Class Acts: Valedictorian Bound for London

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This article was originally published in Learning Liftoff.

Learning Liftoff’s Class Acts series profiles inspiring online education graduates.  Their stories showcase how individualized, award-winning curriculum and technology combine to greatly influence student success and help propel the pursuit of post-graduate dreams.

Haley Justice has always been an academically driven student. When her family lived in Vietnam, the grading scale was one through seven versus the A–F scale used in the United States. She received a five in physical education and was devastated. Haley was determined to receive a seven, and she worked daily to improve her skills.

Her efforts triggered an interest in fitness, so she joined the basketball and volleyball teams. It wasn’t until her freshman year that she decided to focus on dancing.

Haley’s passion for fitness and dancing grew, and she was eventually accepted into New York’s Joffrey Ballet School her junior year. From the fundamentals of ballet and jazz to hip hop and contemporary, Haley performed them all.

Through K12 International Academy, Haley was able to excel in both her dancing and educational pursuits. She took the AP classes she wanted, and was more determined than ever to be successful in all of her courses. She achieved her goals, and this year she graduated first out of a class of 250 to be named iCademy’s 2015 valedictorian!

She’ll start in the fall as a freshman at Kingston University in London, England, where she’ll be studying dance, of course. She hopes to dance as long as she can and eventually become a manager or director one day.

To watch a video of Haley and read the full article click HERE

To read more about our student athletes click HERE

K¹² International Academy wins big with Poetry

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This year’s poetry contest was quite a success! The theme was “Smiles and Laughter Poetry,” and we received more than 1,000 poems from students in grades K–12 that demonstrate their poetic genius and creativity.

Our school winners:

Hafsah Peracha 1st place Grade 2

What Makes Me Happy By Hafsah P. I like to make a goal Across the North Pole My favorite part Of the day Is when I play I love it when it snows Drink the hot chocolate And make the funny Snowman’s nose I love to eat healthy food Because it makes my mom In good mood I like to ride in convertible car While eating A yummy chocolate bar I like to see a huge bear Sitting on Top of the brown pear I love to visit New York City Because the view is So pretty!

Khadija Jameel 3rd place Grade 7

“Hidden Beauty” A star, lit up or falling, A candle in a sky twinkling. Dawn, the sun rising slowly, Soft morning hues mingling. My cat, yawning, spreading his paws For me to rub his fur. His upturned stomach just white and gold fluff, Vibrating with a contented purr. A stallion, build strong yet coat satin. Hoofs beating, mane sailing behind. Forests, mountains, seas, lakes, and rivers – Whatever nature gives me to find. The warmth of a friend, and the joy Of a joke or a secret shared. Poetry, peace, and perfection. Life or freedom spared. Discovery, love, and happiness. A comical coincidence. Awe, life, color and snow. Silent, lonely quiescence. This is what the world is made of, like a mosaic, Tile after glimmering tile. This is beauty. This is what makes me laugh Or what makes me smile.

You can view our online collection of participants and see the fantastic submissions we received this year.

If you submitted a poem, you can download your certificate of participation, print it, personalize it by filling in your poet’s name, and pin it somewhere in your home to encourage more writing.

This story was first featured in Learning Liftoff–To read more about the contest and get a list of all winners click HERE

Join the Summer Pin and Win Contest

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Students in every grade level can be found counting down to the highlight of their year, summer vacation. While we encourage students to celebrate their ability to sleep in, bask in their assignment-free schedules, and soak up some summer fun, we also want to encourage them to exercise their minds and engage in some summer learning.

This summer, we’re featuring resources and ideas for preventing summer learning loss, including suggestions for outdoor activities, educational games, and tips and tricks for the whole family. These articles about summer learning are a great way to ensure that your students retain what they learned this past school year and stay on track for the grade level they’ll be entering in the fall.

And, as in years past, the upcoming school year will likely be expensive, from purchasing school supplies and new clothes to planning meals packed with brain food. In an effort to help with these back-to-school expenses, we’re kicking off a Summer Learning Pinterest Sweepstakes, giving you the opportunity to win a $500 Visa Gift Card!

