Cumberland Virtual Academy

Meet Nalia Michelle Bethune

  • “Determined to Do it All”

  • What works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for all.

    That is why at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, Cumberland County Schools (CCS) launched Cumberland Academy, the district’s first virtual school. The fully functioning virtual school is designed to provide kindergarten through 12th-grade students and their families with an alternative learning option using online, interactive course content. The school launch couldn’t have come at a better time, with many students and their families hesitant to return to in-person learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    For Nalia Bethune, she knew it would be a good fit. Motivated and persistent, Nalia thrived in the virtual environment. Although she missed certain aspects of learning in person, she was able to learn at her own pace, which has helped her graduate from high school a year early. Not only did she finish high school in three years, but she is graduating in the top three of her class and she has earned 18 hours of college credit.

    In the fall, at only 17 years old, Nalia will begin her college career at North Carolina A&T State University. She plans to major in criminal justice with dreams of becoming an attorney.

    Prior to enrolling in Cumberland Academy, Nalia attended Cape Fear High School. She entered her freshman year with two high school credits she earned during middle school. She passed nine courses in ninth grade, passed nine more in 10th grade and skipped 11th grade altogether. At Cape Fear, she was a part of the Cumberland County Teen Court, Key Club and played volleyball. Now, she spends her time studying and working part-time at a local restaurant.

    Her advice for other high schoolers: don’t stress and don’t give up. “Work at your own pace and set up a schedule that works for you,” Nalia explained. “And don’t give up, even when you want to because someday, you will be what you desire.”

    For Nalia, persistence and determination has paid off.

    Thanks to the flexibility offered through Cumberland Academy, she has been able to set her own schedule while still taking the same curricular courses offered at a traditional school. Her teachers have supported her with individualized online instruction.

    “I believe that Nalia has been successful in the Cumberland Academy because she is resilient, flexible, and tenacious,” said Maryann Ayars, school counselor. “Across the nation, scores of students who could have done satisfactorily in virtual school have not done so. It is easy to quit when something is new, less interesting than a previous version, requires more personal responsibility, or is more difficult. Nalia is not a quitter. By opening herself to the positive aspects of virtual learning, Nalia has mastered a new skill.”

    Nalia is leaving high school a year early, thankful for teachers and school leaders who encouraged her to keep going. As Nalia moves on to the next phase of life, her can-do-it-all spirit combined with her quality educational experience will help her be successful in all she sets out to do.

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