In figure skating, there are no wasted movements. Every jump and spin are timed and precise. And the training required to succeed must be just as efficient.
That same quality makes independent study the educational choice for 17-year-old figure skater Ross Miner.
A silver medalist in the novice men’s class at the 2008 U.S. National Championships, Ross also won gold in the intermediate men’s competition at the 2006 U.S. National Championships,. To get to this level and still maintain his academic responsibilities — squeezed in around approximately 25 hours of training each week — he requires an education that is as flexible, streamlined and efficient as he is on the ice.
Enrolled in a parochial school until seventh grade, Ross began training seriously at age 12, when his family moved near Boston and he began homeschooling. He enrolled in MU High School to complement his home high school and has taken courses from three other online schools.
“I think the MU courses focus more on what you learn rather than busy work, which is one thing I like,” says Ross’ mom, Gloria. “The teachers have been good, and the chat rooms for the AP courses are very good. I think it’s been well-organized and a little easier to keep track of than in the regular school system.”
Ross says he likes MU’s courses because they’re challenging without being excessive. “Training is a time-intensive process,” he says. “I like the ability to reduce the stress surrounding my schoolwork; the skating is stressful enough. It’s nice to have the ability to achieve what you need to achieve for schooling and still have the energy and determination to train.”
Through HU High School, Ross has completed American Literature, African-American History, AP European Historyand four courses in German — at the request of his German grandfather. Although he enjoys German, it’s the European history course he liked best. “I absolutely loved the AP European,” he says. “Mr. Henderson was a fantastic teacher. He was really knowledgeable, and his corrections were very insightful.”
Overall, Ross says, “MU is manageable and still challenging and keeps me interested. I really like that.”
Gloria Miner has been happy with the experience as well. In addition to addressing the need for time management, her goal of providing a quality education for her son has been met. “I think it’s a reasonable program and a good value,” she says. Studying independently “probably teaches him to be more intellectually curious,” she adds. “He’s allowed to go off on different phases he’s more interested in than he would in a regular school. He’s been able to pursue his own interests.”
Luckily for Ross, both skating and learning come relatively easy, each providing an appropriate reward for effort. The silver medal he won this year was especially meaningful, he says, because “I didn’t skate the way I wanted to, but I trained really hard and felt like I had done everything I could do to prepare. It’s rewarding and fun to have something you can train for and see the effort pay off.”