’ personalities, struggles, battles and successes.  We get to laugh and cry with our students.  We learn what our students are passionate about and what motivates them.  We learn their dreams and goals for the future.

I have heard the concern from public schools that online education is trying to “take over” or “replace” the brick-and-mortar educational system.  I have taught in both environments and I can tell you that most of our families are living life and responding to many different scenarios and circumstances.  I loved my time working in brick-and-mortar public schools.  I’m thankful for what they do for children and families.

In response to those that are skeptical, I would say that I have also seen that a partnership between the public schools and online education can be very rewarding and successful for students.  It gives them the chance to pick up graduation credits to be able to graduate on time.  It allows them opportunity for different electives and courses that may not have been offered in one or the other of the schools.  We give students the opportunity to take concurrent enrollment classes for both high school and college credit at the same time.   It also allows them the freedom to learn and to be involved in the activities that they are passionate about, especially if those activities required a lot of travel.

I have also seen firsthand  that online education has become such a blessing for many families because of what their family is going through.  Here are just a few situations I have seen where online school has served families in a way where kids can still learn and stay on track to graduate amidst impossible circumstances:

  • We serve a student that lost her mother.  Her father is a truck driver, and she is now able to travel with him and still do school from the road.
  • We have a full-time student that is also a full-time dad and full-time worker.  He is able to work towards graduation while he takes care of his little girl.
  • We have teen moms that are able to stay home with their babies while they work towards graduation.
  • We have a student who chose to stay home and help her mother, who has very advanced multiple sclerosis.  She can assist her mom while she works to get her diploma.
  • We have students that have medical concerns that prevent them from being mobile.
  • We have students that are non-speaking or non-hearing.  They are able to participate well within the live class connect sessions with their peers.
  • We have families that are stricken with cancer – either a parent or student – and the family is able to travel for treatment and work on school at the same time.
  • We have military families that are able to stay within the same school and not have to adjust to new schools every time they move, including students who are on a military base in another country, for a parent’s temporary assignment overseas.
  • We have parents that are trying to better themselves with lengthy professional trainings or college stays and they are able to take their kids with them while they train or work on degrees.

No matter what the circumstance or situation, we give families a choice.  We give them hope that no matter what life brings, their child can still have a quality education.  Their child can still have social interaction with other students.  Students can feel a part of something.  Students can be ‘known’ and feel ownership over their learning and their successes.  And most of all, they know they are loved and cared for by not only their families but their K12 teachers.  I’m thankful for the options we give families!

About The Author

Jennifer Schultze

Jennifer Schultze teaches music in grades 7-12 and serves as an advisor to high school students at Wyoming Virtual Academy (WYVA). Prior to joining WYVA in July 2008, Jennifer was a general music teacher, high school choir director and middle school band director for eight years. Jennifer graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in music education. In 2006 she received a master’s of science in curriculum, instruction and assessment from Walden University.  In addition, she is a concurrent professor for Eastern Wyoming College.  Jennifer lives in Buffalo, Wyoming, with her husband, who is a deputy sheriff, and their five children. Jennifer loves coffee, reading, blogging, and spending time with her family.

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