Student Focus: Health & Homebound Edition

All of our Florida Virtual School students are each amazing and have unique stories to tell. We’ve showcased athletes, artists, and entrepreneurs—but FLVS offers flexible schedules and personalization to others as well, including those who may not be able to attend a physical school due to health complications.

In our latest edition of our Student Focus blog series, we are honored to feature students who are enrolled with FLVS because they have special healthcare needs.

Eighth grade student Elijah “Eli” Perbtani started with FLVS while undergoing treatment for leukemia. The 14-year-old says, “FLVS allows me to work from the hospital during long infusion days or at home when I’m feeling well enough.”

Eli’s favorite subject is science, and he’s passionate about video games, football, and basketball. In fact, Eli recently became the “newest member” of the University of Florida Gators Men’s Basketball team. The whole UF team visited him at his house as a special surprise.

Eli wants to attend the University of Florida and be part of the men’s basketball team, as well as “try out veterinary medicine or computer engineering one day.”

His mother, Adrianna, teaches 7th grade Civics with FLVS and says, “FLVS allowed us to have an easy pace and course load for schoolwork as treatments became tougher for Elijah. All the teachers have been extremely accommodating, sweet, and invested in his success.”

When asked if he had a teacher he’d like to thank, Eli named Mr. Robert Kreider, M/J US History teacher, “for making me laugh during DBAs.”

Elijah started back in his physical school in January. Adrianna says, “We look forward to using FLVS as needed throughout his course of treatment.”

Matthew Ferguson was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) days before his 13th birthday. He shared that because of this incurable auto immune disease, he receives 4-5 shots per day (or wears an Insulin Pump 24/7), as well as checks his blood sugar levels more than 10 times per day.  

Today, Matthew is a high school senior attending FLVS Full Time. He says, “With FLVS, I can deal with my challenge however, and whenever, I need to. If I have an issue in the middle of a live lesson, I can go deal with it and catch up with the recording. In a brick-and-mortar school, I would be sent to the nurse and miss the entire class.”

Matthew’s favorite subjects are English and World History. “I love to read and write, and I joined the Creative Writing Club and took AP English Language and Composition to find greater opportunities to improve my writing skills. I’ve had a love of history for a long time as well, one that stems from my love of reading and a fascination with ancient stories.”

The 18-year-old added, “When I’m not writing for school or a club, I am developing a novel of my own, one which has been in the works for quite a while now.”

Matthew’s accomplishments are impressive. He’s a member of the National Honor Society, the National English Honor Society, the Creative Writing Club, History Club, and is the FLVS Full Time Senior Class President. He also is a second degree black belt.

“It’s partly because of FLVS that I have found that I am not limited in what I can do. Not by this disease, not by anything,” he says. Matthew’s next goal is college and he wants to be a History professor at a state university and to continue his own personal writing.

A favorite quote he tries to live by is from Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

“Life is going to have its ups and downs, its successes and failures,” says Matthew. “What matters is that we don’t give up and we keep moving forward.”

Sophia Treadwell was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia last May—one month before the end of her freshman year at Coral Reef Senior High School in Miami where she was part of the Visual and Performing Arts Magnet Academy. She plays violin in the orchestra strand.

Upon her diagnosis, Sophia immediately began intense chemotherapy treatments. Sophia shared that she has spent more than 100 days in the hospital and the clinic, has undergone 29 days of twice-a-day chemotherapy, has had four bone marrow biopsies and four lumbar punctures, one surgery to implant a port, dozens of blood and platelets transfusions, and hundreds of needle pokes.

Sophia has also played violin for other young patients at her local hospital. “These have been the hardest months of my life, but I fought even harder and I won. I am happy to say I am in remission and cancer-free!” says Sophia.

Although she is in remission, the chemotherapy treatments wiped out the 15-year-old violinist’s bone marrow and immune system and it will take several months for her immune system to recover and to be allowed to go to a brick-and-mortar school. “To keep up with my sophomore honors and AP classes, I am taking classes through FLVS Flex. It’s hard to juggle five classes plus all my doctor’s appointments, but I am doing my best to keep up.”

