FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. —Savannah Moss didn’t go back to school the first week of August for her senior year of high school.
Moss attends Georgia Connections Academy, a free, public virtual charter school open to students from all over Georgia in grades kindergarten through 12th.
When Moss became sick her freshman year at South Forsyth High School, she struggled to keep up with her work.
Her mother, Kimberley Manglona, said they didn’t know what was wrong with Moss, so she was unable to attend school. She was part of the district’s hospital homebound program where a teacher would come to her house and teach her, but that wasn’t working either.
“Her freshman year was very difficult,” Manglona said. “She didn’t leave the house except to go to doctors. Turns out she was sick with Lyme disease. The hospital homebound program wasn’t very conducive to a child who needed support.”
The family didn’t feel like Moss’ unique needs were being met, so they began looking for other options. They looked into the Forsyth County Schools’ online option, but still felt it wouldn’t fit their requirements.
During the search they found Georgia Connections Academy, and it has worked for the family since. She will graduate in the spring, just like the 300 other students who graduated this past school year.
“I didn’t know online school was an option,” Manglona said. “We love it so much, that if I had known about it from the beginning we wouldn’t do anything but online school.”
The family met some of Moss’ teachers during the summer after her freshman year and Manglona said they were passionate about the school and what it did.
“The online school offers Savannah flexibility,” Manglona said. “She was still sick her sophomore year. Doing schoolwork was a challenge, but it’s important to Savannah. She was able to work on weekends or after hours. It was offering her the ability to work when she was able, instead of being forced into a schedule.”
The school also allowed Moss to excel in areas she enjoyed and was interested in, while also receiving extra help in areas where she needed more support.
“The best part of online school is getting to decide what I get to do every day,” Moss said. “If I want to get ahead in a class, I can go ahead and be ahead of other classmates. If I’m slower at another class, I don’t have to go at a pace with other students. I can take my time and learn.”
Her parents coach her more and are more involved in her education, which Manglona said doesn’t always happen in traditional school.
“Online school forces the student to be a planner,” Manglona said. “They have to make sure they stay on track because they’re given lessons to complete which sometimes are scheduled over two or three days, sometimes several weeks. It teaches them time management.”
The flexibility allows Moss to participate in activities like her church’s ministry team, hold a job and take part in any extracurricular activities at public schools.
Last summer, Manglona and her daughter spent time in Germany getting treatment for Moss’ Lyme disease.
“We were still there in the beginning of September,” Manglona said. “Her junior year began when she was able to start in Germany. It was from our flat, just like she would from her home here in Forsyth County. We wouldn’t have had that flexibility at a traditional brick and mortar school.”
Moss said she loves attending online school and has recommended it to her friends.
“I would recommend it to anyone who feels they’re struggling in public school,” Moss said. “I know some students feel they get too ahead, or like the classwork isn’t as challenging, this is a perfect solution for any type of student, no matter if they need to work slower or quicker.”
To learn about the academy, visit georgiaconnectionsacademy.com.