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. The Connections Academy-supported Reach Cyber Charter School gave her the ability to merge her interests with her education, and Caroline couldn’t be happier about that.
“I was part of my family’s decision-making to join Reach Cyber. I started in September 2017 after having attended a private, parochial school. I wanted to stay at home more, do STEM activities, and hands-on projects. My school work 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 school work all day, but I soon realized that the teachers make it fun for me. The teachers 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 on 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. I like all the clubs I’ve joined because they are STEM-focused, and the teachers are excellent. 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 am a part of the local school district marching band, and they have practice three times a week. It is easier for me to get to practice on time because of online schooling. As long as I get all of my work done, I get to participate and go to competitions.
Travel is also important for my family and me. Last summer, I went to Tall Ships Camp on the Lettie G. Howard at the Erie Maritime Museum. Because I am at Connections Academy, I am able to go sailing more now and go on a great sailing trip in the Atlantic Ocean for two weeks during the school year. The school was very supportive of me going on this trip and approved my absence to go sailing.
Last year, I went on a three-week camping trip that included hiking, and sightseeing at 15 U.S. National Park Service sites in 16 states. Whenever I had Wi-Fi, I would sign into Connexus and check my webmail and complete a lesson or two. I worked ahead before we left, and did not have much catching up to do when we got back.
Reach Cyber and Connections Academy are helping me reach my goals. I’m only in seventh grade, but I already have money set aside for college because I won a $500 scholarship to Harrisburg University. I also won the Winter STEM Competition by making two Rube Goldberg Machines.
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.”