Sara Habernicht is a seventh grader at INSPIRE, the Idaho Connections Academy. She is dyslexic, and the traditional brick-and-mortar school environment was a challenge because there were frequent distractions from other students in the noisy classrooms, the class sizes were large, the schedule was inflexible, there was limited access to individualized attention, and there was a lack of diverse teaching approaches.
Looking for a place where Sara could thrive and discover her creative genius in new ways, Sara and her mom were impressed by the INSPIRE program. This is her second year in virtual school. When asked about her experience, she says, “I love, love, love it!” Sara tells her story in her own words below:
“I love INSPIRE because my mom gets to be my Learning Coach and I am in control of my schedule. I get to do the things I love during the day as part of my schooling. I also love that I can express myself creatively in many subjects. For someone with dyslexia, that means a lot and makes learning fun! Even though it takes me about five hours a day to do my lessons, I have learned so much and have found that I have a flare for making presentations in PowerPoint! The big thing is that it has taught me how to learn. Best of all, I love INSPIRE because I get to spend more time with my furry friends!
I am very passionate about all animals but especially horses. It’s pretty cool that I can use my fitness chart to track physical activities like riding and working with my horse and playing with my dog, Lucy. I schedule lessons around working with my horse and other animals. On rainy days I do more lessons, so on nice days I can ride. My best friends are homeschooled, and we loved riding horses together and doing other fun activities after our lessons. Even though some of my friends moved to Iowa, we stay in touch by texting, emailing, and sometimes plain old writing letters to each other.
My teachers are so friendly and approachable. They are open to all questions and are always happy to help me. My mom and I just recently moved to the Boise area from Twin Falls. INSPIRE helped make what would have been a stressful move an easy and exciting one. My classes, teachers, and classmates did not change. I am looking forward to meeting my teachers and classmates more frequently in person now that I live near Boise.”
Sara is looking forward to summer, but also another year in the INSPIRE program. “It was a bit of a struggle at first for both us,” says Sara’s mom. “We had to invent ways to create a structure to keep on track and had to adjust to new roles of Learning Coach and student, not just mother and daughter. But once we found what worked for us, we really began to enjoy the flexibility and the creative and accessible teachers. In addition, Sara’s IEP supports her learning, rather than being an interruption. Academically Sara is much further ahead, but I truly love that the INSPIRE program challenges her to learn life skills of self and time management at such an early age. Besides, I feel like I am getting a second education.”
I love INSPIRE because my mom gets to be my Learning Coach and I am in control of my schedule.