“As a podcaster, I have been able to speak to parents, teachers, students, school leaders, and experts on topics that help an online schooling family be successful.” ~ Heidi Higgins
(Transcript available below)
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Heidi Higgins: Hi there, I'm Heidi Higgins, and you are listening to K12 On Learning. We have been doing some celebrating here at K12 On Learning, we are two years into this journey and now over a hundred episodes. Thank you for being here, I'm grateful and humbled that you would join us. I love to listen and share experiences about education solutions with families across the country. I enjoy being the host here at K12 On Learning, but podcasting is not what I started it out to be. For nearly two decades, I spent the bulk of my weeks traveling to destinations away from my home, where I would set up comfortable environments for information sessions about schooling online. I was introduced to online schooling when the concept was so brand new, back in 2002. Something pulled up my heart when I attended a meeting about it because one of my daughters was not enjoying going to school. She was an excellent student, but she did not like the constraints of the environment, and she said she felt like she was being held back from achieving her potential.
Her frustrations became noticeable in the classroom and in her home, and I had no idea where to turn. When I heard about new educational options coming to my state through online learning, I knew my daughter needed me to find a solution for her. I was confident in the decision I ultimately made because of the reputation of the leadership of this new online school. I knew them to be innovative, and I understood that they were solid leaders in education, so I enrolled my youngest three daughters. It was not an easy transition to adjust to having my three youngest at home all the time, and getting them to learn. It was a very difficult thing. But soon, things began to come to together. Education was happening. I began to see joy and education progress in my children like I had never seen before. It was not always easy, as some days were not fun, but the positive changes I saw in my children were certainly worth every minute of the experience. I had found a solution that worked for me in my home, and I was willing to share our story with others.
My message and experience drew a lot of interest, and Stride K12 invited me to keep sharing. Soon, I was sharing my experiences with families around the country. What does all this have to do with becoming a podcaster? Well, let's fast forward 20 years, during which time the online education story is consistently growing, and then comes a pandemic. Suddenly, everyone must learn about online education. Schools are closed, travel is not possible, and gathering's not permitted. Online education is forced into the forefront, and it's a panic. The online alternative became mainstream, and very few schools were prepared. This was a fascinating event to observe. Interestingly, established online schools remained consistent and education continued without much notice. While the rest of the world scrambled to find equipment and lesson plans and home education solutions, podcasting, even the thought of it, was a scary adventure for me, both right before and during the pandemic.
I began researching at the beginning of 2020, and then especially when the pandemic began. And I approached Stride K12 with the idea of hosting a podcast for families interested in the online education story. We're now two years and 100 episodes in from that initial push, and I have continued sharing parts of my story all along the way. As a podcaster, I've been able to speak to parents and teachers and students and school leaders and experts, on topics that help an online school family be successful. I'm not a well-known personality with connections all over the country, I'm simply a mother wanting to get the message out that there are education solutions out there that may fit the need for your family. In my very first episode, I spoke with Corrie Munson. She is a mother of four, and had chosen to school her children at home and then discovered online education.
Corrie Munson: I was in the kitchen and my son was sitting on the couch with his laptop, and he was in a ClassConnect, and I could hear the teacher. And so I walked over and was looking at the screen, and he wasn't aware of me at all, but I could hear the teacher, and it was so engaging. It was just this moment frozen in time, and I thought, this is what parents want. They want their child to be engaged in learning, and they're in a safe environment, they're in a healthy environment. And that moment is frozen in my mind that this is education.
Heidi Higgins: As the show progressed, I learned to find experts that could advise families with some of their biggest concerns. Kelly MacLean is a former college recruiter, who now runs a large business designed to help students with college applications and scholarship acquisition. She reminded me that a college is a business.
Kelly MacLean: One of the things people fail to realize is, as a business, they're inviting an entire community to come together. They're building a mini city. And just like any other city, you don't want a city just filled with engineers, you don't want a city filled just with men. So they're looking for all of the different personalities that can add to their community, that can bring something, that will participate in their community. So they're looking beyond just brains and test scores, they want to know that people will contribute. And the biggest indicator that they'll contribute to this new community is based on what they contributed to in their old community.
Heidi Higgins: Dr. Brandi Maynard was really fun to interview, and featured on the podcast because many people wonder if their kid is gifted or challenged or both.
Dr. Brandi Maynard: What I've found in my experience in working with thousands is that oldest child, you may have experienced this too, looks like a textbook gifted child, and then the younger children are doing everything that they can to not be like their sibling. Because if they're a couple years younger, they know that they're never going to reach that bar because that sibling is always out of their reach. And so what my research has found is that that second one might look completely different, and maybe at that same level of giftedness or even higher. And usually, with siblings, it's within 5 to 10 points of one another, and it's similar to their parents as well as far as IQ goes. So we've got that general academic ability. The next is a specific academic ability, and so you may be gifted in the area of math or science or reading or writing, one specific area. If you're twice exceptional, you may be gifted in math, but have a learning disability and perhaps have dyslexia.
