With Amy Threewitt
Why is school choice important to you?
I believe that children are our greatest resource. Educating our children in the way that fits their individual needs and maximizes their potential is the greatest gift we can give them. We live in a world where education is the civil rights issue of our time. All children, regardless of their income, geography, ethnicity, or special needs, should never be denied access to a quality public education.
Why did you become involved with PSO?
I have been involved with PSO since the very first events held in my community. As a mom of five virtual students, I was seeing my family thrive and I realized that not only my family, but all families, deserved to be empowered with choices. When I think of families out there who are struggling and don’t even realize they have options, I feel passionate that we continue to advocate and educate. I knew from the beginning that my heart was truly in this; there is nothing like that feeling when you have a best kept secret and you want to share it with everyone you know!
Why should parents become advocates for their children’s education?
As a parent, we know our children better than anyone else in the world. We know what is best for them. A parent’s knowledge of their child’s needs is far more valuable than any scores on paper, bank ledgers, statistics, or laws. We need to listen to parents and families if we want our children to succeed.
What is your favorite advocate story?
At our 2014 Capitol Day in Wyoming, several parents, students and educators shared their personal stories of the way that school choice has impacted their lives. One mother shared her journey of her autistic son being kicked out of the traditional school system with recommendations that he be institutionalized. Just a couple of years later as a virtual school student, he is successfully reading, writing and succeeding. When he got up to speak there was not a dry eye in the house. A teacher in the back of the room was so touched by these stories that he commented to me that many don’t think of him as a “real” teacher because he doesn’t leave the house, but for the first time he realized that he made a difference. It was a moment that I will never forget.
How has access to school choice impacted your family?
Because of the choices that are available to my children, I have been allowed to look at each of their situations and put them in an environment that has nurtured their success. My oldest child is embarking on her senior year with Wyoming Virtual Academy and has benefitted from virtual learning because she is a high achiever and has been able to take the classes she has wanted at the accelerated pace that she wants. As a result, she has earned many credits for college and has enjoyed setting very high goals for herself. She has never felt held back by the confines of a brick and mortar classroom, and her virtual school teachers and guidance counselor have set her on a very personalized education path. My teenage son is getting ready to start ninth grade in the International Baccalaureate Program at a brick and mortar high school. After several years of virtual school in the elementary years where he was able to learn at his own pace, he pursued a semester of study at the local community college as well as a year at a very small private school. I believe that the choices that we made for him as a family is what has equipped him with the skills to succeed in high school. I believe that his ADHD gifted brain would have not been challenged and he wouldn’t be where he is today if we hadn’t adapted to fit his needs and sought out different options for him. I am the proud mom of twin girls who will be starting sixth grade in the fall and couldn’t be more opposite and unique; while one has dyslexia and slow processing issues and benefits from the team of caring teachers who are her “cheerleaders”, the other is an accelerated learner who has benefitted by these same teachers in a different way. Both girls have benefitted from the virtual model so much because they learn in their own individual way, and I am so proud to see that. My youngest son is entering fourth grade in virtual school and has done virtual since kindergarten. He is an above average who absolutely loves learning. I believe he is a good example of the virtual model because his idea of learning is discovery, and he has never been held back in his learning or goals by the limits of a classroom. As you can see, having a large family with unique children illustrates beautifully the way that education cannot be “one size fits all”, and families who utilize the options available to them are helping their kids succeed!
Tell us about your family.
I live in Cheyenne, Wyoming, with my husband Don and my five children. Don is a State Land Manager for the State of Wyoming, and he serves on several state and county boards for community development and planning. In addition, he has been very active in historic preservation, and currently serves as the Vice President in charge of finance for the Cheyenne Little Theater. I am a busy mom who juggles being a learning coach to four of my children, managing a small business, advocating for school choice, and being active in the arts, scouts, and church in my community. Our entire family enjoys outdoor adventures together, such as camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and hunting. We also participate in community theater productions and volunteer projects, and civic participation together.
If you were a condiment, which one would you be and why?
I would be honey, because, just as the saying goes, “ You can lead more flies to honey than to vinegar.” This saying can definitely be related to advocacy. If our message is negative, bitter, or sour, we will never sway people’s minds, but if our message highlights the positive aspects of school choice and of our experiences, we will capture the hearts and minds of more people.
Winter, spring, summer or fall?
I definitely love all seasons. There is so much to do in the Rocky Mountains and the Snowy Range Mountains year round. I just wish the warm seasons lasted a little longer!
Aisle or window seat?
Top 3 on your 25 most played list?
While I love a variety of music, chances are you would probably hear some U2, some Lenny Kravitz, and a Broadway showtune.:)
Bonus: Favorite board game
I absolutely love a game called “Ticket to Ride”. I also enjoy “Scattergories” and “Apples to Apples”