By: Tara K. Sparks
My son, Sullivan Sparks is a 3rd grade student in the North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA) of Johnston County. He made A/B honor roll in February 2020. I’m asking for your consideration in highlighting Sullivan’s accomplishment with the honor roll.
In Sullivan’s short life, he’s lost several beloved family members; including a brother – whom I lost to Trisomy 18 in 2013. Then, in 2015, at the start of the holidays, I was diagnosed with breast cancer – invasive ductile and invasive carcinoma’s. He began kindergarten at McGee’s Elementary in August 2016, I was a month out of my last chemotherapy and last of my operations [implant surgery, chemo port removal and complete hysterectomy].
Needless to say, he had a lot on his mind at 7 years old and the start of his education. But, like his older brothers, Wolfgang (25) and Zachery (23) his test scores were off the charts. Unfortunately Sully’s classroom style was a bit unorthodox. His teachers picked up on this and offered suitable solutions to keep him on task, focused and performing well. With that said, he completed K-2 at McGee’s; I even began to substitute there.
As much as I loved the school life – having been a JoCo employee since 2001 – and the connection with the students. Such great connections with all those kind faces and brilliant minds. I began to pick up some bugs from the school and since my immune system was still compromised, I stayed sick and really wanted to stick close to home. We’d talked about alternative school settings to keep our son engaged.
The NCVA kept making its way into our dinner conversations and before we knew it, we’d applied and “luckily” been assigned a lottery number. We were absolutely thrilled to receive the call from the advisor formally inviting Sullivan to attend the 3rd grade with the NCVA. It’s much more relaxed than traditional school wherein we stay in jammies till after 2nd class most days.
A ‘class’ consists of the students signing into the Class Connect via blackboard. There is a real teacher and real students in the ‘class’. They go over expectations daily. The students are invited to participate in discussion in way of ‘waving’ a hand with a click of a mouse on the hand icon. They are sent to virtual break out rooms in which they get to collaborate with peers one on one. We’ve even been on a few field trips, with a couple more planned.
Sullivan is an extremely kind and loving soul. He’s compassionate, always with a smile..followed by a contagious laugh and will make friends feel like family. First to hop on the bike or the trampoline… ready to lead the way to adventures and good times.
Letter printed with permission of Tara Sparks. Mom said it better than we ever could! Congratulations Sullivan!