Bright Kids, Bullied Kids: How Online Schooling Saved Them
The culmination of National Bullying Prevention Month is a great time to look back at some success stories from formerly bullied kids who found ways to overcome bullying and focus on their education. What follows are two stories of bright kids who found a refuge from bullying in online education and are now flourishing in school without the distraction of being bullied. Read on for some inspiration as we near the end of our campaign to promote Zero Bullying!
After being homeschooled through third grade, Taylor went to a brick-and-mortar school, but it was difficult for her. “People made fun of any little thing I did, and I felt ashamed for who I was,” she explains on K12’s Stories site. So began years of searching for a better path, as bullies forced Taylor from one school to another. As the new kid, she found herself on the outside looking in at the “tight knit, popular brigade.” A bright student, she enjoyed learning. “I was always in the library,” she says. “I had found it as a safe house; nobody could push me down or laugh at my lack of everything.” She longed to be “popular and cool. All the things I wanted to be, yet never was.”
Finally, after an unhappy tenth grade at yet another new school, she enrolled in the Idaho Virtual Academy—a full-time, public online school—and her life has changed, dramatically. In her words:
“I am enjoying it thoroughly. I have two friends [and] have learned something great and wonderful. I had let those people define who I was, and it made me miserable. They taught: ‘Happiness lies in how many friends you have or how popular you are.’ Looking back, I laugh at this idea. Popular is a figment of imagination. It’s a scam! Let yourself define what your happiness is. Achieve whatever you want, and don’t let ideas of the crowd sway you. I am now free, because I realize that I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
“This story is true. I hope you use it as a beacon of hope.”
When Savannah was in elementary school, she had a few good friends and even joined the band, but the cruel bullying became a real problem for her. “Everyone knows the saying ‘Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you,’” she writes on the K12 Stories site. “Well, the pain from a stick will hurt for a few days but the pain from cruel words may hurt for the rest of your life. In fifth grade, regular math was too easy. I was taught eighth grade math. Because of that, kids wanted me to give them answers and I always said no. So they would make fun of me. I soon began to lose some of my friends.”
Then, more bad news for Savannah: The gifted program was shut down after fifth grade, cutting her off from academic growth. And, over time, “the bullying got horrible.” Fortunately, the family had planned to move and build their own house and, when this happened, she enrolled in Georgia Cyber Academy, a full-time, public online school.
Says Savannah, “This changed my life; I was able to focus on my school work and not be bothered by other people. It also made room for me to advance in piano. I made new friends and I have learned many new things!”
Being Bullied for Being Bright Can Be Fixed
Sometimes, brick and mortar schools clamp down effectively on bullies and a bright kid can breathe more easily again. But it’s not always possible, even with the best intentions. That’s when parents need to learn about their options.
During this National Bullying Prevention Month of October, we’ve presented many posts about this serious, widespread problem (more than one in four kids report being bullied during their school years!).
If your child is one of them, as Taylor says above, her story can be “a beacon of hope.”
Michael Solow has worked as a teacher, journalist, and commercial writer/creative director. Michael has also taught high school English and junior high math, gaining his teaching certification from Vassar College and a master's degree in the teaching of writing and literature from George Mason University. His writing has been published in the New York Times, the San Francisco Review of Books, TheMorningNews.org, and the Hemingway Review. He is the proud dad of two grown daughters and the happy husband of an elementary school librarian.