Online School

Southeast Minnesota teen benefits from online setting

NEW RICHLAND, Minn. (KTTC) — Distance learning has been a nightmare for a lot of students this year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, for one New Richland teen, online school is a dream come true.

“He has what we call developmental delay or an intellectual disability,” said Christina Petsinger about her son, Eric Arvis. “Through other studies with the Mayo Clinic, we found out that his frontal lobe did not develop correctly. That’s what gives him most of his issues.”

A friend of the family gave them a little advice.

“She said, ‘Hey Chris, check this out,”‘ Petsinger remembers. “I said, ‘Online? Are you nuts?'”

They even gave the brick and mortar school another shot.

“He had some teachers that weren’t believing in him and he went south. We pulled him and put him back in MNVA and he’s been nothing but a rock star.”

MNVA stands for Minnesota Virtual Academy. The online school has turned Eric from a failing student into a straight-A student. What’s the secret?

“For him, it’s a little more one-on-one,” said Eric’s dad Patrick Petsinger.

“The teachers make it fun,” said Eric.

He even has a favorite subject.

“Mostly history,” said Eric, who also enjoys learning about the solar system.

He doesn’t spend all of his time online. Eric enjoys his fair share of extracurricular activities, including running track for NRHEG High School.

“We definitely keep him active,” said his mom. “He’s still in Boy Scouts.”

Eric also splits his time between 4-H and taekwondo. With Eric’s busy schedule, Minnesota Virtual Academy allows him to learn at his own pace and have more control over his education, including getting help in harder subjects like chemistry.

“He has to turn his work in by the end of the day, but his end of the day could be at night after I get home from work,” said Patrick.

While this online learning model is not for everyone, Christina does recommends it to others.

“Definitely,” she said. “They have to have the will and drive to have something a little bit harder.”

Eric’s parents were told that he would never do grade-level work, but he has caught up and is doing just that.