By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Five years ago, the Falkey Family began using Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA), a virtual online school, and they haven’t looked back since.
Allison Falkey and her husband are parents to two kids: an eighth grader and a high school sophomore. At first, both kids were enrolled in a traditional brick-and-mortar school, but the classroom setting wasn’t right for them.
Falkey said both her kids are smart, but they needed extra support that they weren’t receiving. She added that both her kids were capable of learning, just not in a traditional environment. So, they began considering other options.
At the time, a family friend was utilizing WCA. Intrigued, Falkey began researching virtual schools. Unlike homeschooling, where a parent educates their child, a virtual school is an online education system, which gives student an opportunity to learn without the confines of a traditional classroom.
WCA is a free public school for students in grades kindergarten through 12th. Through her research, Falkey discovered that students enrolled in WCA receive high marks on state testing compared to other virtual schools. Furthermore, WCA’s number one priority is student support – the teachers are always willing to ensure that each student is receiving the help they need.
After some deliberation, the Falkey family decided to try out WCA.
Through WCA, the Falkey children received the structure and support they needed. In addition to access to teachers and structured lesson plans, the kids also engaged with other virtual students through whiteboard lessons, a video chat classroom.
“The most exciting part was my daughter was so relieved,” Falkey said. “The classroom environment was not the best for her.”
Falkey explained that her children will be receiving a traditional high school diploma, just like their peers enrolled in the public-school district. They also have a typical school day. Most days they begin school at 9:00 am and finish around 3:00.
“When you complete the subject for the day, you’re done,” Falkey said. “I love that the kids manage their time.”
One of the main concerns when it comes to homeschooling is the aspect of socialization. Falkey called the notion that homeschooled students lack social skills a “pre-archaic stereotype.” Her kids socialize through youth group, volunteering, music lessons and work.
Milwaukee County and the metropolitan area have plenty of opportunities for kids to engage with one another, she said. Their also free from issues like peer pressure.
Through virtual school, the Falkey children have learned time management and responsibility. The virtual setting allows them to take advantage of Wisconsin’s Early College Credit Program, which allows students to take college level courses on campus.
Parents or guardians interested in enrolling their children in a virtual school must complete the Open Enrollment Application for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. They can find the application here or at https://dpi.wi.gov/open-enrollment. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, April 30th at 4:00 pm.
In addition to the application, families will need a date of birth affidavit form, proof of residency, and academic records. Wisconsin Connections Academy enrollment material can be found here or at www.WisconsinConnectionsAcademy.com/Enroll. They can also call 920-993-7076.