Two sisters from Nevada, Kaleigh and Danielle Fair, graduated from high school together the other day. As this touching video shows, the odds against these young women were extraordinary. Their school, Nevada Virtual Academy, and the teachers there evened those odds and made their journey together across the commencement stage and through their high school experience possible.
This example of how online schooling can give kids who are ill or injured a new way of learning while they heal is a story that teaches so much. For most of us, the sick kids in our hometowns fighting for their futures in hospitals and clinics are invisible to us. But when one of those sick kids is yours or is a kid you love, life changes and you see that every single thing that can make life “normal” for them is a blessing. Normal for kids means to be learning. When there are events and circumstances that make regular classroom instruction less than ideal they still need to be learning just like their peers. Online schools can make that happen, as it did for Kaleigh when she needed it most.
As a career pediatric nurse, I know well that this goal of normalcy while healing is very tough for parents and health care professionals to achieve for children. Pediatric care experts may prove to be strong advocates for online learning as a way to support parents in this essential effort.
The flexibility and individualization of online curriculums gives families a way to accommodate their goals and get on with learning, too. So, Danielle, could give her sister her time and her support using every day to be together each working on their own lesson plan as each was able. How could that have happened in any other kind of school? Learning didn’t suffer and neither did family or healing.
Kids need online schools. They need them for lots of reasons. The reasons deserve respect in our statehouses, in our schools of education, and in our school districts and state education offices. All too often these reasons are trivialized. And that’s not wise or responsible or fair.
The Fair sisters of Nevada show us just that so very well.