Originally published in the Dayton Daily News – August 27, 2018
August is back-to-school month for most local families as they rush to get supplies, new clothes and backpacks for the first day. But for the Hale family in Franklin, back to school means something entirely different after their son Isaac, 7, completed his first year at Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA), an online public community school.
“With everything going on in the world today, we were absolutely terrified to send Isaac to public school,” said Trisha Hale, Isaac’s mom.
Trisha and her husband, Tim, graduated from traditional public school systems; Trisha from Lakota High School and Tim from Springboro. And until recently, they never thought of alternatives.
“We moved to Xenia and Isaac was going to be starting kindergarten,” Trisha said. “They could never tell us which school he was going to attend because we were right on the border.”
Trisha decided that if Isaac couldn’t attend the public school she preferred, she would look alternatives. She started researching and asked a friend whose child had been home schooled his entire school career.
“She didn’t regret a day,” Trisha said. “I had a first-hand account from someone whose child was very intelligent and had no problem socializing or competing in the outside world.”
Trisha had her own business when Isaac was bom, but after having another son and a set of twins, she decided to focus on raising her family. This offered a perfect opportunity for home schooling.
“I saw a commercial (for OHVA) and called,” Trisha said. “They were very willing to accommodate and give us anything we needed.”
Once the family moved to Franklin and Isaac was enrolled to begin kindergarten at OHVA, he was sent a computer and all the needed school supplies. OHVA also has certified teachers and Isaac received a lot of individual attention. By the end of his kindergarten year, he was reading fluently and scoring above his grade level in all areas.
“I can’t give his teacher enough credit,” Trisha said. “He really struggled in the beginning but by the end of the year, he was reading a 60-page book all by himself. ” Trisha said they particularly like the flexibility the school offers since Isaac spends a lot of time swimming, playing basketball and baseball and taking karate classes, his primary focus.
Class times are set, so Isaac must be in front of his computer during those times. But he can do his out of-class work at any time. And since Trisha said he tends to have more energy later in the evening, this flexibility also helps Isaac succeed.
“Once he gets his work completed, Isaac can be done for the year,” Trisha said. “He has the summer off like other kids, but they don’t have a set lunch period or playground time, so the school day is naturally shorter.”
As for the need for socialization, Trisha said her son has no difficulty making friends and, with his many activities, he gets plenty of time to socialize. OHVA also offers online clubs for older students.
“I’m sure Isaac will join everything under the sun,” Trisha said. “He is very outgoing, and he thinks he is Superman!” Trisha and Tim sing the praises of Isaac’s teacher last year, Susan Maple, who gave Isaac, who was struggling noticeably at the beginning of the year, the personal attention he needed to learn how to read.
“I really thought there might be some learning disability,” Trisha said. “But his teacher worked with him on letter sounds until it just clicked for him.”
And Isaac couldn’t be happier with his online school.
“My teacher got me to settle down so I could learn,” Isaac said. “At first my mom had to help me, but suddenly I was changed, and my teacher brought me out of it – like magic!” Trisha and Tim both hope their now first-grader will end up with a career that allows their son to set his own hours, since this has made all the difference.
“Teachers in public school don’t have the time to work with kids one on one,” Trisha said. “I know a lot of kids like Isaac get overlooked. We appreciate what the school is able to give him.”
To learn more about Ohio Virtual Academy, visit http://ohva.k12.com.