Sparks resident Logan Lansborough can finally go to school and learn on his own terms. At birth, the now 7-year-old was born with a congenital absence of the tibia which resulted in him getting a bilateral amputation. While he has been faced with mobility challenges his whole life, Logan loves to play and his lack of legs has not slowed him down.
However, when it was time to start kindergarten, teachers in the public school system insisted that he be placed in special education classes despite Logan being a mentally sharp and intelligent kid. Since he was only disabled physically, Logan became bored with the classwork and out of place in that environment.
“He was supposed to go to a school near us. We were hesitant about going to a public school…he can get around with his (prosthetic) legs but he doesn’t always want to wear them,” says Tina Olsen, Logan’s mother. “I didn’t want to put him in a ‘different’ class,” she adds.
Olsen says that her growing boy would also outgrow his legs, and it would take a while to get new ones.
“It’s not like we can go to Target and get new shoes. He has to get fitted, cast for his new legs. We go to Shriners (Hospital for Children) in Sacramento to get them,” she says. The process could take months- potentially months of Logan being out of school.
Watching TV one day, Olsen saw a commercial for the Nevada Virtual Academy, a virtual public education program for K-12 students. Headquartered in Las Vegas, NVA accepts students from all over the state and it is proving that even kids in Sparks, Nevada, can participate and engage in a classroom setting from the comfort of their own home.
“Getting into this school…it could not be more perfect for his needs,” Olsen says. “It gives us the flexibility for doctors’ appointments, and he can do it from home and no one would be gawking at him for not having legs. And the teachers are out-of-this-world outstanding,” she adds. NVA also armed Olsen with resources on how to be a valuable Learning Coach, making both Logan and her feel like they are succeeding.
With about 25 students in his virtual classroom, Logan will start his day at 9 a.m. with a bit of reading and math. Then they take a break, and he’ll come back in to join the other students in science, music, handwriting, and literacy. All students log in, they all participate, and they all get called on by the teacher at different times. Students will sometimes use webcams for show-and-tell, getting to know their fellow classmates.
“He’s a showoff, he likes to raise his hand a lot and participate. He wants to answer every question and I have to tell him that there’s all these other kids in the classroom,” Olsen says.
Although Logan hasn’t been able to attend any of NVA’s in-person meetups in Reno, he definitely still gets out and about.
“He has a ton of friends and likes to go rock climbing, go to Fly High Trampoline Park, go to the library, and he’ll probably get into swimming lessons soon,” says Olsen. When asked what his favorite subject is, Logan will say “Fly High”, but then admits that he likes reading, especially the story of Rapunzel.
Since starting the Academy last August, Logan has learned how to read, how to add and subtract, count to 1000, and knows all of his continents.
“I’m friends with a few of his classmates’ parents on Facebook; they all want to meet Logan, they all want to see his legs. One mom mentioned bullying and that’s why she wanted to send her kid to NVA, but that’s not the reason for us.
“When it takes three months to get new prosthetics, what’s he supposed to do during that time? Sometimes he doesn’t want to wear his legs, he gets around better without them. His legs weigh 15 pounds, can you imagine carrying all of that weight? He can run and climb better without his legs,” Olsen says.
For kids like Logan who cannot attend traditional school through no fault of their own, NVA offers the perfect solution.
“It’s really great, I cannot sing its praises enough,” Olsen says.