He’s just 11 years old, but Ethan Johnson has been in and out of two public school districts in Chautauqua County.
He is now one of several kids who spends one day a week at the Chautauqua Thrive Cooperative inside Barker Library in Fredonia.
"I can see all my friends, but it's also because my benefit I feel is, I get more opportunities then regular school,” he said when asked what he likes about his current schooling situation.
When not at co-op, Ethan, like the others, is homeschooled.
"Homeschool is great, public school is great,” he said. “I miss it a little bit. I had a friend, a really good friend in public school, other than that I really like homeschool."
Ethan has spent the last several weeks of the semester taking part in physics experiments, story re-enactments, and art projects.
He also enjoys taking weekly field trips with the group.
Ethan's mom, Ann Johnson, said her son is easily distracted and has other sensory issues that are not conducive to his needs in a school environment.
"With the one-on-one instruction and being able to have that flexibility, he is really able to advance in more areas than when he's in the classroom,” she said. “There's so much time and energy being spent just trying to get him to sit down and be quiet."
Johnson first pulled Ethan from the classroom half-way through first grade, put him back in a different district after her daughter Maya was born, and then pulled him out again after two years.
"The writing was on the wall for us so, we just kind of said, well now we know,” she said. “Two years in the life of a child is kind of a lot, and there was bullying issues. And it was starting to affect his self-esteem in a lot of ways."
Johnson is co-director of the co-op, along with Erin Morse of Jamestown, who homeschools her nine-year-old son Christopher.
Close to 20 families from across Chautauqua County are registered with the co-op for the fall semester.
Morse and Johnson are now working to expand the number of co-op families for the spring semester.
Morse said while she enjoys homeschooling Christopher, her goal is to possibly get him matriculated into a traditional classroom setting by high school.
"We are always together,” she said. “I am 110 percent responsible for his education. It all falls on me."
Because students who learn at home can enter the public school district at any point in their educational career, the state does not keep track of homeschooled kids who graduate from high school, or go on to higher education.
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