This contest was first featured on Learning Liftoff for more information about the contest and additional reading click HERE

 

Teacher Appreciation Week_ Become a Titan of Literature with Mrs. Wyatt

Become a Titan of Literature with Mrs. Wyatt

By: Kimia Pourali

In honor of Teacher Appreciation week this month, I decided to interview my fabulous AP English Literature and Composition teacher, Mrs. Wyatt, to express my utmost gratitude for the wonderful classes, tips, resources, and advice she generously provides for students, ensuring our success in such rigorous courses.

Mrs. Wyatt holds, "bachelor’s degrees in Music, English and Secondary Education from MidAmerican Nazarene University. Her teaching career consists of,

“ten years in the brick and mortar setting, two years with another K12 virtual academy based in Colorado and this will be [her] fourth school year with K12 International Academy."

She is,

"originally from Hacienda Heights, California but [has] lived in Olathe, Kansas; Denver, Colorado; and now lives in Franklin, Tennessee, just south of Nashville." On the topic of family, she mentions, "we have three girls: a fourteen year-old…and twin eight year-olds." She enjoys,

"traveling with [her] family, reading, running, cycling, practicing Pilates and watching [her] girls play soccer or compete in gymnastics.”

She, really enjoys,

“ living in Tennessee and appreciates all the fantastic local music as well as the southern-style home-cooking and family-friendly lifestyle" she discovered in her current home state.”

Reeling back to before I decided to take AP English, frankly, I was somewhat…flabbergasted. I perused the curriculum, reading materials, expectations, work load, and so on, and truly doubted it could be a possible feat. How could I, a student from a household where English is not my mother’s tongue, but rather the third language, possibly make it through such an intensive course, full of analysis of some of the most archaic, to modernist writing styles? Clearly, my worries and prayers were answered when I found out Mrs. Wyatt, who had taught my Literature Analysis and Composition II class in freshman year would be in charge of guiding me, and plenty other curious learners, through these challenging, college-level classes. Mrs. Wyatt has the power and familiarity to take a task so daunting, and break it down into sensible milestones, that both push for growth out of a comfort zone, while also creating a buffer from outright failure.

Simply put, she has her strong expectations, as teachers should have, and they are fully justified because she provides all the tools any student could possibly need. If you ever had the privilege to have her as a teacher, you would likely agree what is most astounding is her extent of knowledge on so much literature, history, old and modern culture, and – most important to students who want to analyze the importance of all these facets – the métier in connecting all these abstract and concrete concepts into ideas that make sense.

Clearly, I have enthused over my gratefulness for Mrs. Wyatt – and the sentiment extends to all our school’s fantastic teachers. With her expertise and interest in student success abound, I desired to illuminate this for our school community to know: you have the opportunity to benefit just as much!

I initiated my questions on our topic by asking what “type” of students should think of taking an AP English class; she exclaimed, “Many students should consider taking AP English classes!” Upon elaboration, “First, students who have met the K12 International Academy requirements should look into AP courses. Second, students who are highly motivated, can follow the course calendar closely, and want to take a college-level course to better prepare for the AP exam and college-level writing expectations should consider taking an AP English course.”

Considering our school offers a couple different AP English classes, I wondered how we should prioritize these classes, and how they can be differentiated in layman’s terms. Mrs. Wyatt encourages,

“any interested students to take AP English Language and Composition first.” She specified, “This provides essential practice of college-level writing and rhetorical analysis,” emphasizing, “students who begin with AP English Language will transition well into AP English Literature and Composition as AP Literature builds upon what students have learned in AP Language.”

Ultimately,

“both courses employ extensive reading and writing; however, AP Language focuses on brief, interesting, non-fiction pieces, whereas AP Literature students read longer novels, plays, and works of poetry.

On the details of curriculum and expectations, Mrs. Wyatt admits,

“Ask any AP English students about the coursework and they will undoubtedly say it is a heavy workload. This is because students write 2-3 practice essays in each unit, in addition to taking a unit exam that is similar – although much shorter – in format to the AP English exams. AP English courses are challenging!” Nevertheless, Mrs. Wyatt countered this plausible factor of intimidation – workload – by reiterating what students gain from these classes; “most will say they were prepared for college-level writing expectations. Students also have the opportunity to take the AP exam in May and earn college credits based on their AP Exam scores. This is a bonus!

