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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!