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Theresa Small home-schools her sixth-grade daughter Ashlynn.
Small doesn’t speak Spanish, so when Ashlynn expressed a desire to learn the language, the family decided to take advantage of courses being offered online by Wilson County Schools.
“I think our biggest thing was the ability to sign up for the extracurriculars like Spanish and some of the things that are not my strengths as her teacher,” Small said. “I can get help with but still be able to home-school and work at the pace that she likes to work at.”
Small said home-schooling Ashlynn has afforded the ability to keep her daughter challenged with the use of supplemental coursework.
“I’m not a Spanish teacher. I don’t know it all,” Small said. “I get help where I need it.”
Ashlynn is one of a handful of home-schooled children who will be taking courses from Wilson County Schools this spring.
She doesn’t think the course’s online format will make the material more difficult.
“We are already doing an online class and I am doing pretty well in that, so I don’t think it will be much of a challenge,” Ashlynn said. “The reason why I am super excited to learn a foreign language is that my dream ever since I was a young kid is to be able to travel the whole entire world with my younger brother when we are older. Learning foreign languages is something that I am going to have to do if I am going to be able to do that.”
Steve Ellis, special assistant to the superintendent at Wilson County Schools, is organizing the pilot program.
“Our attendance is low, so what we have done is we have reached out to home school parents and students and see if they want to access our online platform, Edgenuity.”
Between 500 and 600 students in Wilson County Schools currently use the online program.
“It’s a win-win for us because if they can basically take two classes, the state will count those students in our ADM (average daily membership), which will help us with funding and more teachers,” Ellis said.
Ellis said the school district has hosted discussions to see what home-school families are looking for by way of coursework and what Edgenuity had to offer.
This spring, the small pilot program may only have five to 10 students in it.
“Next year we are going to really hit it hard because some of the high school home-school parents want to take advantage of some of the Advanced Placement courses,” Ellis said. “That’s a year-old course, so they wouldn’t be able to take it this semester.”
Home-school parents were interested in some of the courses Wilson County Schools had to offer, like SAT prep courses or core classes like English and math.
A few, like Ashlynn, have signed up for electives.
“I think the high school group is going to be a little different because they are going to want the Advanced Placement and some of those courses that are a little bit harder to maneuver through in a home-school setting,” Ellis said.
When parents come in to register, they just need to verify that they are Wilson County residents.
They receive a password at sign up and can watch an online tutorial so they will be comfortable with Edgenuity when they go home.
“The good thing about Edgenuity is the parents are going to get a progress report every day on their student’s activity. There is a helpline that can be accessed 24/7,” Ellis said. WCS counselors are also on call if needed.
“I think that it is an excellent tool that home-school parents can use and still continue to keep whatever program they are using,” Small said. “When we decided to home-school, we decide to take on the cost of everything, so this is a wonderful supplement and it gives us the opportunity to utilize the school system. She gets to experience some other extracurriculars that I can maybe not give her as a home-school parent but still continue to home-school and continue the program that she loves and the pace she likes to work. I think this is a wonderful tool and I hope that other home-school parents will see it as that.”