PORT ORCHARD, Wash. - More families are choosing well-established online schools over their designated school districts heading into the fall.
As the summer days tick away, Carter Anderson is taking advantage of every drop before it’s over.
Carter’s mom Dana is having fun close by watching her son wakeboarding.
The issue is when they get back inside, in front of a laptop for remote classes.
“I had to sit with him on the computer at all times otherwise he would switch off and play a game, not y attention or draw something,” Dana said.
It’s easy to get distracted at home when you don’t have the one on one engagement from inside a classroom with a teacher who can see your every move.
“I just like working with teachers most of the time we didn’t do that so,” Carter said.
If anything, the pandemic is motivating the Port Orchard family to try new things.
Instead of enrolling Carter at John Sedgewick Middle in the South Kitsap School District, the 13-year-old hopes to attend Washington Virtual Academies of WAVA.
It’s a free online, state-funded school, that’s been around for more than a decade. All the teachers are from the Omak School District.
“They just had more experience so I felt more comfortable and I thought WAVA would have better guidance,” Dana said.
Apparently, Dana isn’t the only person feeling that way because WAVA is seeing unprecedented growth.
Compared to previous years, more families are choosing WAVA over their designated school districts, leading to a waitlist situation in some of the younger grades.
“This is specifically designed for an online 100% online environment where as brick and mortar that isn’t the case so they are all scrambling to convert their curriculum to work in an online format,” Terry Ackerman, the Vice Principal for high schoolers at WAVA said.
WAVA’s parent company K12 runs similar programs across the country, they are in the process of hiring 1,600 new teachers nationwide to meet the demand.
Because they are established, Ackerman said WAVA has a lot of supports in place including one on one instruction.
“We really try to work with parents on that flexibility piece,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman said it’s that flexibility that attracts many families to WAVA especially those who can’t fit into the typical school hours.
When it comes to Carter, he’s grateful that his mom can stay home to guide him because he knows many kids don’t have that extra support.
“It was nice when she was there to help me,” Carter said.
His mom just hopes Carter will find a new groove in this new world.
“I’m definitely going to be more intrigued I’m very excited for it,” Carter said.
The Port Orchard mom says trying out WAVA is not a reflection on the teachers at South Kitsap. During these unprecedented times, Dana said it will be up to parents to do what is best for their individual child. She said they are keeping their options open in case they want to come back to the district.