Our Goal

Through active leadership in the trailblazing efforts of home, charter, private and international schools GSN takes students to their ultimate destination – a successful collegiate or vocational career in America. Global Student Network is the pre-eminent service provider to the […]



Global Student Network’s mission is to provide alternative educational options, designed to improve the academic preparation, achievement and general well being of non-traditionally oriented elementary, middle and high school age students and most recently offering solutions to adult learners.

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Once in a Lifetime

Northern Lights

Aurora borealis.  The Northern Lights!  Have you ever seen them?  I have a vague recollection of seeing them when I was a child living in the Adirondacks.  I remember the beautifully odd lighting in the sky and how impressed the adults were.  I knew from their response I was seeing something special.

Bears.  I have a very clear recollection of seeing them!  One night my parents put us in our pajamas, loaded us up in the back of the Pinto station wagon, and drove to the dump.  There we joined the many other cars encircling the trash heap and waiting with headlights on.  Before long, black bears came to rummage through the garbage.  I remember being totally mesmerized watching these lumbering-yet-graceful creatures work their way through the landfill.  (As an adult, I see several things about this scenario that makes me just shake my head . . . )

Ah, those childhood experiences are priceless.  They are priceless to the child AND priceless to the adult who shares the experience.  (Even as I’m typing this, my neighbor is on her way to take her 3 year old son to play at the park.  It makes me well up because it seems only yesterday I was heading to the park with my babies. “Ooooh!  Have a great time!  Such a great, wonderful time!” I say through teary eyes.  She must think I’m a nut!!)

No doubt this is one of the reasons many families choose to homeschool their children.  The moments – mere moments! – when our children are young are so precious and fleeting.  To think of being able to share each and every day with those little lives.

To see through their eyes the wonder of the world they are discovering.

To be there for the “Aha!” moments.

To share the best and favorite stories.

To instill a love for learning.

Yes, homeschool is about better academics and a safer environment and building character and instilling faith and fill-in-the-blank.  But above all, homeschool is about walking hand-in-hand through life and learning with those you treasure most.  It’s about making the most of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Maps and Good Online Curriculum

Pile of Maps

Confession:  My husband and I love maps.

“You are the only people I know who actually sit and read maps!” My sister has stated this on several occasions.  Like we have a bizarre condition.  In this age of travel by GPS, perhaps our affinity for maps is a bit odd.  But what can I say?  We love maps!

I guess we love maps for the plain and simple reason that we like looking at where we’ve been, imagining where we’ll go next and planning what we’ll see along the way.  It’s a wonderful combination of having the big picture and the details, too.

A map is a good metaphor for online learning.  When the curriculum is a good fit, you can clearly see where you’ve been, where you’re heading and what you might expect to see along the way.

Where You’ve Been

Everyone should have a clear sense of the learning progress being made.  Parents and teachers need this information to better assist the student.  They can see where the student needs to be encouraged to spend more time and effort and where success comes readily.  When students are aware of their progress, they can take ownership of their learning.  Seeing for themselves what they have accomplished spurs them on.  A good online curriculum is one that the student can easily navigate and see at a glance the progress they have made.

Where You’re Headed

The best of online curricula begins with a pretest or some sort of initial assessment and prescribes a plan accordingly.  After all, why spend time and effort covering concepts and skills the student already knows?  Having a clear picture of where they’re headed helps all types of students.  It prevents the excelling student from becoming bored (they will not have to revisit material they’ve already mastered) and the student requiring more support from becoming frustrated (they will not be expected to begin at a level beyond their prior knowledge).  For all learners, having a sense of direction and learning efficiency helps to keep students motivated and moving forward.

What You Might See Along the Way

The beauty of online curriculum is that the possibilities are endless!  Instruction can include audio and video formats as well as interactive platforms.  Material can be easily updated to include the most recent research or findings.  The sheer number of high school electives available online means that anyone can learn anything!

All the best on your educational journey!  Oh, and don’t forget your map!

To see online curriculum in action, go to www.globalstudentnetwork.com.  GSN offers many types of online programs from one site.  You can view demos and see the qualities mentioned above.  Go ahead and explore!

