As the daughter of an active-duty parent in the Navy, I grew up changing schools a lot. So, I know just how challenging moving and new schools can be. For most military families, moves can often involve cross-country or even international relocation. According to the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA), students with military parents move six-to-nine times over their K-12 career. I would say my experience was very close to this.
Now, as the principal of a Texas Connections Academy, I have experienced— firsthand— how an online education can play a big role in helping military families embrace change and maintain continuity for their students. In fact, I'm proud to say that over two hundred of our students are children of active military members!
The Life of a “Military Brat”
Being moved from school-to-school, military kids learn to fit in quickly. And it’s not just about academics; students also have to learn how to adjust socially. As transfer students, they didn’t grow up with the other kids in their school district. They also come with the stigma of being a “military brat” or being a “short-timer.” With this label, I knew military children who were glad to leave a school and start over, but most of the time it was heartbreaking for them to have to leave their new friends.
Academically, students may have additional challenges in that the curriculum differs from school to school; this leaves them either unprepared for tougher courses or bored because they have already covered the material. Also, missing credits can leave high school students who transfer scrambling to graduate. I moved from Texas to Florida between my eighth- and ninth-grade years. Many of the classes I was assigned to as a ninth grader covered the eighth-grade curriculum in Texas. So, although I had never been in advanced courses, I was reassigned to next-level classes shortly after I arrived.
How can Online School help Military Students Embrace Change?
Thinking about enrolling your military student in a virtual school? Here are the top three ways that online schools can help students maintain their grades, sense of continuity, and connections to friends and family no matter where they live!
1. Online School Gives Students a Sense of Consistency
Moving is bad enough without having to constantly change schools. In Texas, a new student is eligible to attend Texas Connections Academy if they are relocated to our state on military orders. State law also allows military students to stay enrolled in Texas Connections Academy after a family has moved out of state on military orders.
Note: Many states do not allow students to remain enrolled if they move out of state.
2. Online School Can Help Students Maintain Better Grades
With different curriculums, books, and teaching styles, it can be hard for many students to get into a solid learning groove. In fact, studies have shown that frequent moves and changes in schools have been associated with lower grades and a higher risk of dropping out.
Connections Academy’s self-directed learning encourages students to actively pursue their education on their terms with consistent lesson plans designed around their interests, styles of learning and schedule. And, if a family is transferred to another state with a Connections Academy-affiliated school they are less likely to experience the hiccups of a traditional school as long as they continue with the same Connections Academy program!
3. Online School Can Help Families Stay Connected
Military families can live hundreds or thousands of miles from their extended families. Online school allows them to have some scheduling flexibility to travel to see relatives while a parent is deployed. Another benefit is that virtual learning allows the deployed parent to check grades online, communicate with teachers, and review coursework.
About Principal Lockard
Lea Ann Lockard has been principal of Texas Connections Academy since 2009. Ms. Lockard’s mission is to build capacity through innovative instructional leadership. She is motivated by helping students and educators reach their greatest potential while she contributes to groundbreaking instructional reform efforts and continuous school improvement.
Ms. Lockard is active in the education field, speaking and presenting at local, state, and national conferences. A committed volunteer, she served four years as an EMT in rural communities, served two years on the Meadows Marlins Swim Team Board, and currently serves as chairman of the Spring Branch Public Safety Cooperative.