Nine years ago I found myself looking for a teaching job. I had been out of the classroom for two years to raise my two-year-old daughter and two-month-old baby. They were my pride and joy and I loved being a full-time mommy, but it was putting a financial strain on my family and it came to the point that I needed to start contributing to the family income again. I filled out teaching applications with local school districts, and I cried. I went to interviews, and I cried. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my babies; my heart was always at home with them.
But then a teaching opportunity with California Virtual Academies (CAVA) landed in my lap. I applied, and before I knew it I had landed an interview and everything fell into place. Back then virtual schooling was still in its infancy and I really had no idea what I was signing up for, but what I did know was that I could work from home and stay with my babies. I took the job because it seemed like a great fit for my family and what our needs were.
During my interview we talked about so many different aspects of the job and naturally I had many questions about K12 and how it worked with CAVA. One comment that my interviewer made has always stuck with me, “It’s all about family.”Â As I started to grasp the job and get to know the students that I was working with, I realized that this unique way of doing school was a huge blessing to student families as well.
I have seen students come to the K12 program that were neglected in their previous setting. I have met kids that were beaten down by bullies or picked on by their teachers. I have seen the kids who fell through the cracks and had nowhere to land but CAVA. Some of these children literally couldn’t look me in the eyes when they first started because I too was a teacher – I was part of the group that had failed them. And yet over time I witnessed these same children blossom. They thrived under the daily instruction by a loving parent, they transformed by doing daily PE activities together with their family, and they excelled by simply being given a chance. I have heard from so many parents who say that CAVA and K12 saved their child, and I know they mean this from the bottom of their hearts.
Another aspect of CAVA that I appreciated right from the beginning was that I got to work with the whole family rather than just a single student. I often met students in their homes and I also got to meet both parents, plus siblings and pets! Â I knew exactly what the child’s circumstances were and it helped me to understand and service the student so much better. Most times the whole family was committed to helping the student, and sometimes various family members would even share the Learning Coach duties. It was always clear that it really was all about family.
And you know what? Â What I saw my students experiencing I wanted that for my own children, too. When my babies were both old enough I enrolled them in CAVA as well, and our CAVA experience came full-circle. They have never had to deal with classroom drama. They have always had quality materials and 1:1 instruction. They have always had proactive teachers that worked with them in any areas of struggle. They have been challenged where it was appropriate, and given wiggle-room when they needed it. Of course there have been times where it was hard for me to juggle everything, but my family would always step in when I needed it and help keep us on track.
Nine years later I can still say, without a doubt, it always has been and always will be all about family.