Student Profile: Arie DeWinkle “When my classes moved online, I thrived in the new environment”

Buddy Moorehouse
May 3, 2023 2:04:48 PM

For student coping with the challenges of being in a wheelchair, online charter school is the perfect fit

There are just over 20,000 students in Michigan who are enrolled in a fully online charter public school. Their reasons for choosing their school might vary, but there’s one common thread – these students and their families all feel this is the best educational option for them.

For now, Michigan values these students equally when it comes to funding, but depending on budget discussions in Lansing, that might change. They might be valued less. With so much focus on students who have chosen to attend a fully online charter school, we decided to let one of these students tell her story.

Arie DeWinkle is a ninth-grader who lives in Howell with his parents and five younger brothers.


I have a disability known as cerebral palsy which tightens my muscles and keeps me in a wheelchair,” Arie said. “I’ve been in the online setting nearly two-and-a-half years since COVID hit and have greatly enjoyed it.”

What was your experience like at your former school and why did you decide to come to Uplift Michigan Academy?

My experience in the Howell Public Schools District was great and helped to motivate me, but the brick-and-mortar setting was challenging, especially with my disability. However, when my classes moved online, my family and I quickly found that I thrived in the new environment. The ability to be more flexible with my schedule and the easy access to technology-based platforms for learning made my assignments easier to complete on my own. This has been enormously satisfying.

Why is online learning the right educational choice for you?

I transferred to Uplift Michigan Academy when I graduated from middle school because we felt that learning online was a better fit for me, and the district was slowly moving back to in-person. I have been significantly impressed by the staff here.

The support they show to their students is phenomenal, and I look forward to continuing the rest of my high school career here. If I had to choose right now, my favorite class would be U.S. History.

A lot of people have some misconceptions about fully online schools and students. What are some of those misconceptions that you’ve heard, and how do you explain to people what it’s really like?

One common misconception I've heard about online learning is that it's difficult for teachers and students to communicate with one another. While I admit this belief is a valid concern, it hasn’t been the case for me at Uplift.

Students and teachers here at Uplift reach out with questions and concerns regularly. They do this via email, live lessons, study halls, and one on ones. With this frequent communication, students remain well-informed and positioned to do well in their classes.

What are your plans after graduation and what kind of career are you looking for?

After graduation, I plan to attend college, possibly the University of Michigan, and take financial and business classes. For a career path, I'm considering being a video game designer, website designer, writer, or another career that allows me to use my creativity. While I still have yet to hammer out the finer points of my plans, I feel optimistic about the future.


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