Ariane Joskow is a graduate of Wyoming Connections Academy (WYCA). She lives in Cody, Wyoming, with her family. When Ariane’s accelerated learning outpaced what her traditional bricks-and-mortar school could offer, her parents turned to Connections Academy to keep their gifted and talented student engaged in her education. Her father shares Ariane’s story below.
"Ariane started reading at three-and-a-half-years-old. While we traveled various roads in Wyoming and Montana, she would also count freight cars (sometimes in excess of 100 per train) as they were passing by. When counting freight cars became less challenging, she and her mother would count them in Spanish.
Ariane started school as a five-year-old kindergartener, attending a small rural school where kindergarten and first grade were in one classroom. Second and third grades shared a classroom, as did fourth and fifth grades. Because of Ariane’s reading skills, she was sent to the fourth and fifth grade classroom for reading. Ariane’s math skills were a bit slower to mature, so she was sent to the second and third grade classroom for math. Ariane was tested and identified as gifted, and she began participating in the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs in our district. At the end of kindergarten, she was promoted to the second grade.
In second grade, Ariane continued reading with the fifth grade and doing math with the fourth grade. By the end of second grade, a meeting of district administrators, teachers, Ariane’s mother, me, and the Gifted and Talented program director (armed with Ariane’s results from an extensive test battery) was convened to discuss ‘what to do with Ariane.’ The decision was unanimous: ‘Promote her to the fourth grade.’
Once Ariane started middle school, the ‘powers that be’ attempted to fit her into a pigeonhole they understood. After our many protests and several meetings, we retained an attorney to represent Ariane’s interests and protect her rights while we started looking for alternatives to ‘the system.’ After Ariane’s first year at middle school, she was enrolled in Connections Academy.
Ariane’s mother and I selected WYCA because Mr. Kolb presented the school’s programs far better than the representative from the other virtual school. Mr. Kolb and the Connections Academy team admirably lived up to our expectations.
In a nutshell, Connections Academy allowed and encouraged Ariane to grow at a pace that Ariane selected, rather than trying to slow her down to accommodate the educators’ abilities to teach, as the bricks-and-mortar middle school did.
In her free time, Ariane loves playing with her puppy dogs. She is an avid hiker and alpine skier. She participates in archery, shoots pistol and rifle, and is learning about shooting skeet and trap. Ariane is also a competitive swimmer. She competed in USA Swimming competitions and swam with our local bricks-and-mortar high school girls’ varsity swim team.
In USA Swimming, she achieved a Top 5 state award in her age group for the mile freestyle swim. At an awards weekend held at the beginning of the winter season, Ariane got to meet Kate Zeigler, two-time Olympian, four-time world champion, and holder of the 1,500-meter freestyle world record. Ariane attended a clinic run by Kate.
In high school swimming, Ariane qualified for four individual events in the 3A division. She finished the season by earning her varsity letter for the second year in a row, finished third in the 500-yard freestyle at the conference level, and finished fifth in the 500-yard freestyle at the state level, where she achieved a personal best of 5:58.73."
What I like most about WYCA is the flexibility of my schedule and being allowed to work at my own pace.