“For all my children, it felt like a holiday... they were so excited to see the boxes flowing in, right before school started. That's when we kind of knew that it's getting closer school.” ~ Shannon Kilgore
(Transcript available below)
START OF TRANSCRIPT
Heidi Higgins: Hi, there. I'm Heidi Higgins and you're listening to K12 On Learning. I saw my first back-to-school sale sign today and about cried. Not that I don't love the smell of crayons and a really good sale, but because it means that the summer is progressing right along. It was a reminder to get out more and enjoy the summer and the family, yet also be prepared for fall with school decisions made before the August enrollment rush. Today, we're bringing you a special episode featuring our sponsor, Stride K12. I was invited to participate in a Starting Your Year Off Strong presentation, and it involved three other families who school their children online. I had a great time getting to know these families and learn all about their experiences as they took charge of their child's education. I want to share that conversation with you.
It is my pleasure today to introduce you to three experienced Learning Coaches and a special guest that we'll introduce you to a little bit later, but a Learning Coach is the name we give to a parent or guardian whose children are enrolled in a Stride K12 school. These three women will share what you can expect after the enrollment process and how to get the year started off successfully. I've invited each of them to tell you a little bit about themselves. Shannon Kilgore, let's start with you.
Shannon Kilgore: Hi, thank you for having me. My name is Shannon and I'm a Learning Coach of six children. My children are in grades kindergarten to 11th grade. This is my second year as a Learning Coach and I've enjoyed and learned so much from having all my children at home in different grades. We've had such a wonderful experience with our schools and can't wait for my oldest one to be a senior this year.
Heidi Higgins: Wow. A senior coming up. Congratulations, Shannon. So grateful that you are here to share your experience with six children at home in different grades so we're looking forward to hearing much more. Vanessa Sherman, please share a little bit about your journey with Stride K12.
Vanessa Sherman: Thanks so much for having me. My daughter just finished her fifth-grade year with our K-12 school, and this means we are entering our fourth year with the Stride family. My daughter and I have grown closer throughout this experience and we have learned so much individually and as a team, and we are looking forward to returning in the fall for the sixth-grade year.
Heidi Higgins: Wonderful. So glad, Vanessa, that you are a part and that sixth-grader of yours. Since you'll be enjoying these upper-grade years with her, it will be fun to hear some of your perspective. And Sheena Banks, we're really looking forward to hearing how your first year as a Learning Coach has been. Can you tell us a little bit more?
Sheena Banks: Yes, I'm so excited to be here, thank you for having me. This is my first year as a Learning Coach at K12. My daughter attended virtual school and I just fell in love with being so hands-on in her education, I wasted no time enrolling at K12 and it's been so wonderful. We've enjoyed it.
Heidi Higgins: Thank you. Each of these women are part of the Learning Coach community that you can join by downloading the K12 app. The fun part is that these three have become friends because they became part of a trusted support system. They live in different parts of the country, have different circumstances, but as Learning Coaches, they have a common role and they enjoy supporting each other and being part of more than 40,000 other Learning Coach members.
We're going to talk a little bit about that community, that Learning Coach community, a little later, but first, let's go over the topics that we'll be addressing. What happens after your enrollment is approved? Where in your home are you going to school the child or the children? We'll address what to expect on that very first day. Resources are everywhere and we'll show you where to find them, and I promise we'll talk about the best resource, that Learning Coach community, and how you can become a part. Then we have a special guest to discuss our Career, Learning and Success Coach resources.
Sheena, you've been through this step most recently. What can we expect after the application has been submitted and we've received our email approval?
Sheena Banks: After submitting the application through the Parent Portal, I received an email that explained that the process from application to approval could take a few days to a couple of weeks, so it is important that all required documents be submitted and accepted. In that email, it also included the date of the first day of school and it also encourages you to check your email as often as possible to keep up with your application status.
