Highlight of a Virtual School Family: Amy Johnson

Today our virtual school family comes to us from Arizona.

Amy Johnson is a fellow blogger and author of The Adventures of JAMC.  Amy shares some great posts on her blog about School Successes as well as School Troubles.  Today Amy shares about her experience with the virtual school, Arizona Virtual Academy, where both of her boys are currently enrolled.

Welcome Amy, and thanks for sharing with us why your online school is such an important public school option for your family.

Just last year both of my sons were in a public brick and mortar school.  My youngest son was actually having a great experience.  He was in Kindergarten and happened to get a wonderful teacher who really worked hard for him.  My oldest son, however, was having a horrible time with school.  In order for you to understand this story a little better, I should let you know that both of my sons are diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a high functioning type of autism.  This causes them to have a lot of trouble in social situations, and school can be one of the most stressful parts of their life.  Through Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade we struggled with school for my oldest.  Our main issue, sadly, was the teachers.  If my son misbehaved, he would have to go sit in a “time out” room…which was really just a closet.  Or they would put him in a classroom by himself and just stand there and watch him, then send me home pages of notes on what he had done wrong.  As you can imagine, he wasn’t learning much.  We went through a pattern of him being suspended for ridiculous things, and me coming to pick him up only to find him locked in that closet.  The things they were doing were wrong, and it was greatly affecting my son’s learning.  I knew he could be difficult to deal with, but they wouldn’t listen to my suggestions, and the administrators were backing the teachers.  We couldn’t move, we couldn’t afford private school…it was all becoming a nightmare.  I had to do something.

I had heard about Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) before, and I wondered if it would be something I could do.  After researching other schooling options, I decided online school just might work for us.  I pulled my oldest out of school last March, quit my job, and enrolled him in AZVA.  We have never looked back.  As I started to teach my son at home, I realized that, because of what was going on in school, he had missed a lot of key lessons in reading and writing.  With the flexibility I had with AZVA, I could mold the lessons to fit in those extra things that he needed.  We started making progress in his learning.  Suddenly, without the pressures and anxiety caused by a horrible school situation, we were seeing a happier kid.  He was more animated and less aggressive and angry.  It was like a miracle!  Though teaching a special needs child at home IS really difficult, I found that the curriculum was easy to figure out, and that being a learning coach was a really easy role for me to step into.  The curriculum is more interesting to my son than what he was learning in his previous school.  After testing out AZVA last spring, my child happily agreed that we should do it again this year.  My youngest child wanted to join us, too, so we enrolled him and started off this year with them both in AZVA. My boys are also both able to still continue to get the special education accommodations that they need, and we can always kmail or call their teachers if we need any help.  It’s been such a different and much more positive experience, and my boys actually enjoy learning.  The fact that they get to do science and art (which they weren’t doing in their old schools) is exciting to them, and they find the math lessons fun.  I could go on and on because we’ve truly been so happy with the K12 program.  I won’t say that being a learning coach is easy every day.  There are definitely challenges, just like with anything else.  But after seeing how my sons have responded to the program, and with the relief of not having to deal with our school district any more, it’s all been worth it.  It’s something we really need, and we hope to be able to continue online schooling for many years.

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  1. Thanks for sharing your story today, Amy. Like you, I’m grateful for the public school options that are available to us in our state. I only hope that some day very soon, this effective online schooling option becomes available to every child in every state.

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