Education Follows Student to Belize

by KATIE MCKEE

March 07, 2014

My name is Claire Oldham and I am 17 years old. I am currently half way through my senior year and will finish up my courses and graduate in May 2014. In the summer after my freshman year, my family and I moved from a small town in Texas to an island off the coast of Belize (the only English speaking country in Central America). The island is called Ambergris Caye and we live in the only town on the island, San Pedro. My parents are full-time missionaries and my dad teaches at a local school.

We live in a beautiful place with palm trees, beaches and turquoise water. I’ve had opportunities to observe other cultures, learned to sail and I have been snorkeling on the world’s second largest barrier reef. The best part of living here has been the time I’ve had with my family. None of us are as busy as we were while living in the USA, and we have more time together. There are no school groups or extracurricular opportunities for me here, but I am thankful for the extra time with my parents and siblings.

Q: How have you liked TTUISD since starting?

A: It took a while for me to get used to taking courses online! My only experience up to that point was a traditional Texas public school so it took some time to figure out a schedule that worked best for me. After that first year of experimenting, I did enjoy the system and the freedom to work at my own pace.

Q: How does TTUISD help you balance your extracurricular activities and schoolwork?

A: The way TTUISD is set up allows students freedom to work whenever and wherever it is convenient. During my first year, I spent my mornings volunteering in a kindergarten classroom at the school where my dad is a teacher, called the Island Academy. Then I’d work on my courses in the afternoons. I found that although I enjoyed volunteering, I needed to spend more time on my schoolwork. I ended up using my time like a normal school schedule because I need some structure in order to really be effective. However, I did love the flexibility to change my schedule if necessary. Each semester my mom and I worked on a schedule to keep me on track, and so that I could have the same time off at Christmas and over the summer as the rest of the family.

Q: What are some advantages of attending TTUISD?

A: The highlights of TTUISD are schedule flexibility, as well as being able to work from anywhere in the world (as long as there’s internet). The main benefit for me was how the system has prepared me for college. The skills that a person needs to be successful in TTUISD are similar to the skills needed for college life. For example, I really had to learn time management and responsibility. Without a teacher there to give out assignments and due dates, it is up to me to get the work done. I feel like the transition to college will be easier for me now. I am hoping to attend Texas Tech University in the fall of 2014.

Amy, Claire’s mother, gives her thoughts on Claire’s enrollment with TTUISD.

Q: What would you want prospective TTUISD parents to know about enrolling their students?

A: I would advise parents to be involved in your child’s education. Whether you live abroad or in Texas, be there to help and encourage. Help your student come up with a schedule and plan to be successful. I would also advise parents to form a line of communication with each course instructor. Each semester I have emailed the teachers to introduce Claire and our situation living abroad. Most have been very receptive and appreciative

Q: How has TTUISD impacted Claire’s life?

A: TTUISD has been a very large part of our experience living outside the USA. I do not know what we would have done without the opportunity for both our daughters to be enrolled and taking Texas courses. Though there are struggles and challenges with the program, I am grateful that my daughters have had an opportunity for a proper education. Our choice to live outside the USA changed so much of our lives, but it makes me happy that they can still receive a quality education.

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