Gearing Up for Homeschool


No, this isn’t an attempt to re-create the Clampetts. This is our van loaded for a one week camping trip. It was Yellowstone or bust! And the van did nearly bust at the seams with all the accommodations needed for eight people. With two car top carriers and every inch of interior space crammed, we went; we saw; we made a lot of great memories.

Gearing up for any adventure takes a great deal of thoughtful planning and careful preparation! We have been gearing up for another adventure lately as the beginning of the school year is upon us. There are things to acquire, decisions to be made, options to be weighed.

Are you gearing up for a homeschool adventure? Here are a few things to consider:

Choose your equipment wisely. Our trek to Wyoming required tents, sleeping bags, coolers, food, hiking shoes and packs, and a good dose of stamina! To accomplish your homeschool goal, you will need to choose your tools – the most important being the homeschool curriculum you will use. There are so many choices out there. Some families follow a traditional approach with workbooks and possibly DVDs. Other families enroll their students in an online school staffed by certified teachers. Many families make the most of the many online curriculum choices available. Online curriculum is popular because it provides so much material in a cost-effective format. Internet-based learning means that families can choose the schedule and students can work at their own pace. Most online tracks progress so parents can see exactly what students have learned and what they need to learn.

One source for choosing online curriculum is Global Student Network. This warehouse of online curriculum offers six different accredited learning systems for grades K -12 from one location. Choices include Christian, secular, Honors, Common Core, non Common core, career/technical, Rosetta Stone, and numerous high school electives. GSN’s website (www.globalstudentnetwork.com) gives you a side-by-side comparison as well as demos of the various curricula. GSN also provides “real people” who can assist with questions.

Don’t forget anyone! So far our family has a perfect record. We haven’t forgotten anyone yet – Yellowstone or elsewhere! With a family of five kids, that is saying something! Counting noses comes as natural as breathing when we are out and about with the clan.

When preparing for a homeschool adventure, don’t forget anyone! For example, if you have a highly visual learner, don’t forget to choose learning tools that will make the most of that strength. If you have a learner that needs complete quiet in order to concentrate, don’t forget to create an environment that will enable them to succeed. Have an active one? Don’t forget to plan for times to move around. Considering each student’s needs means no one gets left behind on your learning adventure.

Know where you’re headed. A clear destination and a clear way of getting there is invaluable, whether you’re headed through the Grand Tetons or through grade 5 homeschool! Do you want to include music lessons? Is playing a sports team important? Does your student want to work on an advanced math level? After you think through exactly what your goals are, write them out. Then plan exactly how you will reach those goals.

Be prepared for anything. No matter how carefully you plan and prepare, something will come up that you were not expecting. For us, the trip took much longer than we had planned. That meant we were setting up our tents with darkness threatening and hungry kids asking for dinner. In the rain. Not ideal, not what we expected, but part of the adventure nonetheless! For us, the key to surviving these moments is recognizing them as just that – moments! They do not define the whole experience.

In your homeschool journey, there will be days that do not go according to plan. There will be moments of utter frustration. Likely you will at some point wonder if you even made the right choice to homeschool! Prepare for these moments by finding support like a fellow homeschool parent who can empathize with you and offer encouragement. And be ready to help that parent keep sight of the big picture when they need perspective too.

Being prepared for anything also means that sometimes the greatest learning comes in the unplanned moments. The beauty of homeschool is you can teach in the moment. If a spider suddenly shows up right in the middle of multiplication facts, you have the freedom to take a break from the four times tables and do some arachnid research. It seems at times being flexible with your planning is as important as the planning itself.

So happy packing! And all the best on your upcoming journey! May you arrive at the end the school year busting at the seams with great learning and meaningful memories.


Surf’s Up! Student Spotlight – Evan Brownell


Student Spotlight – Evan Brownell

Evan Brownell is a 15 year old International Virtual Learning Academy student from St. Augustine, Florida.  Like many IVLA students, Evan’s family chose online learning because the flexibility enables him to pursue something very special.  In Evan’s case – surfing!

I had the privilege of asking Evan a few questions recently.  Here is what he had to say.

When did you start surfing?

I started surfing as soon as I could swim, about age 3.  My dad pushed me in and I was hooked.

Are you on a team?