” Indeed, it is, and if your institution of interest doesn’t offer credit, they may use your scores or class performance as placement markers.”

She concluded by reinforcing student confidence, and advising

“students who are interested in AP English to speak with their current English teacher to find out if they are ready for an AP English course.”

Students can also talk to Mrs. Wyatt, herself, or one of our own iGlobe Advisors, Mrs. Hartmann, for, more information on AP English courses and prerequisites.

Thank you so much to Mrs. Wyatt for her interest in this interview, and an even larger thank you to her as one of our school’s remarkably valuable teachers, and, for any of you iGlobers reading this who are interested in taking AP English classes, I hope this managed to be enlightening and reassuring in your pursuits!

P.S. Be sure to thank a teacher for Teacher Appreciation Week, and whenever else!

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K¹² International Academy Celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week

K¹² International Academy Celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week

By Janelle Chuah

How has your teacher(s) impacted your life? If I were to answer that question exactly and specifically, it would at least three pages, single spaced, (no exaggeration intended J). However, the objective of this post is not to tell stories, it is to inform my teachers that I appreciate all they have invested into my life throughout my high school years. Teachers are often taken advantage of and underestimated, but truly, what they do is life-changing. Teachers prepare us for the future, whether that is college, military, or working. They mold our minds, hearts, and personality.

Many times, when I communicate with my teachers, I learn life lessons that I know I will keep with me for the rest of my life. One of the most significant lessons I learned from a teacher was to know that I cannot get everything right all the time. In other words, failure is part of nature. I was in a study hall session to review my quiz mistakes and I spoke to my teacher about how I was so frustrated with myself because I would often get 4/5 but rarely 5/5. My teacher’s comforting words made me feel proud of myself and know that at least I scored some points. My teacher changed my perspective on grades and influenced me to take pride in my work, where necessary.

Another lesson I learned from my teachers was everyone goes through hardships. As a student, or rather a teenager, I tend to think that my problems are the worst in the world. Sometimes, I also think that the reason why I experience hardship is because I am not good enough. However, when I hear from my teachers that they struggled during their high school years, I discover, “hey, I am not that bad. “ Right now, I am taking AP US History and there are moments when I regret enrolling in the course. I tell APUSH teacher about how difficult it is and in response, she said that she had a similar experience when she took that course. It is a simple response, but it boosted my confidence and made me think, “if my teacher struggled before and now she’s an amazing history teacher, then I can get through this and become someone as awesome as her!”

Teachers are more than educators; they are mentors, a source of wisdom, and just fantastic people to be around. To all teachers, on behalf of the students at K12 International Academy, HAPPY TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK!

K¹² International Academy Student Interviews Paul Anderson

 

By Janelle Chuah

Learning with Technology + An Interview with a YouTuber + Tips on the AP Science Exam

Learning with technology has never been more interesting. Many students today learn within virtual classrooms and attend classes or lectures at the comfort of their own home. Besides accredited online schools and online tutoring, there are also online educational videos. Many of these videos are directed by well-qualified educators and can be found on mediums, such as YouTube and Discovery Education. Other than the fact that these videos are interactive and educational, some of these videos are also great for students who cannot afford to pay for extra assistance. Through these learning methods, educators have understood how technology can efficiently help students to comprehend what they have been taught and learn at their individual pace whilst socializing in a fun and safe environment

Recently, I got an opportunity to interview a YouTuber/Educator named Mr. Paul Andersen. Mr. Andersen has been a science teacher at Bozeman High School in Montana for over 20 years, teaching different sciences, including AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP Physics. He is currently on sabbatical leave to focus on uploading videos and hosting workshops on topics such as using iPads in classrooms and educational technology all over the world.

(In 2012, Mr. Andersen gave a Ted Talk about how incorporating elements of video gaming into schools keeps students engaged and interested about learning.)

