By Nelson Belen and Ciara Long, Contributing Reporters
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Though sixteen year-old American expatriate Christian Billman has lived in Recife, Brazil, for six years, in that time he has been able to fulfill all the educational requirements of a typical teenager in the U.S. and will soon graduate with a U.S. diploma, all from the comfort of his home in Brazil through International Connections Academy.
For the past several years, Christian has been enrolled in International Connections Academy, an accredited, online private school serving students in grades K-12 worldwide. The virtual school allows English-speaking students living abroad with expat parents to receive a high-quality education that meets U.S. standards, with only a computer and an internet connection.
“We liked the combination of flexibility and the quality of education at International Connections Academy,” Christian’s mother, Rachael Billman, told The Rio Times. The Billmans moved to Recife in 2010 to run the Shores of Grace Ministries, a missionary ministry which aims to help prostitutes and victims of sexual assault.
Though living far from home, Rachael and her husband Nic wanted Christian and his siblings to continue with their American education while in Brazil. And with a need for flexibility in order to run the ministry, the online International Connections Academy was the ideal option over a traditional brick-and-mortar private school.
“For some families, virtual school is great. Our oldest son went from failing in a private school to being on Honor Roll with Connections Academy,” said Mrs Billman. “Some kids learn better in this format, and they receive high-quality education through Connections Academy.”
Since he and his siblings enrolled in International Connections Academy, Christian has been able to fulfill his required courses, as well as unique electives such as game design and digital photography, while being afforded the luxury of living abroad.
Christian says he works on a similar schedule to a regular high school student in the U.S., between 7AM and 4PM. For Christian, the greater flexibility of a virtual school has had a positive impact on his grades.
“I can be very independent in my schooling, and I enjoy that the most. I can work slow or fast, depending on the day. If I’m stressed, I can take a break and get back to work later,” Christian told The Rio Times. “In brick and mortar high school, I struggled because I was on the clock 24/7, but I’m more independent in an online school.”
The Billmans’ story is common among families who use Connections Academy to secure high quality education for their children while they live abroad. The school reports exceptional levels of parent satisfaction, at around 95 percent.
Of those who applied to college from the school’s 2016 graduates, 100 percent were accepted, and students received a total of $2.3 million in scholarships.
Christian also hopes to continue with his studies after he completes his education at Connections Academy. “I plan to further my education in Theology after I have completed my time at Connections Academy,” he said excitedly.
* This is a Sponsored article for International Connections Academy.