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In Honor of Labor Day...

What Did You Want To Be?

free-labor-day-imagesIt's Labor Day weekend! The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. According to the US Department of Labor, Labor Day "is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

In honor of work, we asked our staff about what they wanted to be when they were growing up. We got some great answers! And it's exciting to see how many of them have always wanted to be teachers...and are doing so today.

What did YOU want to be when you were growing up? Leave a comment and let us know!

I wanted to be a zoo keeper, and then I wanted to be a park ranger, and how that turned into a special education teacher is beyond me.
—Diane Eversmeyer, Tutor for Intermediate/Middle Math

In kindergarten, I wanted to be a babysitter.
—Dana Marra, Interim Director of Operations

I always loved horses, so in kindergarten I wanted to be a cowgirl.
Lisa Steen, Elementary Teacher

I wanted to be an actress.  :-)
—Kathy Anderson, Music Teacher

I wanted to be a marine biologist!  I had the most awesome biology teacher in middle school and from there on I was hooked on Science.
—Cindy Willits, 6th Grade Teacher

I wanted to be an actress! Then an interior designer, then a writer. Now I live vicariously through my students!
—Heidi Bazilian, Director of Experiential Learning

I wanted to be a Pediatrician or run my own resort.
—Jason Billups, Executive Director of Institutional Advancement

I seriously wanted to be a news reporter.  I used to go around interviewing people with my thumb sticking up as a microphone.  My hero was Kermit the Frog, who did a News Flash segment on Sesame Street when I was little.
—Tammy Bacon, Academic Support Teacher

I have always dreamed of being a midwife.
—Nina Cimino, Special Education Teacher

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember!  I loved my 1st grade teacher.  She made school fun and I wanted to be just like her.  I’m lucky to be able to do what I’ve always wanted to do!
—Renee Keiser, Elementary School Teacher

I wanted to be an architect and interior designer.
— Meg Dubbs, Director of Creative Services

I wanted to be a Fashion Designer.  And a Musician. And a Teacher.
— Jamie Shedd, Senior Project Manager

I thought my orthodontist had the easiest job ever and I wanted to be one.
—Debby Adamo, Title I Academic Support Teacher

When I was younger, I wanted to be the ice cream lady at Dairy Queen.
Jennifer Burke, Middle School Math Teacher

First I wanted to be a teacher, because both my parents were teachers. Then I changed my mind and wanted to be an actress or an anthropologist, because both my parents were teachers!
—Rebecca Scalese, German Teacher

I took a career aptitude test in high school and the results stated that I should be a funeral director!  Instead, I chose education – I like working with the living!
—Carol Alvarnaz, Academic Support Teacher

I wanted to be a teacher.
—Diana Perney, High School Principal

I actually wanted to be a teacher!  I also wanted to be a Broadway performer and a photographer.
—Katie Barnett, 1st Grade Teacher

I ALWAYS wanted to be a teacher.  I played “school” from the time I was very young.  I am living the dream.  Children are amazing and it is an honor to be part of their world.
—Mary Ellen Moore, Language Arts Interventions Specialist, III

I wanted to work with gorillas and orangutans at the zoo. I think I just wanted the job description to focus on feeding them a lot of bananas and making sure they felt loved.
Heather Schaffer, Family Support Coordinator

I wanted to be an astronaut!! Far cry from being an English teacher!
—Pamela Slater, High School English Teacher

Professional Baseball Player/Bass Master Pro.
—Rich Costa, Operations Coordinator, Reclamations and Facilities

I wanted to be a teacher or a journalist!
—Julie Craig, 4th Grade Teacher

I went back and forth between teacher and nurse.
—Michelle Verga, Elementary Principal

For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a teacher.
—Lisa Giannuzzi, Title 1 Parent Engagement Coordinator

As a young adult graduating high school, I had wanted to be a librarian.
—Kristin York, Project Manager, Pupil Health

When I was growing up I wanted to be a teacher and a mommy.
—Melissa Barto, Special Education Teacher

I always wanted to be a teacher.
—Jacqueline Sieber, Teacher-Grade 4

At five years old I taught myself the manual alphabet and ever since I've wanted to work with the deaf.
—Johnna Kinney, Special Education Teacher

I wanted to be a teacher and I am teacher. Go figure.
 —Robin Elder (Walbeck), High School Mathematics Teacher

I have always liked to cook, so I wanted to be a chef.
—Sarah Goodwin, High School Physics & Math Teacher

 I've always wanted to be a science teacher! It’s true, I've always loved science and found a way to inflict my enthusiasm on others.
—Kay Hollenbach, High School Teacher

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Posted on: August 28, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

Getting To Know You


Most Exciting Upcoming YA Books

It seems that Young Adult novels are more plentiful than ever these days, and are so engaging that even adults have been reading them. Goodreads, a web site created to help people find and share books they love, asked its members to vote on the YA/teen novels that they are most looking forward to being released for the first time.

No doubt students will be doing a lot of reading this school year. What books is your student looking forward to reading this year, either in school or for pleasure? Are you looking for a new reading experience, too? Perhaps you and your student can read the books together and have your own “book club!”

Here are the Top Ten Books, as voted by Goodreads members. Which on(s)e will you read?stack-of-books

  1. The Seeker (The Host, #2), by Stephenie Meyer
  2. Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1), by Cassandra Clare
  3. The Soul (The Host, #3), by Stephenie Meyer
  4. The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus, #5), by Rick Riordan
  5. Prince of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2), by Cassandra Clare
  6. The Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices, #3), by Cassandra Clare
  7. Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4), by Marissa Meyer
  8. The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #3), by Michelle Hodkin
  9. The Racketby John Green
  10. The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines, #6), by Richelle Mead

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Posted on: August 25, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

Did You Know?


