Cyber schoolers prepare for first day of class

CBS 21

As most kids finish at least their first week of school, one group is preparing to go back but not to the classroom. Cyber schools like the Commonwealth Charter Academy will kick off their classes on Tuesday.

“I still get a great education and it's really not much different,” said 8th grader Karson Hair, who attends CCA.

Instead of hitting the stores for back to school swag or checking his bus route, Karson is simply enjoying his last few days of summer. His classroom is right downstairs in the family’s home office.

“The whole program is just kind of tailor-made to him. It's a lot more personal,” said Suzanne Hair, Karson’s mom.

For the past six years, Karson has excelled in his virtual classroom. His family says CCA’s curriculum helps him to investigate his interests in science and literature while providing flexibility for his schedule.

“I can work on weekends. I can work in the evenings. I can work anytime I want,” Karson said.

Karson is one of about 2,000 CCA students in our area and more than 40,000 cyber schoolers across the state. Even though the setup looks different from the traditional school, many of the goals are the same.

“We try to have them think critically, persevere and build their self-esteem,” teacher Lori Mitchell said.

Inside Commonwealth Charter Academy in Harrisburg, Mitchell teaches live lessons through web cams, interacting with students while building personal relationships.

“If you do it the right way, it can be really awesome,” Mitchell said.

That interaction is important to the complete growth of the child. The school also offers chances to make sure the kids socialize with their peers.

“There are so many field trips and all sorts of in person events that I've made a lot of friends from school,” Karson said.

Suzanne believes her son is not only getting a better education through cyber school, but fulfilling a lot of interesting lessons.

“It all works out. He's well-rounded and happy,” she said.

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