How a Bullied Student Regained Confidence with Virtual School
Pattie Dole saw firsthand the destructive effects bullying can have on a child. When her son Anthony started kindergarten a year early, his small size and less-developed social skills set him apart from his classmates. He was also academically advanced, which widened the gap. None of the kids in Anthony’s class befriended him. Shunned by his peers, he was a sad and lonely little boy who wondered if he was somehow unworthy of friendship.
Throughout elementary school, the bullying escalated to others’ teasing, playing cruel pranks, and pushing him around. Having survived a difficult childhood herself, in addition to cancer just before her son’s birth, Pattie was devastated to see her only child miserable. She volunteered at the school so she could witness what was happening—and try to persuade teachers and other adults to intervene. She was shocked when one school employee told her, “Tell your son to hit them back.”
After repeated, futile attempts to initiate changes in her son’s traditional school environment, Pattie felt powerless.
“Being bullied scars a child, but Anthony is strong—I think he’ll use the experience as motivation to make a difference in life.”
Like any loving mom, Pattie tried to boost her son’s spirits. She praised him for his academic accomplishments and his “big heart.” She told him how proud he made her—and that she believed in him. But her words couldn’t undo the hurt or give her son friends.
Then Pattie received the news she’d always feared: her cancer had returned. She and her son relocated to be closer to family. Although worried about her condition, they were hopeful that a new school would give Anthony a fresh start.
Instead, they found that the years of bullying had robbed him of the confidence and social skills he needed to break into the close-knit community. Compounding the problem, the overcrowding of the middle school squeezed Anthony out of the honors courses he qualified for, leaving him restless and bored—and taking classes that didn’t challenge him. Once again, he found himself shunned and bullied.
When Anthony started high school, Pattie’s health deteriorated again. He had missed so much school to stay by her side that administrators wanted to hold him back a grade. For Pattie, this was the last straw. She and her son had already discussed online school, but the idea of having her already-frustrated son repeat ninth grade spurred her to take action.
“I’m thankful that we found KCA—it’s been such a blessing.”
The two discovered Kansas Connections Academy (KCA) through an online search, and the more they learned, the more virtual high school seemed like a perfect fit. Best of all, with the flexibility of online school, Anthony could complete what he’d missed in ninth grade and move on to tenth within the same year. At her son’s urging, Pattie signed him up.
Almost immediately, she noticed a difference. “He began to blossom. There was no black cloud over his head, no dreading each day. My son could wake up and feel good about himself and his accomplishments,” Pattie said. “I’ve never had to nag him. He immediately took control of his schoolwork and managed his own schedule. With Connections Academy, Anthony has everything he needs to succeed.”
And succeed he has! Anthony has earned mostly A grades with an occasional B in his honors classes, and he has continued to develop his interest in writing. Now just 15, he has already been published in the local newspaper and won a contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“Anthony is regaining his confidence and improving his social skills, so I know he will be ready for college.”
No longer exposed to a hostile environment, Anthony is developing his social skills, too. “With KCA, communication is built into the curriculum. During LiveLesson® sessions, students participate in class discussions where they express their points of view and comment on each other’s opinions. They also get to socialize while working on group projects,” Pattie explained.
“Anthony has always been very literate, so practicing communicating online worked well for him, which is important because telecommuting is the wave of the future. He’s learned to deal with a negative comment by using humor, and turning it into a positive. Now he instant messages with classmates and has had the opportunity to meet some of his online friends in person at the social events held by the school.”
Pattie feels strongly that his time at Kansas Connections Academy has helped prepare her son for life beyond high school. “He is connected with his teachers and has built good relationships with them. His school counselor directed Anthony to resources for exploring his two career interests, computer programming and culinary arts, and has helped work them into his curriculum,” she said.
Perhaps most important, Pattie believes attending virtual school has been a healing time for her son. “I’m thankful that we found KCA—it’s been such a blessing. Anthony is regaining his confidence and improving his social skills, so I know he will be ready for college. Being bullied scars a child, but Anthony is strong—I think he’ll use the experience as motivation to make a difference in life.”
Show your support for National Bullying Prevention Month this October! If you have a success story or an inspiring message for children who have experienced bullying, please share it in the comments.