By Jackie Jones

When Nikki Bravo’s niece, Isha, moved in with her last year, it was clear that a full academic schedule, coupled with an equally intense training program at The Washington Ballet School, would soon be overwhelming.

With anywhere from two to four hours of training after school and on weekends, Isha often got to Bravo’s Bethesda, Maryland home as late as 9:30 p.m. and still needed to eat and do homework – sending her to bed well after midnight to rest before getting up early the next morning to start the cycle all over again.

“She wants to be a professional ballet dancer, and the time needed was close to impossible,” Bravo told “So last year, we enrolled her in an online school.”

The certified Keystone program, Bravo said, provided instruction in English, Math, Spanish and Biology. Her niece was given physical education credit for her dance curriculum.

“What worked really well for her was working more independently, where she had more time,” Bravo said, noting that the program gives students more time to complete the curriculum.

But, Bravo cautioned, adult supervision is still needed to keep students on track.

“With a teenager, if there is no bus or car leaving (to carry them to school), it can be difficult,” Bravo said. “The lack of structure is challenging. Keystone gives you 12 months to complete it, but you could see if you’re a procrastinator, it can be a disaster.”

The program allows students to set their own pace, but it helps to have some sort of structure imposed.

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