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Voices: Growing up at an online school

Iman Dwebi, a rising senior at Branson School Online, discusses the benefits she sees to online learning in K-12 education.

We may live in the era of technology, but there is one corner of this advancement that has been met with little commercial acknowledgement — and wrongfully so, as it presents one of the most fulfilling opportunities for both parents and students alike. The ability to complete one’s educational requirements online may be most recognizable amongst collegiate students, but many are unaware that this system similarly extends to elementary and secondary school students. Branson School Online is one such program that offers accredited online courses for K-12th grade students in the state of Colorado.

My experience with online schooling is one that exceeds my own tenure. Before me, my older sister attended and graduated from an online program offered through a local brick and mortar high school. I would later become affiliated with Branson School Online in fourth grade back in 2005. The decision to search for alternative education was made as a result of my parent’s disappointment in the local school districts. My mother heard about Branson School Online through the grapevine and decided to look into the opportunity. Pleased with the principles and ideals she saw, she submitted an enrollment application, and within the year we were interviewed, accepted into the program, and thus began this cyber educational journey.

This proved to be a pivotal moment in not only my academic career but also my personal life. As a naturally self-reliant person, the flexibility of the program allowed me to cultivate my own schedule; with that came the opportunity to pursue my own interests in and out of school, such as earning my black belts in taekwondo, maintaining an active role in the martial arts community, as well as volunteering my time at Denver-area hospitals.

Moreover, my classmates and I are afforded the luxury of enrolling in college courses for dual-credit through the Colorado Concurrent Enrollment Program Act, where the district pays for the cost of our tuition upon satisfactory completion. Through this, I have been able to work towards an Associate of Science degree at the Community College of Aurora while simultaneously fulfilling my high school diploma requirements—both honors of which I will earn in 2014. Working towards my Associate of Science during my high school years has allowed me to get a head start on my undergraduate work in Biology and my eventual application to medical school, where I hope to pursue trauma medicine.

No amount of fleeting words and statements can do justice to the self-discoveries and achievements I have made during my time with Branson School Online. I have been fortunate enough to seize control of and further my education through the numerous opportunities afforded to me here, and I can only hope that others may see my story and understand the potential that learning online offers to them.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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