Highlight of a Virtual School Family: Alisa Hug

Alisa Hug is sharing her virtual school experiences with us today.

Alisa, aka Lisa, is Mom and Learning Coach to 2 children in grades 6 and 8 who are enrolled in their first year with Georgia Connections Academy. Enjoy Lisa’s story as she shares about her 4 years with Colorado Virtual Academy and 1 ½ years with Georgia Cyber Academy.

Our Virtual Schooling Story

Beginning the 2005-2006 school year, Colorado Virtual Academy was the first virtual school the children were enrolled in, in grades K and 3.

We heard about Colorado Virtual Academy from some friends at church and decided to give it a try. Our 3rd grader had been attending a brick and mortar school since 1st grade and was excited to experience virtual schooling at home. Being that our youngest child was entering Kindergarten, the timing seemed perfect.

Over the next four years in Colorado Virtual Academy, our youngest child continued to thrive in the flexible environment that the program provided. Our oldest child went back to brick and mortar school a couple times, but eventually came back to Colorado Virtual Academy in 6th grade after a bullying incident on a school trip.

In March 2009, our family moved to the Atlanta, GA area. Because it was the middle of the 2nd semester, enrollment was not open at Georgia Cyber Academy; one of the girls attended brick and mortar middle school for two weeks and ended up homeschooling the remainder of the school year, and the other attended brick and mortar for the remainder of the school year.

During this time, I was looking for more options. I was grateful that Georgia Cyber Academy existed but it was the only virtual school in Georgia. In July 2009, I was invited to attend an informational meeting about Georgia Connections Academy, which had not yet opened. After attending this meeting, I joined the Board of Directors of Georgia Connections Academy; the Board’s goal was to open a school the following school year (2010-2011).

While I was part of the effort to open Georgia Connections Academy, the girls remained in Georgia Cyber Academy. We were not successful in opening Georgia Connections Academy right away, but in June 2011, our charter was granted and the Board proceeded with plans to open the school for the 2011-2012 school year.

Both girls currently attend Georgia Connections Academy.

A Typical Day in our Virtual Schooling Experience

Our days begin much like other families’ days, with the exception of starting at a set time. We love the flexibility that we have to start at 8 AM or 10 AM, or even later. Typically, both girls will log into their student learning system online and complete four to five subject lessons in a school day. They take a break for lunch and are usually finished early in the afternoon, hours before a brick and mortar student. The girls are enrolled in grade-appropriate courses in core subjects (Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science), as well as in Art, Online Technology, and Health/PE. They have the option of taking elective courses such as foreign languages.

Field Trips and Outings

Georgia Connections Academy has had several field trips already this school year, and plan field trips or outings not only for the entire school but also for middle school and elementary school and for specific classes or subjects. At the beginning of the school year, there was a school-wide bowling event where we got to meet our teachers and administrators, as well as other students and their families.

Georgia Connections Academy offers several types of clubs that students can be involved in if interested.

Teacher vs. Learning Coach

One myth about virtual schooling is that it is the same as homeschooling. While it offers the flexibility that homeschooling offers, it also offers a structured curriculum with teacher involvement.

Georgia Cyber Academy, which currently serves grades K-8, has a principal and teachers, just like a brick and mortar school. What I love about my role with virtual schooling is that I am not the teacher – the one choosing and implementing the curriculum and grading work. I am a learning coach, more like a guide to lead the girls through their lessons and studies. Most times I am able to help with questions and concepts, but when I am unable to, the teacher is just a phone call or email away.

Another really cool thing about Georgia Connections Academy (Georgia Cyber Academy also uses a similar concept) is Live Lessons. In a Live Lesson, a teacher opens a virtual classroom, which students can log into, for the purpose of teaching a concept or specific lesson from the curriculum. So, the students still get interaction with their teachers and other students.

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