Jessy Miller, a high schooler who lives in the Miami Valley, enrolled as a student at Ohio Connections Academy (OCA) in 2017 in search of a more challenging and less distracting learning environment. A friend who’d enrolled in OCA in the previous school year recommended the school, and Jessy thought it might be a good fit. Jessy’s father, Rick, who wasn’t familiar with online education, was a little skeptical at first. Following a few conversations with other OCA parents, he realized he needed to be more open-minded.
This wasn’t the first time Jessy opened her dad’s eyes to new or different things. Jessy discovered a passionate interest in NASCAR, and as a frequent user of social media, she would post comments about racing and some of her favorite drivers. In 2016 the publishers at NASCARFemale.com, a national blog for female NASCAR fans, contacted Jessy and asked if she would write for the website. Rick recalls watching races with Jessy. He watched as her interest in the sport grew, yet he wasn’t sure what it meant to write a blog. He appreciated how much Jessy wanted to do it and figured it would be okay as long as it didn’t interfere with school.
“My dad had races on all the time, and it never really interested me. Then he got me to join his NASCAR fantasy league,” Jessy said. “Then one day I couldn’t take my eyes off the monitor and realized I was hooked. In 2016 I beat my dad and his friends in the league.”
Today Jessy not only writes for the site but also helps manage the content and edits articles from more than thirty contributing writers. She also worked with the website creators to build another page featuring some of the younger up-and-coming drivers.
Because of NASCARFemale.com, Jessy said she’s had the opportunity to meet a lot of people from the NASCAR world and many fellow race fans. She feels she has become a better writer and has learned different computer and reporting skills. She’s now looking forward to turning eighteen, at which time she will be old enough to get credentials to work in the media center at NASCAR races.
Jessy recently started her own site, Jessynmiller.com, to cover more topics related to NASCAR and maybe expand into other sports. She is considering giving hockey a try. “I love racing, but thinking about it all day and all night gets exhausting after a couple of years, so I thought it would be cool to add a new change of pace,” she said.
Given the time it takes to plan, write, and edit a blog, Jessy and her father appreciate the flexibility Ohio Connections Academy provides. Even though it has taken some time to adjust to the online environment and the curriculum, Jessy believes she’s found the best fit. “Since I go to OCA, my schedule works around me. I can do work for a few classes and periodically check to see if there are any articles for the blog to edit as a quick break from school,” Jessy said.
It’s no surprise that with her work on NASCARFemale.com, Jessy’s favorite class is journalism. She said her teacher, Ms. Lamb, is very supportive, and she loves the creative freedom she and her classmates get for their projects. “The only thing I would change is having the class every day instead of a few times a week.
“Honestly, I love everything about Ohio Connections Academy. I don’t have to get up at 6:00 a.m. to go to school. I can listen to music while I work on projects. The teachers are very patient, and they encourage you to ask questions,” Jessy said. “At OCA I can work out my day a little bit at a time. Nothing feels rushed anymore, and for once I actually enjoy school.”
Jessy’s dad concurs. “In the more traditional school environment, Jessy got exceptional grades, but it didn’t seem she had to work all that hard,” Rick said. “At OCA I see her having to put in the extra time and effort, so I have to think it’s more of a challenge.”
Jessy plans to graduate a semester early next year and hopes to work in an internship until college starts in the fall. She’s not sure where she will go to college, but she does know that she wants to continue reporting on races at the tracks, where she can be close to all the action.
Because I'm enrolled at OCA, my schedule works around me. I can do work for a few classes and periodically check to see if there are any articles for the blog to edit as a quick break from school.