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Pandemic hurdles inspire sisters to build online homeschool community

The sisters had the bright idea to start their own online home school in their darkest moment during the pandemic.
Pandemic hurdles inspire sisters to build online homeschool community
Posted at 8:30 PM, Mar 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-10 00:13:51-05

After struggling with remote learning during the pandemic, two sisters in Virginia decided they couldn't sit and wait for the education system to change to meet their needs. Instead, Sumay and Aila Lu decided to start their own online home school. Today, it's called the WEquil School, and it functions online — and, on an app — serving hundreds of students across the country. 

The sisters had the bright idea in their darkest moment during the pandemic. 

"A lot of kids felt confused, including me, and so we started creating projects about things that we were interested in, and we found that we were learning at least ten times faster and we were retaining our knowledge," said the WEquil School's 11-year-old CEO, Aila Lu. 

"And so, we started offering that to other kids," she said. 

Aila's 14-year-old sister Sumay started coding to build the WEquil platform, and eventually, with help from a team of web developers, the girls launched the WEquil School and its associated platforms. 

"WEquil App is the home school app providing solutions for all the common needs that home-schoolers face," said Sumay Lu, the CEO of the WEquil app platform. "Solutions that allow all of these homeschooling families to not only find communities, but also start them and create learning pods, clubs, classes, micro schools, co-ops."

The school is an online meeting place to compare curriculum, ask questions to other home school families — and to make learning at home a social experience for students, including 10-year-old Chloe Frohrib, who attends WEquil from her home in Nevada. 

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"Back in public school, it's actually more lonely and isolating ... at least for the kind, of the 'teacher's pet,' and I was definitely one of those," Frohrib explained. "Instead of playing with the other kids, I just kind of hung around trying to hide in the shadows. I only had one friend at a time, and sometimes I didn't even have any friends, but now with WEquil school, I've had, I have a lot of friends and it's really engaging," she said.  

Sumay Lu said, "We're showing kids that there are a lot of possibilities, to actually take control of their own education and really see how they can have a lot of influence on the world."

Frohrib said, "You get to learn at your own speed, and I also get to learn through my interests."

For parents like Rebecca Ferree, this project-based home school learning model gives her peace of mind. 

"They can interact, in a sense, the way social media functions with chatting and sharing posts, but without all of the distractions and the unhealthy ads and influences," said Ferree.  

Ferree was a public-school teacher herself, and said she sees a difference in her child after moving her to the WEquil school. 

"All of the kids that I've seen in my daughter's learning pod who have been home schooling longer than us, they have this confidence and this passion that I just didn't see in a lot of my students,' she said. 

Sumay and Aila say they've launched their own businesses through this project-based learning model. Learning entrepreneurship long before they might in a traditional public-school setting. Aila now runs a dog walking business in her neighborhood. 

"I think a lot of kids in traditional education may struggle with seeing the context — the reason for their learning — and so by really helping kids take what they're learning and actually applying it, whether that might be through creating something or teaching it to other people — you know, sharing it with their community — they can see this is the reason why I'm learning, and I've definitely seen that personally ... that has just triggered immense curiosity from me," Sumay Lu said. 

The sisters hope this model will grow in the years to come because it has helped them see that schools don't require a building to teach students lifelong skills. The young women encourage any student, parent or teacher looking for a change in their education to take a chance and come to class in a new way on the WEquil School and app

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