Six years ago, Mr. Andersen, a technology enthusiast, created videos on the big ideas of AP Biology for his students in hopes of keeping the students exciting about learning. After uploading these videos on YouTube as a result of a friend’s suggestion, his YouTube channel currently has close to 300 thousand subscribers. His channel has over 500 videos on topics such as Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy, Earth Science, Statistics and Graphing, and all three AP sciences. His videos have collectively been viewed over 30 million times. In addition, he has been chosen to be an EDU Guru, receiving support from YouTube for uploading educational videos. His videos are in such high demand by students all over the world that they have been translated in languages such as French, Spanish, Arabic, and Thai. Now, he is also working on creating the best methods that uses technology to help students live up to their full potential.

As an educator who focuses on helping students all over the world to cope with the AP Sciences material, he believes that it is important for students taking the AP Exam to study over a long period of time, as opposed to cramming for the exam, and utilize the review books. During the interview, he said, “I encourage all of my students to purchase review books for their specific exam. The most important part of review books are the practice tests. Set aside some time in the weeks before the exam to take a practice test. This allows you to focus your studies on the material that you don’t understand rather than wasting study time on everything. Study groups can be helpful if they are productive but individual study time is more important.

” When asked what’s his advice for students struggling with science in general, he replied, “it is difficult to understand larger concepts if you are stuck with simple vocabulary. Learning to read a science textbook is difficult but it is the single best indicator of how students do in my class. It is also a skill that you will need as you move to university.”

Today, because of educators like Mr. Andersen who are supporting the idea of learning with technology, many students have access to more interactive and interesting methods of learning. In fact, students studying for exams like the SATs and the AP Exam can now enroll in preparation courses offered through credible websites such as Kaplan Test Prep and Khan Academy, some of them offering one-on-one tutoring. Learning with technology is not only interactive and interesting, but also effective as proven by the fact that Mr. Andersen’s viewers on YouTube continue to grow. Also, graduates from online schools such as K12 International Academy have enrolled in institutions such as Harvard University, Duke University, and Berea College.

For more information on Mr. Paul Andersen and his videos:

http://www.bozemanscience.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/bozemanbiology/featured

Click here for resources to the K¹² International Academy AP program

Follow K¹² International Academy Students as they travel together through Rome

we are in the Caput Mundi : Roma , the capital of the world .

So it was once upon a time when the Roma itself meant civilization. We are also excited to discover more about this place. In the morning we visited the Vatican , a foreign country. This tiny independent country , contained entirely in Rome , has its own postal system, armed guards , helipad , mini train station and radio station. Small as it is , Vatican city has one huge sight: St. peters basilica. Perhaps there is no instance in western architecture of a building achieving such an arousing success as St. Peters basilica . after launch we drove to the coliseum and Roma forum. The Flavius Amphitheatre is the biggest and most imposing in the roman world , but it is also the most famous monument in tome and it is known as the Coliseum or coliseum. started by emperor Vespasian of the Flavian family , it was opened by its son Titus in 80AD. we have learn that the highly ostentatious opening ceremony lasted one hundred days during which people saw great fights , shows and hunts involving the killing of thousands of animals ( 9000 some say) . For the opening the arena space was filled with water for one of the most fantastic events held in roman times, naumachias _ real sea battles reproducing great battles of the past. the coliseum is one of the most imposing ancient structures. We imagined it all white , completely covered in splendid travertine stone labs . we are in love with Rome … not to mention that we have become experts in ordering gelato!

To follow along on this trip click HERE

Browse through all the memories on Pinterest

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Don’t keep the education solution you’ve found a secret—share it!

Kids always tell us how great the K¹² program is at their school. No struggling to fit in, and their learning is individually focused and flexible. When you’re the new kid at K¹², life is good and keeps getting better.

If your child is thriving with K¹², why not let other parents know so their kids can succeed, too? Now through May 21, 2015 at 5 PM (ET), when you refer your friend to K¹², you’ll be entered in our Refer-a-Friend Sweepstakes for a chance to win a four-day trip to Washington, D.C.! Just fill out this form.*

~K12 International Academy Family

Why is your school AWESOME?

Dear Families:

Is there a new book you want to read? Do you love to read on the go, and sometimes wish you could take more than one book with you at a time? We want to help you out! Share Why Your School is AWESOME for a chance to win one of 3 NOOK tablets, or one of 100 $50 Barnes & Noble gift cards.

