Columbia, SC — Several years ago, an eager fourth-grader named James and his parents walked into my office and inquired about enrolling in S.C. Connections Academy. I listened intently as James and his sister described the life-threatening food allergies that forced them to seek a school other than the one they were zoned for. Thankfully, James’ family was able to find a quality educational option for their children outside the confines of the traditional public school classroom.
Today, James is a stellar seventh-grade virtual-school student at S.C. Connections. Changing schools was certainly the right decision. Now, instead of worrying about his safety, James’ family is celebrating his acceptance into the Duke University Talent Identification Program, where he has been invited to spend the summer.
This week is National School Choice week, and I am thankful for all the learning options that exist for every James in our state. Today, families have a range of diverse options for quality education, whether they attend their traditional brick-and-mortar public school, are home schooled, attend virtual public school, go to a blended online/on-site public school or enroll their children anywhere in between. Education is no longer one-size-fits-all because not every educational institution is the right fit for every child.
Families of students who are hospitalized or homebound, training to be actors or professional athletes or who learn at a faster or slower pace than their peers should be empowered to choose the academic environment that best cultivates learning. S.C. Connections Academy gives students the option to learn over the course of a full calendar year or graduate early. Some states even enable high school students to spend four hours a day at school and the rest interning, volunteering, dually enrolled on a college campus or learning a trade skill.
Whether you are a parent, community member, educator or all three, I encourage you to learn more about the ways families are elevating the quality of education through choice, by scheduling a school visit or attending a school choice event this week. Let’s do it for James.
Executive Director, S.C. Connections Academy