Here's a great write-up from KC Holm on their experience with online school. Thank you KC for putting this together!
The Option of Online School for Ski Racers
We all know that ski racing is a tough sport to balance with school, especially when a racer gets to higher levels in the sport and begins to travel extensively. School administrators often have a difficult time approving 50+ absences in a given year. Yet, this is the norm for high school aged kids who pursue the sport with vigor. Many parents find that sending the racer to an academy is the only option for the student to work out the ski-racing and school balance. Other people find that using online school options can achieve the same objectives.
Our family has looked at these choices, and we have decided to pursue the online high school option. Alan wanted me to write up an explanation about how this works, so here it goes...
In the middle of Katie's Sophomore year, she was invited to a training trip to Croatia with the Western Region. This trip would add another ten days to her already high number of days missed in the year. The administrators at Katie's school have always been extremely supportive of her pursuits in racing, but it's tough to keep up with the class and to get the material from the teachers as necessary when traveling this much. We decided to switch her to online school at the semester break. We looked at many online schools and found the prices and curricula to vary quite a lot. I spoke to the Director of the Picabo Street Academy in Park City about which online school they use, and I learned that Apex is their school of choice. Apex has a reputation for providing a demanding curriculum, and it is NCAA approved. Since graduating from an NCAA program provides the athlete with the option of racing in college, that is the better choice. We spoke with our Vice Principal about getting started with Apex.
Sumner High School has coordinated all of the details for Katie's online school programming. Since SHS has an online classroom where many students go to take classes for credit recovery (or various other reasons), they already have the infrastructure to support a student's learning in this manner. Most of the online students at Sumner High only do one or two classes online, but the supervisor and the desk-top computers are there all the time. The supervisor helps the students to plan their schedules and to keep on track with the pace of the classes. She also helps the students to coordinate their classes with the school's counselors. She is not a teacher, however, so the students have a lot of work learning the material much more on their own than they would with a teacher in a classroom.
The online courses have teachers, of course, but since all matters are communicated online, this is the tricky area for teenagers. Asking the right questions requires a high level of communication and sometimes the answers come back a day later. These are challenges that we are still working through. Tutors and Kahn Academy are two great methods to learn more about the subject areas. For Katie, in-person tutors work the best, so we schedule those as needed.
We feel so lucky that our school facilitates such a terrific option for Katie. They have been so helpful! Katie is still a student at SHS, so she still goes to school whenever she's not traveling. She can go to dances, play a high school sport, and have the high school experience while living at home with mom and dad. She can sign herself in and out at school, so we don't have to deal with arranging absences and the like. Since I mentioned that the online schools have costs associated with them (above), I should mention that Sumner High has taken on that cost for us as well.
One final note is that Sumner switched from Apex to EdOptions, so that's what Katie uses now. These two platforms offer the same type of schedule -- two classes at a time, completing a semester's worth of material in a 7-week period -- and they are both NCAA approved. Katie finds them to be equally challenging.
I hope this write-up helps other CMAC parents who may be considering non-traditional schooling options for their racers. We have been very pleased.