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The sky’s the limit for Matt Martinez. The virtual academy senior has his sights set on becoming a commercial pilot after a successful academic career, but it didn’t start out that way.
In third grade Matt Martinez found school boring.
“The teacher would have so many students to work with, that by the time I was done with an assignment, they were still working with other students leaving me with nothing to do and time wasted,” reflects Matt.
Matt, now a senior at Washington Virtual Academy (WAVA), made the switch from a brick-and-mortar public school to online for fourth grade after his mother discovered “digital schools.”
“Getting him to school became a battle and we needed an alternative,” says Matt’s father, Mark Martinez.
“Having this option for our kids has been a life changer. They went from being bored and getting in trouble to being engaged and having fun.”
Matt agrees and recognizes the freedom and flexibility his high school offers him.
“In online school, once I’m done with a lesson, I don’t have to wait for the rest of the class to finish. Once I’m finished with the day’s lessons, I am free to use my time as I please."
He’s also noticed misconceptions surrounding virtual education, due to the emergency remote learning instituted by brick-and-mortar public schools as a response to the pandemic.
“During COVID, I have heard a lot of friends that attend brick and mortar schools complain about online school. To my knowledge, the online school they were in and the online school I am in are very different. The online school they were in was improvised on a fairly short notice, the teachers did not have the knowledge or the materials to teach a class online,” explains Matt.
"The online class I go to is an established public school with teachers trained to teach online, a great interface, and flexibility.”
Mark says he is impressed by his sons’ online educators as well, and that the teachers are “above what I was expecting.” He says the teachers and staff "love teaching and are dedicated to the student’s success.”
The Martinez family had the opportunity to share how online learning has helped their family at Digital Day at the capitol in Olympia. The family took part in a virtual class demonstration to show lawmakers how the interface works, and answer questions about their experience.
“I talked for a bit then my son jumped in and started showing lawmakers how the software worked, his schedule, how he interacts with his teacher, and how he got his homework done,” reflects Mark.
“He just started talking to this adult, an elected official at that, with such poise and confidence. It was just awesome to see my kid like that.”
Mark wants parents to know it’s “their choice where they send their children to school” and they aren’t limited to a school that isn’t working for their family.
“Parents need to know there are far more public school options than they know about in Washington State,” says Mark.
Matt plans to attend flight school after graduation and begin training to become a commercial pilot. For him, it’s the next right choice.
“Not every school is made the same, some students may perform better in some schools than others… school freedom means the ability to choose which school or which type of school you would like to attend. Whether it be a brick and mortar school, homeschool, or online school.”
When he's not studying, you'll find Matt playing guitar, hiking, mountain biking and backpacking, He also also enjoys working on and fixing up older cars. His favorite book is the Haynes Repair Manual Ford Pick-ups & Bronco.
Mark enjoys hand tool woodworking, backpacking and reading books on astrophysics. He likes "French Vanilla creamer but it’s strange to just drink that, so I put it in coffee."
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