Caroline is a Pennsylvania middle school student who loves science, sailing, reading fantasy novels, and participating in extracurricular clubs. In her previous school, she wished she had more time to pursue those interests and include them more centrally in her education. Reach Cyber Charter School (Reach Cyber) has given her the ability to pursue her interests while also focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in online school.
“I was part of my family’s decision-making to join Reach Cyber. I started in February 2017 after going to a private, parochial school,” said Caroline. “But I wanted to stay at home more, do STEM activities, and hands-on projects. My schoolwork at Reach Cyber lets me do that, and that’s one of the things I like the most. I love the idea of flexibility and being able to choose the order in which I do my lessons.
“At first, I thought that I would have to sit at home for hours and do nothing but schoolwork all day, but I soon realized that the teachers make it fun for me. My teachers care about if I know the material, and they’re not just like, ‘Get it done.’ They give fun assignments and work. I like LiveLesson® sessions because we get to go on the webcam.”
And Caroline did not have to give up friendships or connecting with other students through clubs and activities. “I like Reach Cyber because of the flexibility of the lessons and the fact that even though I am in a virtual school, I still have friends. We have a ‘secret agent chat’ group of friends who talk a lot. We all met through LiveLesson sessions or field trips. I have Connections Academy® friends in Pennsylvania, Maine, Michigan, Texas, California, and even Spain. I like all the clubs I’ve joined because they are STEM focused, and the teachers are excellent. I am in a Raspberry Pi and coding class, which helps me learn coding and computer science. I want to study computer science in college, and this will help me. I get to explore things that interest me more. Independent study is fun because I can get credit for doing fun projects that I pick.
“I take breaks to practice my musical instruments, attend lessons, and participate in performance opportunities. I can take piano lessons earlier in the day when most other kids my age are in school. I am in a marching band in my school district. I am also in my community’s junior philharmonic, and I take private piano lessons. I play piano, flute, piccolo, clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, and oboe.
“I volunteer as a deckhand on the historical schooner Lettie G. Howard and help out with our local maritime museum. I actually get to volunteer as part of the crew for “school sails,” where students from the local brick-and-mortar schools come on the ship for a field trip, and do evening and weekend sails as well. In the winter, I participate in the sail training and maintenance program. Because I’m a Connections Academy student, I can crew on sails during the school day, and I have even taken time off from school to go on longer sails on the Atlantic Ocean and through the Great Lakes.
“Reach Cyber is helping me reach my goals. I am taking steps toward a STEM career through my courses, talks with a scientist, clubs, and contests. I’m learning a lot, but it is way more fun than having to sit around in a classroom all day. Reach Cyber has been perfect for me.”