Whether it’s your first year using online education or your 5th, we want to know what you love about it.

Are you able to practice a sport or instrument more? Have you conquered a subject? Do you love being able to study anywhere there is wi-fi? Tell us about it.

Submit your story in K12’s ‘Why is Your School AWESOME?’ contest by March 18th, for a chance to win!

Visit stories.k12.com for details and enter today!

Official Rules can be found HERE

Sincerely,

The K12 International Academy & K12 Family

Trailblazing Your Future with K¹² International Academy College Counselors

Trailblazing Your Future with K¹² International Academy College Counselors

By Kimia Pourali

You likely pass many hours interacting with your school and college counselors to acquaint yourselves, allowing them to stand by you at every step of your educational journey. They inquire your interests, assess your challenges, offer personality and learning type tests and other resources, to ensure you are on track, your goals are solidified, and that all your worries are alleviated, and successes are shared.

Yet, have you ever had the chance to know your counselors better? Have they ever told you parts of their life stories, inspirations, and personal interests? After having received immense help from my college counselors, Mrs. Pine and Mr. Berry, I decided to approach them to query their visions and wisdom, and to share all of this with the K¹² International Academy community, to acknowledge and appreciate the assistance we have in blazing our paths to our futures.

Enjoy, and please share in the comments how your awesome school counselor has helped you!

I started my interview by asking them about their personal and educational background. Mr. Berry said,

"I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA in a family of 10. I earned my Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling at the University of Pittsburgh and moved to Maryland, where I have been for the past 20 years. I also have a National Counselor Certificate and am a member of the American School Counselor Association and the National Association for College Admission Counseling. I have a wife, daughter and son."

Mrs. Pine, on the other side of the Upper School, said

"I grew up in Woodland Hills, CA. I have an older sister and a younger brother. I moved to Colorado 5 years ago with my husband, 3 daughters and 2 German Shepherds. My undergraduate degree is in Communications and Studio Arts from Loyola Marymount University and my Master’s Degree is in Education from California Lutheran University. I hold a College Counseling Certification from the University of CA Riverside. I am a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling."

I curiously continued my questions, asking about what inspired each to pursue careers that involve working with students. I always love to know the deeper meaning and reasoning people attach to things in their lives, including vocation, thus, this was a must-ask. Not to my surprise, and, instead, to my pleasure, both Mr. Berry and Mrs. Pine had remarkable stories. Mr. Berry recounted,

"A few years after I graduated from college with a Business Degree, I was in a serious car accident and was not able to walk for a year. During my rehabilitation, I had time to think about a lot of things! I’ve always enjoyed helping people and being a School Counselor gave me the opportunity to be a positive influence in the lives of many young people. Unlike a Social Worker, being a School Counselor provided the environment to work with a wide range of students. I’ve worked with students who had very difficult lives all the way to students who had aspirational goals and just needed some encouragement."

Mrs. Pine exclaimed,

"This is an interesting story! After I graduated from college I opened my own restaurant business with a few partners. We were successful but I was not feeling like this was my life calling. After doing a lot of soul searching, I sold off my share of the business and went back to school. I wanted to do something that I got up every day and was excited about. I absolutely love working with kids so the field of education was a perfect fit for me! Being a part of a child’s educational journey is a privilege and I take it very seriously."

I further requested of our counselors to elaborate upon their roles as online counselors, and their favorite aspects and/or outcomes of counseling. Mr. Berry answered that he,

"had already been in the School Counseling profession for 13 years before coming to K12 International Academy. I knew what programs needed to be in place but I had to figure out how to deliver them in the virtual environment! I was not lucky enough to have Mrs. Pine as my colleague until my third year as a College Counselor. I would say that my favorite aspect of this job is working directly with the students. The online environment provides some additional challenges for the teachers, counselors, and students…not to mention parents. By providing as much support as possible to all of our students, we are able to help build a foundation of success. You may not believe this but I am actually able to get to know many of my students better in the online environment than I was in the brick & mortar environment. We encourage our students to build that relationship throughout their high school career. Whether it is attending one of our weekly Class Connect sessions, reading our monthly newsletter, or asking us questions over K-Mail or Skype, we are here to help.

