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Home-school students overcome obstacles, juggle hectic schedules
ARLINGTON School Box owner Nola Smith is proud of her home-school students and hopes that more people can learn how home-schooling works.
Reona Anderson, Devin Britton, Nate Fine and Courtney Palmer all graduated from the Academy Northwest Home-School Extension program at Pacific Learning Solutions in Arlington, with Smith serving as their teacher-consultant.
Academy Northwest is a Washington state private school that allows home-schoolers to complete high school studying at home, while enrolled in a school accredited by the National Private School Accreditation Alliance.
Smith explained that, under state home-school law, students enrolled in such a private school extension program are not required to be taught certain curricula under federal law. As a private school teacher-consultant, Smith is required to plan objectives with her students' parents, meet with each student a minimum of one hour a week, evaluate each student's progress, and ensure a student-to-teacher ratio of no more than 30-to-one.
"I can have anywhere from one to 30 kids in a single class," Smith said. "Even though the minimum is once a week, I meet with some students as many as three to four times a week, depending upon their needs. I work with a lot of learning disabled kids, who have special learning styles. It offers both standards and flexibility."
Among this year's graduating class, Anderson chose to home-school because she wanted to graduate early, while Britton and Fine overcame learning disabilities to achieve academic successes in the program.
"Nate spent seven hours one day on therapy," said Smith, who described Fine's energy levels and commitment to teamwork as assets for his goal of becoming an activity director on a cruise line. "He's been very focused and attentive."
Smith likewise described Britton as determined, driven and responsible, characteristics which she feels will serve him well as an aspiring police officer.
Britton came to Pacific Learning Solutions in the third grade, while Fine enrolled at the age of 14. Fine will start at Whatcom Community College this fall to pursue a hospitality degree, and after a year of working, Britton plans to attend Skagit Valley College to train in criminal justice.
As for Palmer, her goal of competing as a jumper in the Olympics in a few years has left her with a hectic schedule that requires flexible learning hours. She won $10,000 in the junior jumper category at last year's Grand Prix in Monroe. In the meantime, she plans to attend Everett Community College in the fall.
Anderson is already enrolled with International Design and Technology in Tukwila, for fashion design this fall.
"These parents do the most creative and wonderful things to get their children excited about learning," Smith said.