Colton Sheets was diagnosed with leukemia at age three; his only option for public education is virtual school
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – PublicSchoolOptions.org released a new web video, “Lifeline,” which tells the heart-wrenching story of 10-year-old Tennessee Virtual Academy (TNVA) student Colton Sheets, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age three. For Colton, TNVA is the only school he’s ever known and his only option for a public education as he fights cancer.
Colton was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age three and has spent the last seven years in and out of hospitals and in treatment – from chemotherapy, to radiation, to a bone marrow transplant. Due to Colton’s severely weakened immune system, he cannot attend a traditional brick and mortar school with other students because he would not be able to fight off simple germs and illnesses like a cold, the flu, or chicken pox. For the Sheets family, TNVA is their only option for educating Colton.
As the video explains, public virtual school provides a sense of normalcy for Colton, which cancer has mostly stripped away from his childhood. This option allows Colton to continue fighting cancer while getting a high-quality education and staying on track with his peers. Even while going through a bone marrow transplant, which took the Sheets family over 2,000 miles away from home for several months, virtual school provided a much needed diversion for Colton and his family as they navigated the treatments and the unknowns of pediatric cancer.
In 2015 there was an effort to close Colton’s school, which serves hundreds of students in Tennessee. Thankfully, a court sided with TNVA students and parents and the school remains open. If TNVA were to close, Colton would lose his only option for education.
Every child’s story is different, but some enter TNVA far behind their peers due to health situations, a disability, extreme bullying, or adoption. Some students have tried other educational options that simply didn’t fit their needs. Public virtual education affords students the opportunity to catch up and get back on track for a successful future.
PublicSchoolOptions.org thanks Tennessee lawmakers and education officials for protecting this public education option for Colton and every other Tennessee family that chooses it. Parents know best and should be given options to determine what educational environment works best for their child.
PublicSchoolOptions.org is a national alliance of over 60,000 parents that supports and defends parents’ rights to access the best public school options for their children. The Coalition supports the creation of public school options, including charter schools, online schools, magnet schools, open enrollment policies and other innovative education programs. Additionally, we advocate for equal access without restrictions to the school that best suits the individual student’s learning needs.