Georgia Cyber Academy gains popularity - CBS46 News

Georgia Cyber Academy gains popularity

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For cancer survivor Rylee Buchanan, attending a traditional "brick-and-mortar" school wasn't an option. Thanks to technology and an innovative approach to learning, she's able to get a public school education from the comfort of her own home.

Rylee, 14, is one of 14,000 students enrolled in Georgia Cyber Academy, a free, online, public charter school that's gotten so popular, there's currently a waiting list.

Rylee remembers well her first-grade year at Holly Springs Elementary in Cherokee County. That was the year she learned she had a tumor on her optic nerve.

"I was a little worried because I just wasn't feeling so well, and I didn't know what was going to happen the next day," said Rylee.

"It was heartbreaking to see her so tired or in pain," said her mother Jessica.

Their life soon became a whirlwind. Rylee underwent 18 months of therapies including chemotherapy.

"I didn't want her to fall behind academically while she was going through treatment because that would just make things so much more difficult for her future," said Jessica.

Soon, the Buchanans learned about Georgia Cyber Academy, an option that would allow Rylee to complete her school work any time of day - at any place where there's an internet connection.

"I did some research on it and thought, 'Well, let's just try this. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, we can always go back.'" Jessica said.

Eight years into it, and cancer-free, Rylee is thriving. She takes her 9th grade classes online, communicating live with her teachers and classmates -- basically just as she would in a traditional school.

And on days she's focusing on her health, "I can just tell my teachers, 'Hey, I'm sorry. I'm going to miss out on this day because I have a doctor's appointment,'" Rylee said.

Since all classes are recorded, she can replay them and catch up on weekends. Rylee's little brother Blake also is thriving as a student at Georgia Cyber Academy.

Other students who have found Georgia Cyber Academy to be a good fit include professional actors or aspiring Olympic athletes whose work or practice schedules do not allow for a traditional education. It can also be a solution for students who are too distracted in a typical classroom setting.

Click here for more information about Georgia Cyber Academy.

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