For National School Choice Week, Capitol Vanguard is featuring seven Florida students learning in diverse ways. Here is the fourth in our series; JMI resident fellow William Mattox composed this story.
R.J. Wood always thought he’d like to ride a yellow school bus. So, one day his mom, Freddi, suggested that he take the bus from his Friday morning Creative Constructive class to his Friday afternoon Sports Performance class. “He discovered that riding the bus is way over-rated,” Freddi laughs. “But it didn’t hinder his enthusiasm for his school.”
And why would it? R.J. attends the International Community School (ICS) in Winter Park, a fully-accredited private school which offers its students an innovative “blended” curriculum. Two days a week, ICS students take a full slate of academic courses taught by certified teachers in classrooms grouped by grade level; and two days a week, ICS students receive instruction at home from their parents using lesson plans developed by ICS teachers. On Fridays, ICS students take a wide array of mixed-grade electives at the school – and at a nearby gym in the afternoon.
Now a 6th grader, R.J. excels academically. He won a Constitution Day quiz game at the Orlando Science Center last September (see photo) and enjoys learning both at home and at school. “When R.J. was approaching school age, my husband and I were intrigued by homeschooling,” reports Freddi, who studied law at UCLA after graduating from Emory. “But I would have never felt comfortable doing everything at home; so, ICS was ideal for us because it fosters a unique partnership between teachers and parents.”
This partnership extends beyond just a commitment to academic excellence. “My husband and I do not want our children’s spiritual training to be separated from their academic life,” Freddi says, in describing her appreciation for ICS’s Christian worldview.
Thus, rather than seeing her kids’ back-and-forth shuffle from home to school as a disjointed, bifurcated education, Freddi sees it as just the opposite: an integrated life of learning which offers her children “the best of both worlds.”