I am constantly responding to questions about my daughter, Celiah’s, choice in education. She just turned 13 and recently started her 4th year at the Electronic Classroom Of Tomorrow. I couldn’t be happier with her decision. ECOT is a tuition free K­12 online school in Ohio and a refreshing choice for parents and kids in the state who are interested in exploring their options. Besides just being unaware that this option is available, most people have misconceptions about what ECOT actually is. Before, we get into why ECOT works for Celiah, let’s squash a few of those misconceptions first.

ECOT is not “home schooling” ­ This is probably the biggest misunderstanding. ECOT is school attended primarily online while at home or in any remote location. The term home school has been historically used to describe school taught at home by parents using a variety of different curriculum, non­standard lesson plans and sometimes questionable teaching techniques. ECOT is an online school taught by experienced and certified teachers following the exact same curriculum and testing standards that students are subject to in conventional brick and mortar schools.

ECOT is not a private school. ECOT is a public charter school and open to all Ohio residents. it is tuition free. Computers, tablets, internet service, supplies, the amazing field trips, clubs, events and more all are part of every student enrollment. Not to mention the amazing teachers, staff and technical support too!

ECOT is not a school specifically designed for kids who have been bullied. While the school’s unique format does provide a safe and distraction ­free learning opportunity to kids who have been bullied, it also provides a safe and distraction­ free learning opportunity to ALL kids... no matter who they are or where they reside in Ohio. Imagine that!

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Looking back at Celiah’s last few years of school, I am 100% certain that her decision to attend ECOT was the right one, and here are some reasons why.

Diversity

ECOT’s unique position as a "state" school compared to a conventional brick and mortar city or neighborhood school is making a difference for my daughter in ways that don’t necessarily show on her report card. I believe that so much more comes from a child’s education than a passing grade. Rather than sharing lockers, hallway gossip and lunch tables with other kids all of the relatively same background, socioeconomic status and all from the same subdivision, Celiah interacts with classmates and teachers from across the state... from Cincinnati to Cleveland... all backgrounds and statuses. She is undeniably one of the most grounded and humble 13 year olds you will ever meet. She has an open caring heart that easily relates to others regardless of their looks, learning ability, or where they’re from. And her view of the world is so big and so beautiful. It’s inspiring. I give ECOT a ton of credit for not only helping my daughter to be a star student but also for helping me as a parent to foster an environment where diversity is not only talked about but experienced in my child’s daily life. I believe that the time she invests in ECOT will help her comfortably launch into adulthood and the working world much faster and easier than others her age.

School Life Balance

Celiah's ECOT feature on her passion for dance 

One of the most shocking realizations when Celiah first started at ECOT was the amount of unreserved time that was instantly made available to her during her school day... all without sacrificing any of her education. The ECOT online model eliminates much of the wasted time between things like public school transportation, assemblies, drills, schedule filler classes like study hall and homeroom and all of the other non­-valuable activities that make up a 10 hour workday for a typical student. I always try to remember that my daughter is still a kid and needs the time to explore her interests, work on her hobbies, and be herself. With ECOT, the time Celiah invests towards her education is used so much more efficiently. With all of this new free time, Celiah is constantly exploring new interests and hobbies from dance and design to art and technology. I honestly can’t even keep up with all of her projects and plans. She’s even taking an active role in working on and learning from the family businesses. When you combine all of this, you get a kid like mine who not only enjoys learning but gets excited about it every day. I was smiling while I typed that last sentence. Could you tell? What a great feeling!

Learning Engagement

With ECOT, so many factors combine to deliver an exceptional learning experience and path for their students. While traditional brick and mortars and some private schools do offer special programs and ways for students to advance at their best pace, I believe that ECOT is uniquely different.Teaching to the same curriculum, standards and testing requirements as every other public school, ECOTs unique format has removed every speed bump and barrier between Celiah and graduating EARLY from high school. 

I have a background in learning theory and studied it extensively for many years while working in a Learning & Development roles for large corporations. From my experience, it’s quite obvious why ECOT works so well. Simply put, people’s “learning styles” can be identified using 3 categories. Some people thrive and learn best in groups, others learn best by themselves and some learn best by being directly mentored or coached along. What most people need is a little of all 3 categories to actually learn something. I feel the format of ECOT is a wonderful balance of all 3 while other schooling options tend to lean heavy in one of the categories.

For group learning, Celiah attends live daily online classes filled with interaction and participation. For students who may be a little shy or get easily distracted in the brick and mortar classroom, this format can really open up some doors. When Celiah’s completing assignments by herself, the self paced learning is interactive and engaging too with lots of rich media and online/offline components. And for the group of learners who get the most out of mentoring and coaching, there’s a unique experience there as well. The technology that drives the ECOT platform helps to significantly reduce classroom distractions and my daughter directly benefits from this. Teachers have more time to teach to Celiah’s individual needs rather than spending their time handling behavioral problems and other issues with classmates. Celiah receives a significant amount of direct teacher communication, coaching and mentoring as a result via video chats, emails, voicemail messages etc.

Celiah anchoring an ECOTtv episode from the Ohio Statehouse

ECOT helps me be more involved in Celiah’s education as well as her life. It’s a great feeling as a father to be able to take a break from my work and go check in on what she’s doing in class. Just popping by for a visit, a smile and a “whatcha workin’ on?” ­ Also with all of the assignments and testing being managed through an online learning system, I feel empowered to hop in the online gradebook at any point in the school year to see her progress. This is great for piece of mind but the best part is that with how things are going... I never feel like I even need to check. If necessary I can communicate directly with her teachers via phone. This is also great for piece of mind but yet again, the best part is that I don’t feel like I need to all that often. There are really no barriers for me as a parent to being as involved as I would like to be with my daughter’s education.

It’s obvious that ECOT is changing the paradigm when it comes to childhood education and in all of the right ways.


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