By Shannon B. Henry
As a military family, we feel compelled to serve so that everyone may have the gift of freedom. My husband puts his life on the line to protect it, while my daughter and I do everything we can to support him. We take words like “choice” and “freedom” very seriously, and believe in education options for all learners. Military families face challenges that most Americans cannot relate to. Kids like my daughter, Ginny, who struggle with ADHD have additional obstacles to overcome. For our family, the solution to both has been Pennsylvania’s cyber charter school system.
When COVID hit, I was teaching at the brick-and-mortar charter school my daughter attended. It is a WONDERFUL school and we were all very happy. Due to the virus however, everyone in the world had serious and understandable concerns about the education system. "School on a computer!?!? SERIOUSLY!?!?"
While others went back to in person instruction, we transferred Ginny to PACyber. For our daughter, it turned out to be a platform for learning that gave her the opportunity to do her very best work. The lack of distractions, bullies, and general stress has enabled our 7th grader to thrive. Is it easy? No, absolutely not. However, we’re very blessed that I can work with her awesome teachers to give her a complete, hands-on education, while staying together as a family.
My husband joined the US Army Reserves in 2012, following 9 years active duty in the United States Marine Corps. When called for duty, he is forced to be away from home for extended periods of time. Thanks to the flexibility of cyber charter schooling, we were able to pack up our family and move to Wisconsin for several weeks. My child was able to continue learning while on base. We enjoyed hiking and learning about the history of the area. She was able to be with other military children. We shopped at the commissary and were awakened by the playing of “Reveille” every morning, immersed in the full experience of living on base in military life. Seeing her Dad in uniform every day deepened the pride in my daughter's beautiful heart.
My husband, daughter, and I together serve our great nation so that everyone has freedom. How dare legislators work to take away the “freedom to choose” that my daughter needs and my family works so hard to ensure! Education choice has allowed my daughter many unique, personalized experiences that she wouldn’t have been allowed otherwise. Military life is challenging for many reasons; but for us, working together to do what is best for our family makes our commitment, respect and love for each other even STRONGER. The freedom to make decisions for our children’s’ benefit is essential and is a right that should not be denied.
Shannon B. Henry received her BA in Music Performance and BS in Music Education from Geneva College. While teaching full time, she finished her MA in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Reading. Shannon is a 22-year veteran teacher having taught in 3 states. When not taking an active role in her daughter’s education or volunteering her time serving military families, Shannon enjoys crafting and spending time with her 2 very spoiled Labrador Retrievers.
The Henry Family (Ginny, Shannon and Christopher)
Staff Sergeant Christopher Henry with his daughter, Ginny.
Housing used during WWII as an internment camp (being studied in coursework), giving Ginny real-life connections.