Mrs. Pine gave a huge thank you to Mr. Berry, and gushed,

"I love being a College Counselor. Holding weekly Class Connect sessions on various aspects of the college application process and college readiness is a big part of my job and connecting with students during this time is great. But my favorite part of the job by far is getting to know students on a personal level as we work towards their college goals. We have such an amazing student population, each with an individual story to tell. I am so lucky to be a part of this time in their lives. The job can be challenging at times when we are working with time zones and the fact that we cannot pull students out of class and into an actual office. BUT, Skype helps a lot with that!"

Considering K¹² International Academy is an international school, with plenty of students from all around the globe, all with various cultural backgrounds, I wondered if such differences served as barriers, or simply made the job of counseling all students more enriching. Both Mr. Berry and Mrs. Pine veered toward the latter opinion; Mr. Berry humored us,

"Believe it or not; the biggest challenge is not the cultural differences but the time zone differences!" He elaborated, "Since our school is an American based curriculum and most of our students are interested in attending U.S. universities, we are all ‘speaking the same language.’ I absolutely enjoy talking with students from around the country and across the globe. It is so fascinating to learn about their lives and cultural experiences. Learning about our students’ lives helps me to understand their situations more thoroughly and assist them accordingly."

Mrs. Pine built upon this answer, exclaiming,

"I have never found our International school status to be an issue in connecting with students. On the contrary, I find it fascinating to learn about the goals our kids have both domestically and internationally. I think our kids are really on it. You have to be when you are working in a virtual environment!"

Again, concerning K¹² International Academy’s status as a distance education provider, I was interested to know how our fantastic College Counselors translate everything they learn and favor in their students into a thorough letter of recommendation. This endeavor of theirs piqued my interest particularly compared to the face-to-face and more personal interactions and exposures to student personalities and works that college counselors would typically have in brick-and-mortar schools. When asked what factors and traits are necessary to consider, Mr. Berry outlined a few of K¹² International Academy’s tools for seniors, stating,

"In working with the seniors, we have several ways to get to know them. A key tool that we use is the ‘Counselor Recommendation: autobiographical sketch,’ which is posted in Family Connection. This questionnaire was specifically designed for our unique program as an online school. I have found that I am able to learn a great deal about our students while working with them on their college applications. Whether it is from the questionnaire or frequent Skype conversations, I feel quite confident that I am able to clearly represent the students in my recommendation letters." Mrs. Pine wrapped up the topic, affirming, "Yes, Mr. Berry said it all. We make all efforts to get to know our kids very well before standing behind a letter of recommendation."

As a student who is interested particularly in selective colleges and Ivies, I have always wondered how "online schooling" appears to Admissions Officers. Do they have the common stigma that we’re all socially inept and receded into online school for such reasons? Or are they fully aware of some of the strengths online school students need, beyond traditional students, such as greater independence, especially in work ethic and structure, and time management? Have you ever pondered the same discouraging things, thinking Admissions Officers may view online schooling as a weakness in an application? Well, no need to fear! According to Mr. Berry,

"as our school continues to grow; we are building a strong record of college/university acceptances. Our School Profile lists very important information about the K12 International Academy to help the post-secondary institutions understand our program. One key component is a representative listing of past college/university acceptances. Admissions Officers look very closely at that list as a way to determine the strength of our program and students. We have had students accepted to an Ivy League school, various highly selective institutions and top technical universities, not to mention several Military Academies. As long as the Admissions Officer knows that we are an accredited high school and sees our record of previous admissions, they feel confident in seriously considering our students."

Mrs. Pine emphasized the actual difficulty of our school’s courses, saying,

"We do a lot of networking with colleges to educate them on our school and the rigor of our courses. Every year the College Counselors attend the National Association for College Admission Counseling Conference where we have additional opportunities to talk to colleges about our program and our students. In addition, our school profile does a good job of highlighting the accomplishments of our students and graduates."