A Day in the Life of a

Cyber School Student: Part 1

lexiToday we feature one of our students as a guest blogger, giving you an inside look at what it's like to be a cyber student.  Lexi Dingeldein is a 10th grade student at PA Virtual and has been with us since kindergarten. She's involved in an FRC Robotics Team, and loves to plan, read, and write. She's even published three books, all of which are available on Amazon.

You hear the distant buzzing of your alarm. With a groan and a rollover, you smack the snooze button and shove your covers off of you. After wrapping a robe around yourself, mostly for warmth, you waddle out of your room and to your desk. You settle into your chair, flip open your laptop, and press the start button with a yawn. While you wait for your blue and green welcome screen, your gaze swings toward the general direction of the kitchen. Glancing at the computer once more to ensure it isn’t on yet, you shuffle to the kitchen to get breakfast. Once your bowl of cereal is secure, you carry it back to your desk and log onto your computer.

First stop is Blackboard. You open your browser, and log into your homepage. “Thank you for logging into Blackboard!” are the first words to greet you. You check your central hub for any information about your day that you may need to be aware of. Your hub may be your teacher’s classroom, your homeroom teacher’s page, or the High School Hub, depending on your grade level. Then you check your schedule to discover what live Collaborate classes you have that day.

You’ve got an hour until your first live class begins, so you check to make sure any assignments that needed to be completed are done. Once any homework is complete, you log onto the Online School and do something on your daily plan. Use your time wisely! Hmmm… An English lesson sounds good…

After finishing the English lesson, you head to your Live Collaborate class. Greeting your fellow students in the chatbox, you then scan the whiteboard to determine if you have anything required of you before class begins. Once this is discerned and taken care of, class begins and you devote your attention to your teacher, who you can see via webcam. She begins by asking questions about last night’s reading assignment, and you respond via the chatbox, while your more outgoing classmates use their microphones. The class lasts about an hour, after which you say farewell to your online friends and take a short stretch break before beginning your next lesson.

To Be Continued...

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Posted on: August 21, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

Getting To Know You


Finding Opportunities for Socialization

One of the concerns many parents have about cyber schooling revolves around socialization opportunities for their child. They may fear that their child will be isolated by not being in a brick-and-mortar classroom each day. However, experience has shown that cyber-schoolers are not at a social disadvantage compared to their peers. Both the cyber model and your local community offer numerous opportunities for students to socialize.


When cyber schools and families talk about socialization, what we are actually talking about is socializing, if we want to be precise. The VA Homeschoolers web site does an excellent job of explaining the difference between the two ideas:

“Socialization is the process of learning your culture’s expectations and norms for behavior. Socializing is the fun part of getting together with other people.”

Children schooled at home may even have an advantage in acquiring socialization skills. The web site continues:

“Children begin their socialization within their families—it is their parents and caregivers who teach young children to share and to take turns, etc. As children grow, their peers do reinforce those expectations…[b]ut those early lessons in how to behave come from caregivers, not other children.

As our children get older their basic lessons in how to behave still come from caregivers and mentors with reinforcement from others. Homeschoolers are at an advantage in learning socialization skills because they frequently have a higher adult-to-child ratio in their day-to-day lives than most school children; homeschoolers also have many more chances to interact with people of different ages than children who spend their days in age-segregated classrooms.”

In terms of opportunities to socialize, both the internet and your community are great resources. You may be able to find homeschool groups online via a web search or FaceBook search. If you can’t find one in your area, you can even start one of your own!

Communities also have a wide variety of activities for children and families. For example:

  • Sports teams
  • Scouting groups
  • Dance/theater schools
  • Martial arts schools
  • Parks and Recreation Departments
  • Church activities and groups

Volunteering is also a great way to provide opportunities for both socialization and socializing.

Each cyber school will have its own method of providing social opportunities. As an example, here are some of the options that PA Virtual offers:

  • Occasionally, teachers my open their virtual classrooms early or keep them open after the lesson to allow students to chat.
  • Students interact with their peers through class discussion and team projects.
  • Students who meet in classes often exchange email addresses or use other social media to create online friendships
  • Outings in all regions served by the school, visiting places like museums, zoos, parks, and historical sites.
  • Virtual clubs, such as yearbook, student council, honor society, and cooking club.

As can be seen, the opportunities for socializing really are plentiful. And because of the flexibility provided by the virtual school educational model, you can plan your day to easily include both instructional time and social time.

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Posted on: August 18, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

About Cyber Education


What IS a Cyber Charter School, Anyways?!

learning laptop

A cyber charter school is a tuition-free, public school that children attend from home via computer technology. Nearly 20,000 students in Pennsylvania take advantage of this model of education.

While cyber schools offer varying instructional models, curriculum and technology, many—such as PA Virtual Charter School—have fully certified teachers, the same classes offered in traditional “brick-and-mortar” schools, tutoring, and social outings.

Cyber school classes can be taken with a live teacher online, or can be more self-directed. Homework and projects are submitted online and testing, with the exception of mandated state testing, is administered  via computer. Through teaching and curriculum, students are able to conduct science experiments, create art and music, and participate in physical education in the loving and nurturing environment of their own home.

A state-approved cyber education is fully transferrable to other public schools, and qualifies students for entrance into college, trade school, and other secondary education opportunities.

Some of the benefits of a cyber education include:

  • Self-paced learning—Students can move as quickly or slowly as needed to master the material
  • Parent involvement—Parents can see what their children are learning on a daily basis. No cyber school student can answer the “What happened at school today” question with a “Nothing...”
  • Safety—There is no risk of physical violence in a cyber learning environment
  • Flexibility—Students can structure their day to work when they work best, or to work around commitments to outside pursuits


Additional Resources:

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Posted on: August 13, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

About Cyber Education