Kachemak Selo and other schools off the state road system make it challenging for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District to provide education to the borough’s younger residents. Add to that a mixture of languages, religions, cultures and family situations and the challenges only increase.
That’s where the Connections program comes in handy, a homeschool program offered solely to students within KPBSD.
On the southern Kenai Peninsula, from Ninilchik south, there are approximately 237 students enrolled in the program, according to Connections principal Lee Young.
“Most families are what I would call traditional homeschool families, homeschooling kindergarten through 12th grade,” said Young. “We have some students that might be independent students, completely on their own. Some students may even have children. Some may have medical needs that prohibit them from being in traditional school.”
If a student is hospitalized, the program will work with hospital staff to help the student stay current with his or her studies. Occasionally, there have been individuals over the age of 20 that need a class or two to finish their high school education, and Connections has helped achieve that goal.
Spring break is this month, but for many homeschoolers, vacations happen on their own time schedule, if at all.
“I would say every family is different regarding the school schedule, but overall I’ve found traditional homeschool families educate year-round,” said Young. “They maybe get a little break at certain times like a traditional school schedule, but they tend to keep educating. If they’re going to the beach for a day trip, for example, they typically include an educational component.”
For Zion Jackinsky, 11, homeschool means being able to keep up with her studies as she divides her time a month at a time between family in Ninilchik and family in the Homer area. A lover of writing, Zion penned a piece that offers a glimpse into the day-to-day opportunities Connections offers, how she incorporates it with family and friends and has used it to explore her passion for art and writing.
McKibben Jackinsky is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.