We all know that a huge key to success in our later middle school years, through high school, and further into college rely heavily upon both the personal guidance of our college counselors, as well as the bounty of resources they may provide. Mr. Berry reflected,

"We always say that the College Counselors should not be a ‘bottleneck to important information’," and continued about Family Connection, which appears to be the primary source of various college information, saying, "This is why we have built out a comprehensive set of resources on Family Connection. This site is secure, customized to our school, and available 24/7. We feel that students and parents should be able to do research on their own terms and timelines. When we meet with students, our conversations are very efficient because they have been able to do a lot of background research. Seniors are required to use Family Connection when applying to colleges or universities because the College Counselors need to submit supporting school documents when the student submits his or her application materials. Using such technology allows us to submit our documents electronically and with the confidence that Admissions Offices will receive them on time.

Concerning more direct communication, Mrs. Pine specified,

"Skype is a great tool for us to use for the purposes of online counseling. We are able to screen share tools and resources in Family Connection as well as help our students walk through the application process. Class connect sessions are another way we get our message out to students about the importance of course planning, college admissions factors, the application process, and many other topics. Of course we are always responsive to Kmail."

Further, I thought, with so much experience, there are likely many common questions that our College Counselors receive from students, and even common mistakes students make. Interestingly, the top question, according to Mr. Berry, is as broad as…’How do we apply?’ In response to this, Mr. Berry said,

"We direct students to Family Connection because everything is posted relating to the college admissions process. This starts the process and we then work with families throughout the entire process." Mrs. Pine expanded upon the common questions, including, ‘Do your seniors get into top colleges?’ ‘What are your accreditations?’ ‘Can my student get into a good college graduating from K12 International Academy?’ and ‘How do colleges view your graduates?’ She praises these as, "all wonderful questions and we answer them honestly. Many times a look at our school profile will be helpful but we always take the time to talk to parents and students as long as it takes to help them feel at ease with making the decision to school their child with K12 International Academy."

As a student already engaging in the college searching and admissions process, I also have to consider the plausible pitfalls for students in my position, which encouraged me to ask about the biggest mistakes students make in their college applications and preparation for college, which undermine their chances of acceptance. I further inquired, what our counselors do to help other students avoid those potholes in the road to college. Mr. Berry always offers a scenario to students:

"Imagine that you are now a senior, what would you have done differently as a ninth grader?" This question and students’ answers to it truly emphasize how, "starting the college search early helps to take the pressure off and allows students to develop a strategic plan. For example, knowing which classes are required for college entrance will help students develop a meaningful academic plan. Also, it is natural to ‘fall in love’ with a particular college but students may ‘fall out of love’ upon further exploration. By starting the search earlier, students can build a meaningful list based on their interests and passions…even if they change over their time in high school."

Mrs. Pine specified that,

"I would say not doing proper research and planning," is likely the biggest mistake. She continued, "We encourage our students to create and update their 4-year course plan in Family Connection and as they are doing college research, they should cross-reference their courses to align with the college recommendations and plan of study based on their career path."

In the concluding portions of our interview, I desired to receive a few concise words of wisdom from our wonderful counselors, and know about their own hobbies and favorites.

Firstly, I asked for one, most crucial piece of advice for seniors about to apply to college. Mr. Berry assured,

"Don’t feel like you have to approach this process by yourself. You don’t have anything to prove by doing everything yourself. You also deny yourself the opportunity to learn from others and gather different perspectives throughout the process. Collaboration is important and will ultimately help you to be confident with your choice." I thought this was a tremendously promising note: really, do not ever convince yourself that you do not need help.

Mrs. Pine expanded upon what Mr. Berry stated,

"I think it is also important to think about what you want to do after graduation early on in high school. Research colleges, get on their mailing lists, visit college campuses in your travels, and talk to people you trust."

Second, I asked for their overall philosophy towards life, and for specific quotes/mottos they follow on a daily basis. Mr. Berry exclaimed,

"What a great question….let me think about that!" He mustered the answer, "I would say to hold true to your morals and beliefs. At the end of the day, the only thing that you can control is yourself and those core beliefs will ultimately guide you in the right direction."

Mrs. Pine also lauded,

"wow, really good question," and shared, "a few sayings [we have] around our home. One of them is ‘Never Give Up.’ This can be in relation to any challenge you come across, not just in school but also in life. The second one we like to live by is ‘Fall Down 7 Times, Stand Up 8’." Providing this food for thought, she concluded warmly with a smile, "I will let you think about that one."