Heidi Higgins: Mr. Kevin Chavous is the President of Stride, and a podcaster in his own right with his What I Want to Know podcast. He joined me last year when I was approached by a student actress, model and influencer from the DC area who asked to interview the President of Stride.
Kevin Chavous: This to me is the secret of success. You heard it from me, this is the secret right here. You have to believe in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will believe in you. And if you believe in yourself, even when people tell you you can't do something, guess what? Ultimately you'll find a way to do it. This belief just is so important, and I think that's what the number one piece of advice I would give students like you.
Speaker 6: I totally agree with you, just believe it yourself. Because at the end of the day, all you have is yourself, so just got to believe in yourself.
Kevin Chavous: That's right, that's right.
Heidi Higgins: On Father's Day, we chose to have a little fun. We invited students to talk about their dads through dad jokes, but also express thanks for the loving Dads who help teach children and influence all of us.
Speaker 7: What do you call a fish wearing a bow tie? Sofishticated.
Speaker 8: If a child refuses to nap, are they guilty of resisting arrest?
Speaker 9: So, I was about eight or nine, and it was actually my first experience at a funeral. And my dad said, "What did the big casket say to the little casket?" ... "Is that you coffin?"
Speaker 10: What did the ocean say to the beach? He said nothing, he just waved.
Speaker 11: Yeah. As far as first memories, my dad, when I was younger, was always working. He had two to three jobs all the time. My parents came to this country in the seventies from South Korea, so they didn't speak any English. So yeah, my father worked two to three jobs all day. So early on, my memories of him were just him working all the time.
Heidi Higgins: Many of our listeners asked us for some reading hints, and some tips that they could use in their home. We found reading specialist Jenny Murphy, to share ideas of why it's important to expose children to words and books and thinking, simply by reading to them every single day.
Jenny Murphy: We should read for 20 minutes a day. 20 minutes a day is that magic number. Reading for 20 minutes a day is going to expose your student to 1.8 million words, it's going to give them 851 hours of reading time by the end of sixth grade, which is just mind-blowing. You're going to see the results of that in standardized testing and on all sorts of assessments that your student will participate in. And so you can look and see how that compares to a student that reads only five minutes a day, or to a student that's only reading for one minute a day. So that 20 minutes a day is such a magical and powerful number because of the language and the words they're going to be exposed to, and just the amount of time that they're going to spend with text and literature. Reading crosses all content areas. So that reading for 20 minutes a day will serve them students at all levels.
Heidi Higgins: In September of 2022, I began teaching a class on becoming a podcaster as an enrichment course for Stride K12. Now, this is an experience that is rather humbling. Teaching the class on podcasting has reminded me how I learned to convert my own information and presentation skills to a whole new medium. It was a reinvention of myself that I did not expect to have along my professional journey, and I am still learning. In the beginning, the podcast was an experiment, and I was on my own, with only encouragement from Stride K12 leadership. The research time, self-training and fear factors were rather intense. I remember the first exciting download, and now, 100 podcast episodes in and two years of experience later, I see the growth and how the episodes have changed and evolved. I have fallen in love with podcasting because I can now invite others to share experiences and ideas which can help a family learn from home.
This podcast, K12 On Learning, is globally ranked now, in the top 10% of all 2.9 million podcasts. And it has grown to require a support staff, which includes a producer, a writer, and graphic support creator. I'm no longer alone in sharing this story. Ideas for episodes come from current topics and ideas that families share. Each week we reach out to bring listeners exciting guests on topics that vary widely. Podcasting opens doors to reach thousands, even tens of thousands of people, with a message of possible solutions and hope for education and the future. So here I am today, and I'm still sharing my story, but in a whole new way. I love change because it forces me to grow. And many things have changed for me. My children are now all grown, they each successfully graduated from high school and also from the university of their choice. They have careers, they're married and are having children of their own. My family became a second generation Stride K12 family when six of our grandchildren were enrolled, and I love this opportunity to stay in touch educationally with the grandchildren.
Their online education allows them to share some of the things they're learning every day. Multiple-generation learning is going on in an online school format, and those six grandchildren have a grandmother who is a podcaster and who can help others by talking about it. Thanks for celebrating this 100th episode milestone with me today. I'm going to keep on learning.
Thank you for listening to K12 On Learning, sponsored by Stride. To learn more about online public schools powered by Stride K12, Stride Career Prep programs that foster lifelong learning, or any of the private school or individual course offerings, please go to stridelearning.com or k12.com. Special thanks to Tree-K Studios for providing the music for us. Remember to subscribe to this podcast, and feel free to leave us a good review. We hope you'll join us next time for K12 On Learning.
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