Similar to any average 12 year old, Riley Bosarge enjoys hobbies such as building with Legos, playing Minecraft, learning Hebrew, and memorizing the world map and the periodic table. Yes, you read that correctly. In fact, he can name any country’s capital city and every element of the periodic table.
After spending most of his life attending the typical brick-and-mortar school, Bosarge decided that the traditional classroom was not working for him and was determined to find a solution that allowed him to accelerate academically on his own terms.
As a student who is twice-exceptionally gifted with Asperger Syndrome on the autism spectrum, Bosarge tends to accelerate in the classroom at a faster rate than other students his age. After turning 11, and as he finished up fifth grade, Riley and his mom, Audra Bailey, decided it was best to look into other educational options that could tend to his needs appropriately.
After enrolling Bosarge in Duke TIP, Duke University’s online program for gifted students, Bailey then discovered Alabama Virtual Academy at Eufaula City Schools, also referred to as ALVA. This virtual academy is an online public school available for students K-12 living in Alabama.
Soon after receiving Riley’s impressive PSAT scores, Bailey sent the results to ALVA and asked if it was possible for him to receive a specialized learning plan, as the school was relatively new and they had never done it before. Bailey explained that after working hard on his plan, ALVA was able to create a plan that allowed Bosarge to test out of some core subjects and get him on track in accordance with his PSAT scores.
“ALVA was amazing at getting him a plan that worked for him,” Bailey said, as Bosarge nodded in agreement. “As long as he is showing aptitude and fluency, then he’s able to go at his own pace.”
Since beginning his learning plan in sixth grade at 11 years old, Bosarge has flourished in his online classrooms and is now 12 years old and completing ninth grade. Bosarge explained his success through this program: “It’s easier and I am where I should be academically. It’s really an amazing program, you know? You get to accelerate at your own pace if you need to and if you’re behind they can help you, too.”
Bosarge appreciates the pace of online school. “That’s a really big thing for me,” he said. “That’s one of the main reasons that I wanted to try it out, because I thought if I could go at my own pace then I can conquer the world.”
Functioning similar to a traditional school, there are chat rooms where classes can gather, and clubs and local meetings where students can hang out with other ALVA students in the area. You can also receive one-on-one tutoring and schedule one-on-one meetings with the teachers, which Bailey believes is just one of the great aspects of ALVA that is beneficial for all students, especially those who are gifted like Bosarge.
“For people in South Alabama, this is an option,” Bailey said. “This is an option for your special needs child, whether that’s on the lower end of the spectrum or the higher end. It does not have to be autism. Whether he or she has a learning disability or any type of illness that may keep him or her homebound, if he or she is twice exceptional like Riley, gifted in any way, this is something you can do.”
To learn more about ALVA you can visit its website, alva.k12.com.
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