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Virtual School 3.0 with Kirk Spahn

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Trying to decide which type of school is best for your child is a tricky proposition at best. If the child is an elite athlete striving to reach the highest levels of the sport, it becomes even more complicated.

In this week’s podcast, Lisa chats with Kirk Spahn, a former collegiate tennis player who is the mind behind Dwight Global Academy, an online extension of the prestigious Dwight School based in Manhattan. We think you’ll find the conversation very (pardon the pun!) educational and eye-opening!

The following is an article written by Kirk and his head of school, Louisa Childs, for ParentingAces:

5 Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Online School

At some point in your child’s tennis career, you will likely wonder whether there is a better option than your child’s traditional “brick and mortar” school. You may feel that the 8 am to 3 pm school day does not allow your child enough time for coaching and practice. The school may not be able to accommodate your child’s need to travel for tennis tournaments. Or, your child may feel pulled between school and tennis, causing anxiety for the whole family.

For many parents, an online school provides a seemingly perfect solution to these challenges; their child stays in school and completes his/her education, and simultaneously has more time and flexibility to devote to tennis.

But all online schools are not the same. Before going online, families should ask these five questions to ensure that the online educational experience they choose prepares their child for success in college and beyond.

  1. Does the school offer an authentic school experience? Look for an online school that provides students with real-time, virtual-classroom seminars in which they interact with teachers and each other in the way they would on campus. These discussions are essential to advance student learning and will ensure that your child pursues his/her dreams in tennis without sacrificing their education.
  1. Does the school teach time-management skills? Some online schools allow students to study at their own pace, whereas others require students to meet certain deadlines and learn time management and organization. Many college coaches are looking for the latter approach; they need assurance that the recruit, once in college, will succeed in balancing a demanding tennis schedule with academic deadlines.
  1. Is the school academically rigorous? For families who wish to ensure that their child receives a stellar education while achieving the flexibility needed to focus on tennis, academic rigor of the online school is critical. College admissions officers will also look to rigor in determining whether the student has the skills needed to succeed in their college. Are advanced level and honors classes available? May a child be placed in a class above his/her grade level? For Division I and II colleges, classes must be NCAA-approved.
  1. Do the school’s faculty provide personalized attention? Students thrive when given appropriately tailored attention by dedicated teachers. The relationship between students and teachers is critical. Key questions to ask: Will my child get to know and have access to teachers? If my child has a question, how is it answered and in what time frame? Will my child interact personally with his/her teacher in an online class, or are students learning from a computer program?
  1. Does the school have a track record of college acceptances for athletes? Look for a school that has experience placing students on competitive tennis teams. College guidance should start as early as Grade 9, and should be led by dedicated counselors who are familiar with NCAA requirements. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you feel forced to work with a private college guidance counselor because the school’s staff isn’t guiding your child appropriately.

As long as you receive satisfactory answers to these questions, your child is well-positioned to succeed in online school.

This piece was submitted by Kirk Spahn, a Trustee, and Louisa Childs, Head of School, of Dwight Global Online School.  Dwight Global is the online program of Dwight School based in New York City and founded in 1872.  Kirk, who played tennis at Dartmouth College, understands firsthand the needs for flexibility and academic rigor in pursuing one’s passion for tennis.  As Head of School, Louisa works to help scholar-athletes achieve their dreams on and off the court.

To learn more about Dwight Global School, click here.

To contact Kirk, click here.

A big thank you to STØNE for our music! You can find more of his music at

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