Karen and Philip especially value that Great Lakes Cyber Academy offers all types of subjects and class options, a variety of field trips, and parent involvement, and also that their son can enroll in the three-year program so he can graduate from high school early.
There were several reasons for enrolling our oldest son in Great Lakes Cyber Academy. We were very unhappy with the way our local school district was being run, where the emphasis was studying for the various standardized tests, i.e., MEAP, and getting the banners and accolades about being a ”Blue Ribbon” school rather than focusing on teaching the students to read, write, analyze, and creatively solve problems. Also, it was the 4–6 hours of homework every night, including weekends and holidays, that, when looked at, was more busywork that had to be turned in for a grade. Our thought was, if someone had learned the subject and was comfortable with and could demonstrate competency in a smaller number of math problems or brief remarks, then busywork should not have been required.
Secondly, our son has learning disabilities, which means he takes longer to really learn and become comfortable with the subject being taught. While the resource teachers in elementary school were wonderful and very focused on helping the students learn both methods and strategies to read, write, and solve problems, the resource teachers in middle school were not as helpful as we thought they should or could be. Our son struggled through language arts and math before we mainstreamed him in math during his last year of middle school. It is not that he is not intelligent; on the contrary, he is very intelligent. The issue was that, in middle school, he continued to advocate for himself and would be asking three or four questions of the teachers. Because they were really challenged on how to answer and that was a huge frustration for them, the outcome was not always pleasant.
After looking at a number of schooling options, including talking with administrators from a number of online schools, we and our son determined that Great Lakes Cyber Academy (GLCA) offered the type of program that he would be most comfortable with and that would meet his list of wants and needs. It was an online school that was chartered through a major Michigan university, and it’s recognized as a Michigan school that meets Michigan education requirements. We, as parents, could be more intimately involved in his schooling and help him learn in a much more positive environment: home. Also, GLCA offered all of the types of subjects and class options that my son is interested in learning about, and the semester schedule was flexible so as to allow the students to learn and participate around scheduled things like doctor’s appointments and vacations. The large number of field trips and the variety of field trip topics was something that enticed the entire family, as we believe that seeing other things, places, and events is an integral part of the learning process, no matter the age of the participant. Also, our son chose to be enrolled in the three-year program so he could graduate from high school early. Having an assigned resource counselor, one who advocates for our son and with whom he has weekly discussions to work through issues and concerns, is a much better setup; it works well for our son.