Highlight of a Virtual School Family: Wendy Howard

Long time school choice advocate, Wendy Howard, shares her story of virtual schooling with us today.  

Wendy’s daughter, Jessica, shares her mom’s passion for supporting choice in education, and when Jessica was just 7 years old she started a petition in Florida to urge legislators to remove the prior public school requirement before attending a virtual school. Jessica is an amazing young lady who works hard in encouraging change in legislation so all children will have fair and equal access to virtual education.  This is a great example of how Child Parent Power Matters and how their efforts helped to Increase Virtual Education Options in Florida!  Wendy and Jessica were instrumental in helping to create more choice for parents. Wendy is also the founding Chapter Chair for the Florida Chapter of the National Coalition For Public School Options and she serves on the Board of the National Coalition For Public School Options.

Enjoy Wendy’s story about how virtual schooling was a great fit for Jessica and their family.

My name is Wendy and my daughter Jessica was enrolled in K12’s iCademy (private) for grades 3 and 4.  We learned about the district Virtual Instructional Program (VIP) (public) when looking for school choice options for Jessica.  Unfortunately, she is blocked from the district VIP program due to a one year prior public school eligibility requirement.  She was not allowed the same opportunity as other children that have done their “seat time” for the same curriculum due to this eligibility requirement.

Jessica entered K12’s iCademy in third grade because she needed the flexibility and could continue her work that she began as a home school student in second grade to remove the unfair eligibility requirement for all children across the state of Florida.  Jessica was able to go to Tallahassee, traveling over four hours each way most weeks during the legislative session, to meet with lawmakers and testify before legislative committees in between her sessions with teachers and classmates. She would do her independent work in the hotel room at the end of the day.  In fourth grade, Jessica was able to continue our journey to change Florida’s virtual education law because of the flexibility of iCademy.  Jessica also worked twice a week with younger children at karate twice a week if we were in town, while working towards her black belt.  She was also able to be part of the children’s praise team at our church along with additional volunteer opportunities. 

On our journey, we met many families across the state that chose the public virtual education option or were blocked but wanted access to the public virtual option for many different reasons including more family time, children with serious health issues, children that had been bullied and children that were just simply gifted and needed to be challenged or those that struggled.  Although it’s not the right choice for every family; every family should have the opportunity to access this way of learning

Jessica was always eager to jump into sessions with her teachers and classmates.  At one point when Jessica was struggling with a concept, her teacher immediately scheduled a session to work one on one with Jessica until she understood and fully grasped that concept.  In her stronger subjects, she was able to move forward quickly so she had the additional time needed for subjects that didn’t come as easy. 

Virtual school has taught Jessica time management skills, which is a great life lesson.  She will be able to take these skills into her college and career years.  It taught her to balance her education with her commitments.  As her learning coach, I was able to work with Jessica and her teachers while still managing our family schedule in our room that we set up as her classroom.  Jessica did better reading on the couch, piecing together information for reports spread all over the floor and loved working on her own white board.  I knew that as her learning coach that I would need to dedicate a certain amount of time each day to ensure that she would be successful.

We found that the curriculum was challenging, fun and gave our family the flexibility we needed so we could continue our work to help all families gain access to a public virtual education program.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Wendy, and for your efforts to help ensure that virtual schools become an option for all families. You are one amazing lady!

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