Sophia shared that she enjoys AP Psychology because “I love learning how people think and act. I have gotten a lot of help from psychologists and therapists during my cancer journey, and I hope I can also offer help to other kids who are dealing with cancer someday.”

Lauren Kingsly is an FLVS alumnus who graduated in Spring 2019. Lauren endured a mysterious chronic illness and searched for answers for two years. By enrolling with FLVS, she was able to continue her education and keep on track. Lauren, who is now 19, wrote a book “Tickled Imagination” about her journey of dealing with her declining health and ultimately a Lyme disease diagnosis. Lauren credits her FLVS AP U.S. History instructor Kelly Oaks with helping her edit the book.   

FLVS is so proud of these remarkable students! No matter what the circumstance, we are extremely honored that we are able to help students with their educational journey and path to success.

Have a suggestion, comment, or student to spotlight that you’d like to share? Comment below or email socialmedia@flvs.net.


The topic of children with special healthcare needs and their participation in online school is one that researchers have not explored in depth. Recent conversations surfaced the following questions:  How many hospital homebound students does FLVS serve and how are those students performing?  How does their achievement compare with students who are not hospital homebound? 

These questions spurred the research partnership between FLVS and University of Florida Pediatrics and Educational Technology’s Dr. Erik Black, which initiated a foundational study of this unique population of students from 2011-2018.

Keep an eye out for findings from this study in a future post! 


Suzan KurdakSuzan Kurdak is a published author, blogger, and communication specialist who joined FLVS in 2011. She is passionate about boosting and encouraging others to live life to their fullest potential.



13 comments on “Student Focus: Health & Homebound Edition

  1. Alexander

    Good to hear how FLVS is helping! This post really makes me glad that I have a completely normal body, without any diseases (other than this really weird one that I can not remember the name of that makes my cheeks inflate like a balloon, and starts closing off my esophagus, but it only happens once every couple of years). Anyhow, hope they have a wonderful life!

    Reply
  2. Lonette

    Thanks so much for sharing this. My son is enrolled in the FLVS flex program and unfortunately has many health complications that are chronic. We often feel very alone dealing with our schedule and stresses. It’s nice to see these amazing kids showcased for once.

    Reply
  3. JESSICA L STOVER

    These are incredible stories of success beyond all limitations. These children are truly remarkable. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  4. samantha

    im having my son geovanney do homeschooling with flvs due to health reasons. they found a lesion on the left side of his brain an is going through testing to see what it is. he wasnt doing well in school since this has all started. so i thought doing this would be better for him.

    Reply
  5. Miranda Snipes

    I was so happy to read this post today. My son is a new FLVS student. Our decision to enroll him was partly based on the number of doctors appts he was missing class for. He was diagnosed with T1 Diabetes shortly after his 11th birthday last year and trying to balance it and his first year of middle school was becoming impossible.

    Reply
  6. Rizwana shezan

    Incredible job .You are incredible community,May you serve humanity in the same way and may all children suffering from illness get well soon to enjoy life to its fullest.All my prayers are with you.lots of tears in my eyes.feelings cannot be shared .
    best of regards,

    Reply
  7. Ary Wolfe

    I am so happy to read these stories and feel like I’m not alone. I am a freshman at flvs because I have kidney disease, and I’ve felt alone and sad about not having a “normal” high school experience. It makes me feel so much better that there are others who understand and are going through the same thing. STAY STRONG!!!

    Reply
  8. Valerie

    wow people really care, because back when I went in my old school when someone got hurt really bad or was fighting a decease no one cared except for me, they where all like oh well survival of the fittest, but we can’t do it alone, we all have to work together.

    Reply
  9. Lisa

    Love to see how FLVS has helped and comes along side the families. So the educational box is checked off. I have advice for the health box to be checked off. For those who love reading there are several books by Anthony William aka Medical Medium that will be very helpful in restoring what has been lost. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Great job, it’s so inspiring to read all the stories.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Rizwana shezan Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *