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Connor's Story

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Student finds path to success with Long Valley, while still nurturing his music

When Connor Rogers was a ninth-grader in Los Angeles, he seriously doubted he’d ever graduate high school. His grades were low, and his heart was in his music, not academics. He dreamed he’d be a guitarist in a band; college didn’t enter his plans.

“Then reality was setting in,” recalls Connor, now 18. “I was realizing I wasn’t meeting any other serious musicians who want to do this.” Connor says he began to think, “I’m not gonna make it, so I need to go to school where people are going to be motivated to do this for a career.”

He targeted Berklee College of Music in Boston and Musicians Institute in LA — but that meant he needed his diploma even though he lacked inspiration at school.

“School was just unbearable for me,” Connor says. “I was in a hole, and I definitely didn’t know how to get out of it.”

Long Valley Charters provided the lift. When he was 16, Connor and his mother moved to Plumas Pines, while his father and brother stayed in Southern California. His mother walked into the Portola Resource Center one day. She learned about the Personalized Learning program and shared the details with Connor, who enrolled right at the start of the term.

“I’m all about fate,” he says, and he knew from the first time he met his teacher, Miss Erin, that he belonged at the charter school. “She was a great teacher and really helped me get on my feet,” Connor says. “I’m a really independent worker with my music, so when it came to school it was really nice to be able to tell my teacher the best way that I work and they would let me do that.”

He began his junior year behind on credits and with a GPA under 3.0. He caught up on all missing credits and when he graduated with the class of 2015 he’d earned a 3.6 GPA. In addition, as a senior, the school commissioned him to teach guitar. He gave weekly lessons to nine other Portola students, ranging in age from 6 to 16.

Currently he’s providing instruction to Miss Erin’s 12-year-old daughter, Olivia. Capping his transformation and achievement of his aims, Connor was accepted to the Berklee College of Music. He’ll start at the prestigious music school this fall, and credits Long Valley with helping him get there.

“I definitely recommend doing charter school from the start of high school,” Connor says. “It’s definitely better because you can hone in on schoolwork and go at your own pace. I just think it’s smarter.”