After I was approved, I received a registration email and that helped me create my very own Learning Coach account as well as my student's account, and the student's account will be used for them to log in to school every day and these accounts will need separate usernames and passwords. The username for the Learning Coach, I would say Learning Coaches to make sure those usernames and passwords are protected because we don't want the students to have access to that login information because they would have access to the answers to their tests and we wouldn't want that. I also would like to say to make sure you check your spam box because I have received so many emails that are important. I have received so many emails in my spam box. So make it a habit of checking your inbox and your spam for those important emails.
Heidi Higgins: Excellent. Thank you. Shannon, with the most children enrolled here, can you share what kinds of materials our families can expect and what the reaction of the boxes addressed to each child provide?
Shannon Kilgore: For all my children, it felt like a holiday. They were so excited to see the boxes flowing in right before school started. That's when we knew that it's getting closer to school. For my older children, they got reading books, workbooks and some science materials such as rocks and minerals, plants and microscopes. They had a lot of hands-on projects throughout the school year that they used in class as a group project and everything was given to us that was needed for school except for the basics, the pencils, notebooks and binders that we used throughout the school year.
Heidi Higgins: Thank you. We encourage all families to share unboxing moments at your house online on your social media channels, and we always love it when you share it with the Stride K12 channels as well. Keep in mind that you need to prepare a space for the materials that will arrive. For the older students, you're looking at only a small shelf or a small bin, but having the materials ready when needed will be important for your child's success. Everyone's home is different and the setup you choose will depend on your circumstances, so let's hear how these three have found space to school their children in their homes. Vanessa, let's start with you. Where do you set up school for your daughter in your home?
Vanessa Sherman: So currently, we've turned our guest bedroom into our classroom, so we have each class separated into individual cubbies for easy access and this also helps us to separate school time from home time, so my daughter knows that when we're in the classroom, that's school time and once we are out of that room and the door closes, school time's over, because it's so easy to combine school and home time since they're in the same place and it is so important to distinguish the difference between the two.
Heidi Higgins: Thank you. Sheena, how about you?
Sheena Banks: We had just a limited amount of space so I just created a space in my bedroom and bought her a little desk right beside my desk so we can be little workmates, and I also have an organizer, a shelf that is organized by subject for her and I just did that right in my bedroom.
Heidi Higgins: Excellent. Shannon, you have the most children here, the most grade levels and are schooling at two separate online schools, so what does schooling look like in your home?
Shannon Kilgore: For my children, each of them has their own desk in their room with a bookcase for each of their supplies, except for my youngest one who has his desk down with me downstairs with all his supplies because he does have more. The children all have their own routine and schedules once we establish them at the beginning of the school year, so we made routines for them and since they're in two different schools, their schedules are slightly different and their days in school vary so each child has their own folder with their schedule assignments and what they have for the LOs for the week.
Heidi Higgins: As with any school, there's anticipation about that very first day, what we can expect in an online school. Shannon, will you share your experience?
Shannon Kilgore: With my older children, they were so excited on the first day to find out what classes they were going to have and the electives that they got to choose from, finding out what teachers they had and what they were going to learn for the year in those classes. The first day was a bit crazy since they had multiple teachers instead of just one from elementary and trying to figure out your time for having breaks and lunch and just like any middle school or high school, getting your schedules are the most exciting times of the year because those are the funnest times because you get to choose your electives.
Heidi Higgins: That sounds great. Thank you. Vanessa, were you told that you may not hear from the school until the start date?
Vanessa Sherman: No, they prepared me quite well. I was told to expect a phone call from our teacher before our start date, she was going to welcome us. And we were also told to keep an eye on our inbox and our junk mail for emails from the school, and that's exactly what happened. Once we were accepted, it's like a flood of information started. It was awesome because I'm all about knowing everything and just being completely prepared so I was in my glory.
So the welcome call, the first one from her teacher, it was the sweetest thing and it made my daughter feel like a surreal situation was just... She felt so welcomed and she was so excited and the teacher was so kind and personal and it made her feel excited for what was about to happen because it just was so personalized and it was so much fun and exciting, and then we got a phone call from an advisor and then we got a phone call from the guidance counselor and as a parent and a Learning Coach, I was like, "All right, this is my type of place." Like, there's open communication, I'm being informed of everything. I was like, "This is definitely the place for me." And she felt comfortable as well, so it was definitely all around smiles.
