Cyber Schools growing in Michigan


LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – “Cyber School” for kindergarten through 12th grade started about 10 years ago in Michigan.

But it’s becoming more popular for a variety of reasons, from class size to not getting enough attention from the teacher to bullying.

Recently a principal of one online school told 6 News online schools have a lot of benefits and are something families may want to consider.

Most students will do the same routine for 12 years.

But, for 17 year-old Charis Smith, instead of standing in line for a school bus she logs online to her computer.

Online schooling is growing in the state of Michigan.

It’s an alternative option for parents and students that is becoming very popular.

“We have students who fit the entire spectrum of learning. Both from those students who struggle, and those students who are very advanced and everywhere in between. What I can tell you is the common denominator for our online student is the traditional setting didn’t work,” said Heather Ballien, Principal: Great Lakes Cyber Academy.

Charis started online school as a sixth grader because a family member became ill, and they wanted to be together since the family would be traveling out of state.

Charis says enrolling in online school has given her more flexibility to travel and teach violin.

Allowing her to do school work at her discretion “I definitely prefer to do school in the afternoon or at night sometime. But one of the cool things is if you have a time difference, like when I was in Hungary I was able to log in and go into chemistry and hand it in, even though I was 7 hours ahead,” explained Charis.

Heather Ballien is the principal of Great Lakes Cyber Academy in Okemos, an online school that just included a middle school curriculum this year because of the growing need for online classes.

Ballien says traditional schools have problems. “The intolerance that’s happening that leads to bullying causes students to seek alternatives. We do see an increase in those students for a lot of different reasons, including the issue of now transgender,” Ballien said.

Ballien says they encourage and teach student to stay socialize with peers since their school is done online. ”We work very hard to make sure those socialization opportunities to the best of our abilities are available,” Ballien said.

Charis agrees that parents should look at alternatives if there is a problem with their student.

She says more problems can, and do, arise in traditional schools “I have never seen bullying in this school, like ever. I would be shocked if I did. In the classroom you’re constantly with people and i feel that gives people more of an opportunity to make fun of others,” Smith said.

Cyber school has to follow the same curriculum that the legislature puts in place for public school.

A curriculum that, for some, is less stressful and more achievable.

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