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Keeping All the Balls in the Air

May 21, 2008 12:24 PM

With the flexibility provided through the K12 curriculum, Zach and Sam Kennedy shine on—and off—the court.


Handling their first tennis rackets as toddlers. Playing competitive junior tennis at age 5. Helping dad teach tennis to inner-city Atlanta kids. Teaching tennis to the children of battered women at a local homeless shelter. Competing in doubles and singles junior tennis tournaments. Prioritizing family, education, and community above all else. Zach and Sam Kennedy, ages 12 and 11 respectively, are not your typical pre-teen boys.

And they don't attend your typical brick-and-mortar school. Instead, Zach and Sam are enrolled in the Georgia Virtual Academy (GVA), an online public school that uses an innovative curriculum developed by K12. Although GVA is relatively new, the K12 curriculum has been around for years. Tens of thousands of students across the country and around the world currently learn using the K12 curriculum.

For the Kennedy family, discovering GVA and the K12 curriculum "was a godsend," says Mr. Kennedy. "With the K12 curriculum you've got a combination of technology and traditional materials. The books, online assessments, and the online tools really help Sam and Zach stay interested in what they're learning."

Making busy schedules work with K12
On a typical weekday, by the time the boys log on to the K12 Online School to review their assignments and goals and begin their schoolwork, they've already gone for a swim with their dad and eaten breakfast. Zach and Sam normally tackle three subjects before the break for lunch, which is followed by tennis practice with their dad, who happens to be a certified tennis instructor. Post tennis practice, the boys finish their schoolwork for all of their classes by late afternoon.

Zach and Sam appreciate the flexibility that comes with the K12 curriculum. "We can really do our subjects when we have time to," says Zach. "We also travel a lot with our schoolwork because of tournaments. It just works for us."

What K12 brings to the match
K12 is the leading online learning provider in the United States. Whether a student is an elite athlete—or only watches and plays sports for fun—K12 offers talented, growing minds a curriculum that's flexible, yet challenging, and that works with any schedule. The K12 lessons are designed from the onset with online delivery in mind. This 21st-century approach to learning blends beautiful, well-crafted books and materials with online lessons. K12 families also receive assessments, planning tools—even supplies for science experiments—and dedicated teacher support.


As Mrs. Kennedy says, "It's easy to stay organized with the K12 curriculum. There are so many resources for the kids—including the books and the extra practice online." Eleven-year-old Sam adds, "If I need any help with my work, I can always talk to my teacher. She's really nice."

The award-winning K12 curriculum is available tuition-free to full-time students in grades K-12 via online public schools in 17 states and the District of Columbia. Elsewhere, it is available both full- and part-time through the private K¹² International Academy, or by direct purchase of individual or bundled courses.

Zach and Sam currently compete in local, regional, and national doubles and singles tournaments in the age 14 group—bringing their school along with them. So whether they're at home, on the road en route to a tournament, or in a hotel during a tournament, Zach and Sam keep up with their education—and their tennis.

Sharing talent to help strengthen a community
Having flexibility in their schedules also allows the boys to give back to their community. Mr. Kennedy is both president of and lead instructor for the nonprofit South Atlanta Community Tennis Association. The association provides a range of affordable, community-based tennis-related activities for the purpose of enhancing the quality of life for all residents of the Southside of Atlanta.

By the time Zach and Sam entered middle school, through their father's work and their own volunteer efforts, Zach and Sam had met and worked with the children of battered women; Spanish-speaking children struggling with their English; and kids and adults who would not normally have the opportunity to be safe and active outdoors while learning a skill with such individualized instruction.

Consider what Zach's and Sam's efforts bring to those they help teach—a safe haven; hours devoted to fun and physical activity; the chance to shine; the opportunity to make friends. And consider what the boys' efforts bring to them—the opportunity to meet and become friends with people from diverse backgrounds, and the chance to do what they love while helping to strengthen a community.

For Mr. Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy, the impact that Zach's and Sam's volunteer work has on both their sons and the community is irreplaceable.

"It's not important to me that Zach and Sam become professional tennis players," Mr. Kennedy says. "I want to raise young men who serve their community."

To learn more about the K12 curriculum and programs, visit K12.com/tennis or call 866.968.7512.




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