I am not on a surf team, but I do have sponsors.  My sponsors are Cobian Footware, Lost clothing, Sun Bum sunscreen and my local surf shop, The Surf Station.  

(I have to ask) Have you ever seen a shark?

I have seen plenty of sharks.  They live where I play, but I try to stay out of their way.  New Smyrna Inlet, FL, is the shark bite capital of the world, but fortunately I have never been bitten.  New Smyrna has consistent waves and is only an hour drive from my house.

DSC_0222What do you love best about surfing?

What I love best about surfing is the thrill of riding the biggest, longest waves.  I like being in the ocean.  I like that surfing takes me to new places and I get to meet new people who love to do what I do.

What are the favorite places you’ve surfed?

My most favorite surfing spot is Guiones, Costa Rica.  I also love Lowers Trestles in California, minus the crowds.

What is the hardest thing about what you do?

The hardest thing about surfing is being consistent in my contests when you do not ever have a consistent playing field.  The waves are constantly changing and you only have 15 or 20 minutes to show what you can do, but you don’t always get the opportunity if it goes flat or you’re sitting in the wrong position and can’t catch a wave.  Also trying to learn the latest airs when you live in flat Florida is almost impossible.

How does attending school at IVLA fit into the picture? (www.internationalvla.com)

IVLA gives me the flexibility to be able to do school and travel.  I am able to surf during the early morning hours, come home and do school, surf again in the afternoon and finish my schooling at night.

What accomplishments have you achieved?

I compete in NSSA, ESA, Surfing America Prime, Costa Rican tour events as well as other contests, like Rip Curl Grom Search and Volcom VQS when I can.  I have won lots of contests, but never a national title and that’s what I’m aiming for.  I would also like to be on the Surfing America USA team one day and represent my county in the ISA games.

What are your future goals?

I surf because I love it and being in the ocean, not to win contests.  I am hoping one day to travel the world, surf every place I’ve seen and read about in books and magazines and get a job in the surf industry.

You can see Evan in action in this video:

It is always wonderful to find high school students doing what they love and shaping their learning around their passions.  All the best to you, Evan!

Riding the Wave – High School on a Surfboard


There is a new trend in high school today – fewer students.  According to the latest census sited by the National Home Education Research Institute, homeschool is growing with more than 2.2 million students in 2010.  This wave continues to swell as more and more students are leave traditional education and finding other ways to earn their high school diplomas and prepare for college.

One such alternative is online learning.  Online homeschool curriculum and online schools make it possible for high school students to get a quality education while tailoring their learning around their life.

One such student is 15 year old Evan Brownell.  Surfing since age 3, Evan now participates in many competitions and has even acquired sponsorship.  His routine is to surf morning and afternoon.

” What I love best about surfing is the thrill of riding the biggest, longest waves,” says this Florida surfer, “I like being in the ocean.  I like that surfing takes me to new places and I get to meet new people who love to do what I do.”

So how can a teenager surf twice a day and travel the world?  Evan goes to school at International Virtual Learning Academy.  IVLA is an accredited private online school.  Teachers support students like Evan as they work through classes at their own pace and according to their own schedule.  The flexibility online learning provides fits perfectly with Evan’s professional pursuits.

Pursuing careers is not the only reason that brings families to online learning.  Research also shows parents are looking into learning from home because they can:

  • Create a safe learning environment specific to the needs of their children
  • Instill family beliefs and values
  • Provide more academically appropriate opportunities
  • Present material as they see best
  • Focus on family relationships
  • Better guide social interactions

The results?  Evan says, “I have won lots of contests.”  And homeschool has shown to be a winner as well.  Both academic and social indicators show learning from home to be a winning choice.  Colleges and universities are now specifically seeking homeschool students.

Stanford University admissions officer, Jon Reider says, “Homeschoolers bring certain skills – motivation, curiosity, the capacity to be responsible for their education – that high schools don’t induce very well.”

No doubt the future looks promising for both surfer Evan Brownell and homeschooling as one makes most of the waves he finds and the other is making waves in its own right.



Ray, Brian. “Research Facts on Homeschooling.” January 2014. http://nheri.org/research/research-facts-on-homeschooling.html

“Homeschoolers at Harvard?” http://www.families.com/blog/homeschoolers-at-harvard-colleges-seek-homeschoolers