Virtual Learning Allows Pursuit of Students’ Passion In and Out of the Classroom

When asked to name his hometown, Sebastian Montoya’s beaming smile spreads from ear to ear. It’s the kind of smile that radiates joy and maybe just a bit of mischievousness. But you soon learn the reason for his reaction. His answer isn’t as straightforward as it is for most 16-year-olds. He was born in Miami to Colombian parents but now splits his time between Monaco and Madrid, Spain – at least when he isn’t traveling the world racing for the Italian Formula 4 team Prema Powerteam.

Sebastian’s childhood has been anything but conventional. The son of Colombian F1 racing legend Juan Pablo Montoya and Connie Freydell, he has spent his life traveling the globe watching his father race, and since he was eight, racing karts in the U.S. and Europe before switching to Formula 4.

With his rigorous training and racing schedule, a traditional in-person school has always presented challenges.

Sebastian recalls when he first started karting, “I was about seven or eight years old. We had a car trip from Ocala, Florida, because we had a night race there and then I had to be back at school at 7:30 in the morning. We finished the race around 12:31 a.m. and then we packed everything and when I got back to Miami, I had a backpack with my school uniform from when I left Ocala, so I had to put the same clothes on and go back to school. My first period was math; I was good at math and already knew a bit of what we were learning, so I decided to put my head down to rest a little bit – I slept through the whole class.”

Thankfully, Sebastian had a good relationship with his understanding teacher and always maintained good grades, something he attributes to his mother, who he describes as “strict” when it comes to his education. But this is just one of many incidents that Sebastian remembers where his education and professional career collided when he attended a traditional classroom setting, pre-k through eighth grade.

The first time that Sebastian heard about Xceed Preparatory Academy was right before he started high school. His friends had heard about a new school for athletes and those that needed a non-traditional education.

“We went to check it out and it was very comfortable for me,” Sebastian said.

He soon enrolled and began taking classes both on campus and remotely, then in 2020, he began racing Formula 4 cars and the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so he switched to fully remote learning.

“COVID had just started and Xceed’s virtual school had just started as well, so I was able to do all my classes, no issue,” he said.

As an athlete that does a lot of traveling, the flexible schedule at Xceed was the most significant selling point.

“It’s very flexible on your time; obviously, you have due dates, but I use the due dates just to keep me on track with where I am. You go at your own pace. If I need to take a little bit more time on something, it’s not like a normal school; I can take a whole afternoon just on that one subject,” Sebastian shared.  “For example, Spanish I’m quite good at, so it’s easy for me. A unit we usually cover in a month I can cover in a week and a half. Same with math. But reading English, I struggle a bit. So, it takes me a bit longer to get there.”

When Sebastian does find that he needs a little bit more help on a subject, he knows he can always count on his teachers. Especially Xceed teacher, Deanna Robbins.

“She’s helped me a lot and she is always there for me. I can always send her a message and say, can you please help me out and she says, no worries,” said Sebastian. “All the teachers are really good, but I’ve known her the longest and we have worked together a lot.”

Attending Xceed has helped Sebastian in many aspects of his education and professional career, whether it’s the flexible schedule or the ability to choose to spend more time on subjects that interest him and helps him understand different aspects of racing.

“Math is very intriguing for me,” said Sebastian. “In racing, you have to know so much about aerodynamics. So, I always want to learn a little bit more in math.”

At Xceed, Sebastian and his family have found an academic program that fits their lifestyle. They love that they can continue living and traveling internationally while Sebastian maintains his education at a high standard.

Choosing to attend Xceed was “probably the best decision we’ve made,” stated Sebastian. “It’s been the best experience so far.”

For more information on Xceed’s innovative model of personalized education, click here.