It is National School Choice week, and someone like me has a lot to celebrate.

Growing up in rural Somerset County, my parents chose PA Distance for me and my sister. Their ability to choose this school would determine a lot about me – the way I learn, my diverse group of friends, my self-motivation, and my degree of self-discipline.

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Students performed in local school musical while enrolled in cyber school

I could go on and on about how PA Distance created me and my future; but my school district’s respect for my parent’s choice made just as much of me.

One of my brothers went to our local school, and was involved in sports and music. Though I was cyber schooled, I was never denied any opportunities that my brother had. I participated in basketball, weight lifting, marching band, musical theater, speech team – and those were just the extracurricular activities! I was also welcomed into classrooms to further my musical abilities.

This respectful and kind attitude for my parent’s choice in education enabled a deep trust for our school district. They showed us that they were concerned most with the good of each of us kids. And so, when it became clear that my little sister wasn’t thriving in a cyber school setting, my parents knew our district would take care of her personally and academically.

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So you see, when it comes to school choice, I have a lot to celebrate. My school district, along with the teachers and staff who make it up, never questioned that my parents were making the right choice for our education. And they never treated me like an outsider, either. Because of this, my family and I were always very involved in serving our local community.

Maybe this hasn’t been your reality at all. If your district hasn’t been an advocate for your family, take a deep breath and work for change. As you strive, remember this: cyber schools and local schools can work together. When they do, it is the community that ultimately benefits.

When a community’s families are able to make the right choice for their kids, the kids are able to thrive and push toward a bright future. Mutual respect between families and the local district makes community service and involvement much more likely. When a small community can grow stronger, the greater area benefits; this effect may continue until we become part of strengthening our global community.

If you live in a school district that is as wonderful as mine was, be sure to thank them as we celebrate National School Choice Week.

School choice is for the world, and it starts right where we live.