Heidi Higgins: That is great information. Keep in mind that each school is independent and may do things in a different way. Emails from the school will let you know exactly what to expect on that first day so please watch for them, and as Sheena mentioned, check your junk email, make sure that they're not going there, but then open them and read them often. That's an important thing to do.
So let's talk resources. I remember being grateful that there was a place to turn when I felt lost or frustrated by technology or maybe even needed lesson help. What kinds of resources do each of you use? Shannon?
Shannon Kilgore: With us, the teachers were the biggest resource. I was able to email them and gotten responses back within a timely manner. I also used the planners to help me stay organized as well as keeping the children organized and using the Learning Coach app where I'm on that every single day. The community comes together and helps with any questions that may have. No matter what it may be, there is someone always there to help you and giving you the words of advice if you need help or pointing you in the right directions to somebody that could help you.
Heidi Higgins: I like that. How about your use of resources, Sheena?
Sheena Banks: I'm definitely going to piggyback off of Shannon because I definitely had to get in contact with my daughter's teacher and she was amazing. She got back with me as soon as she received my email and the communication was definitely open. Also, the K12 app. I don't know what I would do without that K12 app. There's always someone on there that would have an answer for you. Also, there are counselors for the students. That is something that is important for especially the older students to reach out and maybe be able to talk to someone other than their parents. There are many counselors there to help the students.
Heidi Higgins: Thank you, Sheena. Vanessa, you, Sheena and Shannon are all part of the Learning Coach community. Can you tell us exactly what that group is, where to find it and share an example of how the group has served you?
Vanessa Sherman: Sure. So the Learning Coach community can be found on the K12 app in the community option. You can select your school community or there's also a national community where you can communicate with Learning Coaches from all over the country, and it's so cool because these are Learning Coaches that are dealing with the exact same things you're dealing with. They're on the same journey as you. We all share tips and tricks, get advice, and really, you're making friends from all over the place.
And also, Stride host national Learning Coach meetings every Tuesday at the same time via Zoom and there, it's another place for you to share little tricks on how to do things, get advice and everything, but it's more personalized because you're seeing everyone's pretty faces and this is actually how we all met and she and I actually exchanged email addresses here and eventually, that led to exchanging phone numbers and talking on the phone for hours and just laughing and connecting.
And it's such a relief to know that others are sharing the same experiences as you, because new can be so scary and in this community, you're celebrating the good, you're celebrating the bad, you're sharing all of it. And, I mean, personally, when we decided to join K12, I was put down a lot for that decision. I was told that I couldn't do it on my own, I'd been on a school for so long and keeping my child in brick and mortar was the most logical choice to make.
But when I joined the community, I learned that I wasn't the only one that was faced with this criticism from everyone and that we're all making a huge impact on our students' lives and that helping each other accomplish that through good days and bad days, I probably would've lost faith in myself a really long time ago if it weren't for the encouragement of the staff and other Learning Coaches, because no one understands it like we all do.
Heidi Higgins: Excellent. Thank you for sharing that, Vanessa. Shannon, what can you find within the community? And can you name anything specific that has helped you?
Shannon Kilgore: In the Learning Coach community, I have found so many resources that have helped guide me throughout the school year. I have found different activities that we can join as well as sharing your experiences with others. It was a great community to come together. For example, they have cooking ideas and photography topics and I love both of them, so finding similar interests for others, there's a ton of things that you can get into and just be a part of, and if you have something that you want to share, like your student did something well and you want to share it, there are so many people that will come together and congratulate them. I've really learned a lot in the community and getting to know others with similar interests to me and my children.
Heidi Higgins: Thank you for that. Sheena, how were you supported by the community and where was the value for you as a first-year family?
Sheena Banks: Oh, it was a lifesaver for me. I didn't have anyone else in my circle who homeschooled so I felt isolated, and so I needed someone to say, "Hey, you're doing an amazing job. You made the right decision for your family." I needed that and that's what I got from that community, and so now I want to be the person who says that to the new people coming in. It's something that you need. We need community and the Learning Coach community, it's amazing and it's fun.
