For twelfth-grader Aiden Dyer, learning outside of a traditional classroom is nothing new. He had been homeschooled until he joined Laurel Springs three years ago. Like many students getting a nontraditional education, he is familiar with the independence that comes with online school. However, Aiden at first struggled balancing this freedom with a need for structure. Moving around the United States and eventually to Germany as a member of a military family, he has grown into a well-rounded and -traveled individual. Armed with Laurel Springs’ ability to offer consistency and peace of mind, Aiden embraces challenges and recognizes that no two days are the same—especially for someone with a military upbringing.
Active Duty, Active Growth
After spending six years in Texas and seven years in Connecticut as a part of the reserves with a civilian job, Aiden’s father became active duty in Alabama. It was only one year there before his father was offered a position in Germany and their family decided to journey overseas and see where life would take them. Aiden spent his last year of middle school at a public school on base and then applied to an international school in Munich. Although he was not accepted after not passing the admittance test, Aiden found Laurel Springs and was accepted into the Academy. “I must admit, at first, I was rather disappointed, as this meant I would not get to be with my peers for my high school experience. To make matters worse, less than a month after I had started school at Laurel Springs, my father received word that he would be deployed to Kuwait for the next ten months. Starting a program at a new school is challenging on its own, however, seeing a loved one go during such a crucial change plunged me into a deep depression.”
After being homeschooled for years, Aiden had to adjust to learning online and being the only one of his five siblings not being taught by his mother. “When I first started Laurel Springs, my habits were anything but structured. Giving a student such a large amount of freedom in both their school and everyday life proves very interesting, indeed.” While having the virtual support of his teachers, he still had to navigate his education very much on his own. “As a result of online school, I had to figure out how to create a schedule entirely on my own. Yes, my teachers were there to push me, but at the end of the day, all accountability was on myself.”
The struggle to adapt to his new educational environment sparked a fire in Aiden to cease this opportunity to hone responsibility and independence. “Having everything accountable to you can be quite challenging at first, and, yet when I talk to my peers, I admit almost no one has had the opportunity to take charge of their life like I have. Yes, online school can be difficult, and if you let your schedule get out of hand, it can affect you negatively. However, online school has taught me independence to a degree unrivaled by my peers in a normal school, and because of that, I feel even more confident for the journey ahead.”
A Military Ethic for Life
Aiden’s ability to thrive on adaptability and self-reliance did not just sprout from his new adventures in online education. His determination is deeply inspired by his father’s journey. Despite hardships in childhood, his father went on to be a first generation college graduate and build a successful career. “This gave my dad a sense of drive to always be able to provide for his family without worry over where our next meal would come from. The lessons taught to me by my dad have also pushed me to pursue my goals, no matter how big or small. Combine this with the focus needed to succeed in online education, and you have a recipe for ambition. Though my first few years with online school were nowhere near exceptional, I can stand now today, proud of how far I have come and of the things I have achieved,” explains Aiden.
With the flexibility of a Laurel Springs education, he has traveled the world and gotten to explore his passions in depth, like hiking some of the most remote parts of our planet. Having also reached the rank of Eagle Scout and worked at high adventure camps around Europe, Aiden is gearing up for more success in his future. He plans to go to college for psychology and apply to ROTC. “I have always been fascinated with how people’s minds work. After I have completed undergraduate, I am going to go to graduate school to become either a professor of behavioral psychology or start my own practice. I do not know where my life will take me, but I find having a rough plan can help relieve some of the stress associated with making plans for the future.”Like many students and families at Laurel Springs, Aiden is no stranger to change. Being willing to adapt and grow with every new step in his life, he found a home in learning and aspiring. We are experts at offering a flexible, consistent education to families like the Dyers and students like Aiden whose lives and needs are unique and require an education that is not one-size-fits-all. Laurel Springs recognizes and salutes our community’s individuals and their achievements and strives to provide the best customized opportunities for academic success and personal growth.