Read the winning Oregon student essay

Fellow contributing writer to Oregon Women’s Report, Kattarin Kirk, just won the top essay (and a new iPad!!!) from the Oregon Taxpayer Foundation in their student essay competition.   Students and recent graduates were asked to share their educational experience. Kattarin’s essay won the top prize!  You go girl.

My education experience and ideas
By Kattarin Kirk

Public school, private school, home school, charter schools, correspondence schools, online schools, there are so many options in today’s world but what’s the best one? It used to be that there was only one option but now that’s all changed. The question is still there though, which option is best? Does it depend on the individual or is the old saying “one size fits all” still true when it comes to the education of today’s students?

I have a unique perspective on this. My first two years of high school I spent at public school. Some teenagers thrive in social settings while others struggle. Teachers are kept so busy trying to keep control of dozens of students that they have little time to offer one on one attention to any individual. Students requiring extra help are often neglected because of such limited time. Many students fall by the wayside due to lack of resources, self-motivation, and inability to ask for help.

Schedules are another problem; many of today’s teenagers have afterschool jobs. In some cases their work shift starts before class lets out. I was one of these students and spent my junior year in a correspondence program. In some cases these programs tend to be more flexible allowing for students with unconventional lifestyles. There are drawbacks though; correspondence programs make it even more difficult to get help with problems. Unless there is someone to oversee them the student must be very self-motivated, that’s not always likely to happen with teenagers. However if a student is willing to work it’s a great way for them to learn self-discipline.

Most experts agree that teenagers need a structured environment, so where’s the balance? I found it in the form of Sylvie’s River Web Academy. This program allowed me the best of both worlds, I got one on one attention from a teacher who came up to my house once a month to go over my progress and I had twenty-four hour access to help via email. I also learned self-discipline that taught me important life lessons. I was able to work and go to school without the problem of conflicting schedules because I made my own class schedule. What’s more is I was offered a variety of options because I was able to work on the computer and the school wasn’t tasked with finding a teacher qualified to teach each new class. Sylvie’s River gave me the chance to learn without the drama of a big school but avoided the isolation of homeschooling. For me it was the perfect choice.

Whether you’re dealing with a teenager who learns well in social situations or one who’s more withdrawn you have to realize that everyone learns differently. One size doesn’t fit all, alternative options are needed to help today’s teens adapt to this new world without compromising their education.

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