Heidi Higgins: Well, it's important to see this. Thank you for that. It's important to see just how effective this community is, that these three became friends and that there's more than 40,000 other members who can lift, support and help one another. And on the subject of resources, we have some fantastic resources available for students in grade 6 through 12.
To discuss those with us today, we have a Success Coach, Courtney White. Courtney has 15 years of coaching experience, is a certified professional resume writer and specializes in many fields such as internships, college election and admissions, student aid and scholarships. She also hosts monthly Success Coach webinars. Thank you for joining us, Courtney. Let's talk Career Prep. What does Stride Career Prep offer students and explain what a Success Coach is?
Courtney White: So when I talk about Success Coaching, I like to think of it as the same way you would view a nutrition coach or a life coach or a fitness coach. It's the same kind of thing, but a Success Coach is within the interest of your student's overall success. A Success Coach is there to guide your student through high school, through what he or she may decide for a career.
The Success Coaches are here to help jumpstart your child's future, so if you have a child that has many interests, if you have a child that is not quite sure what they want to do when they graduate for a career, the Success Coach is there to help make sure that your child is on the right path, is asking the right questions, knows where to find information, knows where to find resources. We help our students explore pathways.
There's so many great options out there for our students and we love to just get students involved, expose them to the things that sometimes they don't even know is available at their school. We help our students with dual enrollment so if you have a student, I have worked with so many students that graduate early because they have a lot of different plans, so with Success Coaching, it's all about making sure your child is career-ready or college-ready or both, ready for the next step after high school.
Heidi Higgins: You offer an awful lot and the wonderful part is that you offer these things for free.
Courtney White: That's right. That is absolutely right. Working with a Success Coach is no additional cost, so you might see all of those ads and things like that for coaching, it's a very pricey service, but we do not have any fees associated with our coaching, your students have access to identify their career path, building a polished resume for college or career, access to internships, this is a big one that parents, Learning Coaches and students love, interviewing skills and etiquette, networking with college and companies, practicing professional communication and how to be safe online and to have and build a personal brand for those students who are looking for that kind of thing. So we have a full gamut of services that's absolutely free to help your student get started for what's next after graduation.
Heidi Higgins: Thank you for being here, Courtney. What an outstanding opportunity for our students. We've spoken about quite a few things today, so I'm going to go back to our Learning Coaches for a moment. If you could offer any advice for a newly enrolled family, what would it be? Sheena, let's start with you.
Sheena Banks: Yes. I would say try not to get so overwhelmed. There's a lot of information that you will come across, but I would say try to focus on the information that you need at the moment. That's what I had to do because it was so much information, wonderful information, but it was so much of it. And I would also say to do what works for you and your family. There's no right or wrong way to do it. Do what works for you. And that's what I love about K12, Stride, is that it's so much freedom and flexibility there. I wish you luck on your journey.
Heidi Higgins: Excellent. Vanessa, how about you?
Vanessa Sherman: No matter how silly, uneducated or annoying you think a question may be, don't ever be afraid to ask for help or to reach out with anything you have going on. You and your children's teachers are a team and working as one will help you be an even more successful Learning Coach. Be present, be active, reach out whenever you need to.
Heidi Higgins: Thanks, Vanessa. Shannon, your words of advice?
Shannon Kilgore: I would have to say to not stress out the first week of school, because like any school, it's going to be a challenge in getting to know the routine and your classes and coming prepared for the first day, logging on before 8:00 AM to see what your schedule is, that way you can be prepared for the first day and have fun and enjoy learning along with your child and being able to utilize the different resources such as the Learning Coach community, because they will help you in more ways than you could believe.
Just remembering that it's a learning process for everyone, that the first few days of school and knowing it's going to be pretty stressful for the first couple days, but after that, and now you have information that you need, you will be set and you'll have a great experience and you'll love being involved with your children in their schooling, especially for the older ones because they can teach you a lot that we might not know.
Heidi Higgins: 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 [inaudible 00:22:57] 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.
END OF TRANSCRIPT
Meet a Leader in online education.
See why over two million students have chosen Stride K12-powered schools.