Surely, you have engaged in personal conversation with your counselors, teachers, and Academic Coaches, talking about your favorite pastimes and anything else you love and that brings you joy. But, have they ever detailed their own answers for you? Next, I asked about what our fantastic college counselors enjoy in their spare time, when they aren’t busy standing by our sides as we blaze our own trails. For hobbies and entertainment, Mr. Berry reflected,

"Like many parents, I spend a lot of time with my kids’ activities. My daughter is a flute player. Since I have no musical ability whatsoever, the best thing that I can do to show my support is to drive her to concerts, auditions, and recordings! My son loves baseball and I have been a coach for his teams over the years. That, I can do. I also love swimming and recently started doing Open Water Swims. These are great because the events always support a charity and they are a way for me to challenge myself physically. I am currently training for the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim in June. This event benefits The March of Dimes and other local organizations. It is what it sounds like, a 4.4 mile swim across the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, MD. I also enjoy reading a good spy novel or autobiography when I have the time!"

Mrs. Pine joked,

"Sometimes I feel like I am busy 27 hours a day," and, no, that was not a mistake in noting the hours in a day. She exclaimed, "BUT, I do LOVE my free time! I spend a lot of it with my kids in their activities; Marital Arts is a big one around our house. I love to cook and bake as well. Living in Colorado affords us a lot of opportunity to be outside. We like to hike and are part of a Jeep club so we spend many weekends off-roading in remote mountain areas. I begin every day with a workout. Keeping a strong and healthy body is important to me."

As for favorites, I asked for things such as colors, foods, seasons, books, authors, music genres, artists, scientists, actors, emoticons, IM slang—just about anything and however many could have worked.

Mr. Berry started with the easy one,

"when talking over Skype, you’ll see [the thumbs up emoticon] quite often. This one seems to sum it up for me when talking with our students. I am always impressed with our students and confident that they will do what is needed to reach their goals." He noted his favorite color as blue, favorite food as Italian, season as summer, author as Daniel Silva, and music as "stuck in the 80s." For scientists, he said he is "taking [his] daughter to see Dr. Michio Kaku in April," and for actors, declared himself, "too busy to have one!"

Mrs. Pine started with her “LOVE” of chocolate, and how "anything pumpkin is super yum!" She exuberantly noted,

"vibrant colors give me energy and make me smile." For favorite seasons, she chose spring as "by far my favorite season but I also love fall when the Aspen leaves turn bright gold!" As we can easily imagine, she does not, "have the time really to sit down and read or watch movies," and reminded us that she does indeed, "have 3 kids, 2 dogs and a husband…," who, "as a matter of fact, are all sleeping while I am typing this, so, there you have it." She admits, "The only TV show I watch with my kids is ‘Once Upon a Time’." She humorously implores, "Don’t judge me, I know it is a ridiculous show, but we like it." She also noted that she is, "from CA originally so I grew up at the beach, and love the sand, salt air, and tranquility I get from being by the water." She also has, "a huge seashell collection," and her "favorite animal is the dolphin,” since, "they are so free spirited, playful, and intelligent." As for Skype emoticons, she happily confesses, "I kind of overdo the smiley face icon but so much can be said with a simple happy face."

This concludes my interview with our marvelous College Counselors, Mr. Berry and Mrs. Pine! I thank them so much for their interest in participating in this interview, and their willingness to share so much knowledge and wisdom concerning not only the tremendously crucial voyage of students from high school into college, but also about life and joy in general. I truly hope all of you, our readers, have benefited and learned from all their insight. I can say from first-hand experience, Mrs. Pine was so calming for my transition from mixed 8th and 9th grade courses, into being fully in high school, and Mr. Berry has been so encouraging from there on out; his open-mindedness and availability for both myself and outside programs that needed his recommendations and evaluations of my scholastic and extra-curricular performance ultimately allowed me the opportunities to be accepted to and attend selective summer internships last summer and this upcoming summer. All in all, if you have not yet needed to work with either of our jovial and astute college counselors, I promise you are in for fabulous support, and if you already work with them, please don’t ever take their poise and guidance for granted!

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