Joel Medley, Head of School for NCVA, The Fayetteville Observer
As America marks National School Choice Week, North Carolina can look to the Thompson family from Benson as a shining example of why education options for students and families are so important.
Tammy Thompson has three daughters at North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA) and they are perfect examples of why school choice is imperative.
Five years ago, Tammy Thompson and her husband adopted three sisters who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as disciplinary issues, as a result of an unusual upbringing by their biological parents. The pain still comes out day-to-day in different forms, including meltdowns and ongoing anxiety.
After searching for alternative possibilities for a learning environment that would suit their needs, they found the answer in Spring 2015. The Thompsons received a phone call from a friend that NCVA was opening. Learning was transformed for the girls from that point forward.
The online aspect of NCVA allowed the Thompsons to closely manage their daughters’ lessons with the full support of state-certified teachers who are available via phone, email and virtual classroom technology. The school hosts quarterly outings where I was able to meet them while touring the U.S.S. North Carolina battleship. The teachers even checked in on the family during Hurricane Matthew, which hit the Thompsons hard last fall.
Learning at home allows each of the girls to have their own physical space where they can move around, go to the bathroom, get something to drink and not be so confined. Thus, the Thompsons have seen a significant improvement in their daughters’ behavior and they have regular contact with teachers and counselors during challenging times.
With this option to the traditional public school model, Ashlyn, Savannah and Abigail are able to receive an education that allows them to thrive.
Support for school choice exists across the political spectrum and is rooted in the firm belief that parents know their children best. As the head of school for NCVA, I know that K12 Inc., the company that powers our school and others like it across the country, works hard to put students first and knows that parents are putting their children first every day.
I respect parent choice in education because I firmly believe children can succeed when placed in a supportive environment that suits their individual needs. Those personal beliefs are deeply rooted as my own son now attends NCVA. I have witnessed success firsthand for the Thompson Family and many others that have chosen the virtual model.
I am firmly committed to increasing education options for families, from online and blended charter schools, to innovative digital learning programs offered through school districts nationwide.
Children are the leaders of tomorrow. Therefore we must do everything we can to give them the best education possible. A critical element toward achieving this goal is expanding school choice for all families and increasing the number of success stories for children like Ashlyn, Savannah and Abigail across the country.
Joel Medley is head of school for North Carolina Virtual Academy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org