November 30, 2022

Meet the PSO Board of Directors

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What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?
What’s a Rich Text element?

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The PSO Board of Directors play an integral role in the success of PSO and our mission to advocate for parent choice across the country. Learn more about these incredible women and their steadfast commitment to ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education that works for them.

Letrisha Weber, President

How long have you been advocating and what inspired you to get involved in the school choice movement?

I believe about 8 years.  I’m not really one to count.  State virtual school budget discrepancies threatened to change logistics at our hybrid the next year which wouldn’t align with my work schedule. I asked the head of schools how to prevent the changes and he told me to be at the statehouse the next week.  I’ve been advocating ever since. 

Having lackluster K-12 experiences ourselves, we wanted better for our children.  We wanted our children to have an educational environment that is encouraging, nurturing, and that taught them how to be learners—not just cover the material.  Independently homeschooling was an overwhelming idea as I am a working mother. That’s when I heard a radio advertisement for our beloved hybrid school.

Do you feel this alternative schooling option allowed you and your family to pursue a career or interest that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise?  The adaptability and support from the school has made the opportunity for our oldest to progress quickly toward an interpreter career. The local schools would have limited this potential by not providing additional language levels once completing the high school’s provided courses. Maxing out their options early would have slowed progress. 

What is your most memorable moment in advocacy?  My favorite moment was watching the skeptical legislators observe my oldest during a Statehouse demo day. It didn’t hurt at all that she was correctly demonstrating Pythagorean Theorem and Dominant/recessive gene predictions in seventh grade that day.  It was great to reverse some myths that day. 

Are there any misconceptions you’ve witnessed about alternative schooling options? What would you like to set the record straight on?  The list of myths is ridiculously long but the most significant one for our family is the “lack of social skills”.  Our youngest is so social that it could become a potential distraction.  Hybrid and virtual school allows us to manage socialization rather than letting it hinder academics. 

What does “School Freedom” mean to you?  School freedom to me means that our children are only limited by their own imaginations. 

What advice would you give to other parents who may be frustrated with their child’s current educational options?  There are SO MANY options out there. There is an option out there that will work for your child, you just have to find it. Don’t be afraid to make the change to find a better fit. If you need help there are others out there that exercised their right to school choice so you won’t be alone. 

Letrisha's daughter shared some kind words about how her mother has inspired her in her academic journey and beyond:

"I can't put into words how much my mother has done for me.  She has always encouraged me to be a high achiever and go that extra mile.  My mom has supported me in all of my endeavors, academic and otherwise. She never just handed me everything I needed to accomplish my goals, but she showed me where to start so I can achieve them on my own. She taught me that whenever I'm stuck or frustrated with something, to take a step back to gather my thoughts, then try again.  Most importantly, my mother has taught me that there is always something more to learn.  I could spend hours talking about all that I have learned from her and it still wouldn't make a dent in the list."

Cynthia Williams, Vice President

Cynthia hails from Cleveland, Ohio. Her oldest daughter was one of the first 250 students to enroll in Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA), a new online school option back in 2003. She is a 2011 OHVA graduate. Cynthia’s youngest just graduated from OHVA in 2020.

Cynthia was an online learning coach for 19 years. She was one of the founding members of the Board of Directors of the Ohio eSchool Families & Friends Coalition and has been working in Ohio organizing events, testifying, attending rallies, partnering with other charter organizations and mentoring future parents. She has also worked with the coalition to create their Student Ambassador Program, of which she is the current director.

Cynthia has worked as a paraprofessional with special education students online for the past 10 years helping them transition to the online school model and prepare for life after graduation.

While she has chosen and worked with the online school setting, she firmly believes and has advocated for the rights of parents to choose any schooling environment that works for them — whether it be online, charter, STEM or district schools.

Cynthia was the recipient of PSO's 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award in June of this year. Watch the presentation here:

Wei Barr, Treasurer

Wei Barr hails from Alabama where her children joined Alabama Virtual Academy at the Eufaula City Schools as founding members in 2016. Born and raised in China, Wei immigrated to the US in 2007 and witnessed firsthand the power and impact school choice has on children and their families. She believes the freedom to choose is the foundation to a democratic society and works tirelessly to promote choice and equality within Alabama education communities. Wei has been an active member of the parent advisory committee for ALVA where she serves the virtual school families by advocating for school choice before state legislators. Wei and her husband Joseph are both instructional designers by trade who serve in the K-16 remote learning industry. She can be found in the woodworking shop when she is away from the screen.

Dr. Nicole Conragan

I started advocating for school choice after I stumbled across an invitation from California Parents for Public Virtual Education (CPPVE) to train how to be a better advocate. I really had no idea what that meant, but I responded, and I was chosen to attend the parent Boot Camp in Washington DC. I was blown away! Not only was it a blast, but I learned so much and met extraordinary people. I knew I wanted to continue being involved. I wound up on the board for the California coalition, eventually becoming president and continued to learn as I stumbled along.

My most memorable moment in advocacy was when a group of parents in California, along with Mike MeCey (the coalition manager), got to meet with legislators in Washington DC. He was so chill and easy-going, and it inspired me to be myself and to speak the truth. He reminded me that we are all people just trying to make our way, and legislators are no different. They need to hear from us in a straightforward and kind way to help them make better decisions. 

I think that parents need to know that there are options for their children that may not fit their original narrative, but they may fit the child perfectly. Some parents are fearful for a variety of reasons about changing schools, but fear can be overcome with knowledge. Having the courage to reach out and talk to parents or educators can be a first step toward freedom and peace of mind in the education process. My involvement in the school choice movement taught me that advocacy is essential, but that it’s also fun and easy. It’s so much easier than you think!

Nicole's son Jordan shared some kind words about his mother below:

Karen McGee, Director

Do you feel this alternative schooling option allowed you and your family to pursue a career or interest that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise?

Kraig and Kathryn were in a traveling musical “Dragon Tales “. They were educated by K-12 even while performing in Korea! Honestly, the high-level and individual attention put Kraig and Kathryn above grade level.

How long have you been advocating and what inspired you to get involved in the school choice movement?

I have advocated for years for parental choice and wrote the legislation allowing charter and online schools in Idaho. After serving on the state board of education for Idaho I have continued to serve on the coalition of Idaho charter school families. My most memorable memory was a vote on the charter school legislation! It passed a win for parents and their students.

Are there any misconceptions you’ve witnessed about alternative schooling options? There are many misconceptions concerning online and charter school education. Including funding, student population, and curriculum.

What does “School Freedom” mean to you? School freedom means a parent and students recognize that not everybody learns in the same environment. There should be choices for parents and their students!

What advice would you give to other parents who may be frustrated with their child’s current educational options?  Parents get involved! You are the ones that makes a difference.

Karen lives in Pocatello, Idaho.  While serving on the Board of Education for the State of Idaho, she was in instrumental in drafting Idaho’s Charter School laws.  Karen is passionate that all parents and students should be provided choice in their education.  She has helped many communities to start and maintain charters.  Involvement in school choice will always be a high priority for her.  Karen and her husband Kraig have 3 children and 7 grandchildren. She loves skiing, golf and tennis!

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