Student Surfs, Spends Time Following Dream
March 27, 2014
In January 2014, Parker Payne didn’t sit in a classroom. He didn’t work at a desk, and he didn’t listen to a teacher’s lecture.
Instead, the 14-year-old eighth-grader traveled to Florida from his hometown in Richardson, Texas, to surf.
Even with traveling, falling behind in school wasn’t a concern for Parker’s parents, Kristin and Mark. Rather than follow a traditional brick-and-mortar school’s schedule, Parker’s new school follows his schedule.
Texas Tech University Independent School District (TTUISD) has given Parker the flexibility to follow his dream wherever the waves take him.
Parker, who became interested in wakeboarding in February 2013 when he saw a friend compete, has made great accomplishments since uncovering his talent, winning a World Championship title in Men’s Amateur Surf and a National Championship title at the USA Wake Surf Nationals.
Kristin and Mark quickly realized Parker’s new hobby would evolve from a pastime into a life style.
That’s why Parker’s parents enrolled him in TTUISD’s full-time, diploma-seeking program in January.
Since his enrollment, Parker said adjusting from a traditional school setting to TTUISD has been easy.
“It was like going to a new school, you just stayed home and took the same classes,” he said. “It's kind of like I get to skip school and just do the homework.”
Being able to move at his own pace, and virtually never miss school, has been a major advantage, Parker said.
Although he was originally worried about keeping friends without seeing them in class every day, the transition to TTUISD has helped Parker make time for old friends, and find time for new ones.
“I'm still connected to all of my friends because I live in the same neighborhood as a lot of my friends,” he said, “plus I see a lot of them when I surf or flowboard.”
For Parker’s parents, jumping off the public school train was scary, but it’s a decision they are glad they made, Kristin said.
While the term “home-school” brought visions of parents and children sitting around a kitchen table to her mind, Kristin said her friends encouraged her to research distance learning options.
After TTUISD was recommend to Kristin by multiple people, and taking online quizzes to determine what learning style would be best for Parker, Kristin chose to enroll him in TTUISD.
With TTUISD, Kristin is able to help Parker focus on his school work, a task that in previous years wasn’t easy. All his life, Kristin said, Parker has taken medication for ADHD. Now, without distractions hindering him, he is off is medication, which is a major achievement, she said.
“Some kids are self-starters, but some aren't,” she said. “Parker can work through the lessons, but I make sure to hang around to be available for questions or just for him to talk through a problem. Homeschooling really takes a lot of the pressure off of ‘school’ with the flexibility of the schedule.”
After trial and error, Kristin said she and Parker have established a school schedule that is adjustable to Parker’s surf practice and competitions.
With the future of education evolving, Kristin said it’s exciting being on the forefront of innovation, and it’s something all parents, and students, should experience.
“Without a doubt,” she said, “give it a try.”