Class of 2017: Balancing act

​Photo by Christy Ann Linder

​Emily Schild, an elite gymnast and high school senior, has had to maintain a balance between her sport and her academics. She trains 40 hours per week and she needed an educational option that would accommodate her schedule. The right fit turned out to be Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools eLearning Academy, a full-time, virtual high school offering students personalized and flexible learning.

There were some adjustments, however.

"It hasn't been easy taking all my courses online," said Emily. "You have to be self-motivated and be prepared for a non-traditional experience."

Emily is an all-around gymnast and competes in floor, vault, bars and beam. Most days, she trains from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. She studies at night and on Sundays. Travel for training camps and competitions are also added to her schedule, but she still finds time to go to the movies and spend time with friends on her one day off each week.

Emily said communication with her teachers has been particularly helpful, especially right before she travels. Students can arrange face-to-face meetings with their teachers, or communicate via e-mail, phone, text, Google Hangout, Skype or other options.

"To be able to take online courses you have to be able to stay on task — you can't procrastinate," she said. "Gymnastics has taught me mental toughness. I bring that into my education. I've also had a lot of support."

olympic trials_insidepic.jpgEmily was two when her mother, Maria Schild, enrolled her in a Mommy and Me class that introduced her to gymnastics. Since then, she has had numerous successes and won hundreds of medals. She has faced challenges, too. In 2014, she missed the season because of a stress fracture in her left fibula. She was sidelined for the Pan American Games in Toronto.

"It made me work harder," she said.

Emily's resilience paid off. She represented the U.S. at the 2015 and 2016 Jesolo Trophy competitions and the 2015 Pan American Games, where she won a team gold medal. Emily was one of only 14 competitors for a spot on Team USA in the 2016 Olympic Games. Although she was not selected, she said she felt honored, nonetheless.

"It was great to make it to the trials and compete in front of thousands of people," she said.

Following high school graduation, Emily will attend the University of Georgia, where she with participate in the gymnastics program.

"I'm looking forward to college life. I'll continue to balance my gymnastics and academics," she said.

For now, her goal is to make an international assignment and be considered for Worlds in October.

Principal Tracey Pickard said Emily demonstrates diligence and hard work in everything she does.

"Emily's journey constantly reminds me how school innovation can help students fulfill their dreams and passions," said Pickard.​