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Thankful

[thangk-fuhl]: adjective 1. feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.

thankful_smiley_faces

There may be nothing controversial, innovative, groundbreaking, novel, or unique about expressing gratitude this time of year, but that does not make it an insignificant or wasted expression. Time spent counting our blessings and expressing thanks is always time well spent.

What is PA Virtual thankful for this year? Our CEO Dr. Joanne Barnett, sums up PA Virtual's gratitude simply and succinctly...

“I am thankful for the opportunity of school choice and that it allows PA Virtual to exist.”

 

Our staff also wanted to share some of the things they are thankful for this year. Overwhelmingly, we are thankful for wonderful families and friends, and look forward to sharing turkey time with our loved ones. We also have some other wonderful things to be thankful for:

My supportive fellow teachers, and students who amaze me every day.
—Tammy Bacon, High School Academic Support Teacher

I am thankful for educational choice in Pennsylvania!
—Sara Myer, Parent Ambassador Regional Coordinator, East

I am thankful for the variety of funky-colored wigs I have collected!
—Cindy Willits, 6th grade teacher and avid wig/hat collector

I am thankful for a dedicated K-2 faculty!  It makes me excited to know that our students are in good hands and will be able to demonstrate steady, forward progress.
—Michelle Verga, Elementary Principal Grades K-2

I am thankful for the wonderful families I am working with this year.
—Jackie SieberTeacher-Grade 4

I’m thankful for music!  I love to listen to all types of music, and I love that music can help me express my feelings. It helps me feel better when I’m stressed or sad, and it is always fun to listen to when I’m happy and feeling good! It is very therapeutic for me. Music helps to make our world a better place!
—Christy Ansell, First Grade Teacher

Sunshine and 70 degrees in November!
—Kathy Anderson, Music Teacher

And last but not least, a particularly poignant entry from Diane Eversmeyer, Tutor for Intermediate/Middle Math:

This year has been a year of ups and downs; it has felt like a roller coaster.  To say that I am not thankful just for my family being here would be an understatement and something that is hard to put into words. Close family members are battling and have battled serious health issues, but Thanksgiving is here and so are we. All of the pain and strife that everyone must go through in his or her life has made us all stronger, and a family that takes nothing for granted. My children have grown into loving adults and parents through all the bumps and bruises with wonderful children of their own. Life couldn't be more of a blessing, and things couldn't be more peaceful. Though sickness comes and hits all of us hard there is a light at the end of that tunnel. It is always good.  Life will always move on, and on this Thanksgiving, I give thanks for all the little blessings I can count in my life everyday.  They may not always shine bright, but if I look for them I know I will always find them.

Pass the tissues along with the mashed potatoes. Thank you Diane, for helping us remember to count our blessings not just today, but every day.

We'd love to hear what you are thankful for, too. Please share with us in the comments. And we at PA Virtual wish you and your loved ones a warm, wonderful Thanksgiving.

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Posted on: November 26, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

In the Community

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What Exactly is...

Daylight Savings Time Saving?

daylight-savings-time (1)Although it has been a few weeks since we set our clocks back for Daylight Savings Time, the shortening daylight has us wondering once again... What exactly is Daylight Savings Time? Why do we do it?

According to timeanddate.com, Daylight Savings Time (or DST, as the cool kids call it) is intended to make better use of daylight and save energy. The web site details the history of DST, going the whole way back to ancient civilizations. (Who knew?)Modern DST has only been practiced for about 100 years, and despite a few bumps in the road, it is now practiced in over 70 countries.

Webexhibits.org also has a series of pages dedicated to learning about DST. Did you know, for example, about the "Daylight Saving Donut"? No, it's not a special breakfast treat you get to eat when we change the clocks. According to webexhibits.org, the donut exists in Arizona due to different observation of DST:

In the U.S., Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time, but the Navajo Nation (parts of which are in three states) does. However, the Hopi Reservation, which is entirely surrounded by the Navajo Nation, doesn’t observe DST. In effect, there is a donut-shaped area of Arizona that does observe DST, but the “hole” in the center does not.

What other interesting things do you know about DST? What did you learn from the site? Do you like DST? Let us know in the comments!

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Posted on: November 17, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

Did You Know?

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Adults Can “Choose Kind,” Too

random-acts-of-kindnessToday at PA Virtual, one of our students led a presentation entitled “Choose Kind” as part of a month-long anti-bullying campaign spearheaded by our Guidance Counselors. The presentation led to a discussion among students about how to treat each other.

A quick internet search on “choose kind” yields a wealth of sites promoting that message. From Random House to Disney, The Chicago Tribune to YouTube, the sites encourage kindness among our children, feature stories about bullying, or provide kindness resources.

It’s curious to note, however, that the sites are seemingly all geared towards children. This begs the question, “Are children the only ones who need to be reminded to be kind?”

Studies show that children learn a great deal from their parents’ behaviors, so it seems crucial to ask whether or not we, as parents, are modeling kind behaviors.

While the adult world no longer features playground or school bus drama, we do regularly encounter seemingly insignificant situations where we can show our children that we choose kindness, too. For example…

  1. At the Checkout. Are you kind to the salesclerk, even when a purchase transaction experiences some difficulty?
  2. While Driving. Are you considerate to other drivers by obeying traffic regulations, using your turn signals, thanking other drivers for their kindness, etc.?
  3. In the Aisles. When looking for an item on the shelf, do you place your cart off to the side so that other shoppers can pass?
  4. At a Restaurant. Could you help the waitstaff by stacking your plates or even handing them to the server?
  5. Going in and Out. Do you hold the door open for others, even those who are not elderly?

How else can we, as adults, show kindness? We’d love to hear your suggestions!

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Posted on: November 13, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

In the Community

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Veterans Day: Just Memorial Day, Part 2?

veterans-day-2009Tomorrow is Veterans Day, and it often seems like we focus on having a day off of work or school more than we do the holiday and its meaning. Perhaps it is because we don't quite understand the holiday's intent, seeing it rather as a "recycled" Memorial Day. Even the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs web site is aware of the conflation, and address it in its FAQ:

Q. What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

A. Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served - not only those who died - have sacrificed and done their duty.

The Memorial Day Foundation web site also has an explanation of the differences and includes some historical information, as well.

If you'd like some ideas on how to honor a veteran this Veterans Day--or any day--this list from United We Serve is a great place to start. It includes 10 ways to support and honor veterans, including things as simple as visiting, creating a care package, or just saying,"Thank You."

How do you plan to honor a veteran this year? Do you have a veteran in your family that you'd like to honor in the comments? Tell us about him or her!

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Posted on: November 10, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

Did You Know?

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Let the Music Play!

Many of us are likely aware of research that supports the benefits of music education for children and young adults. It can improve language development, IQ scores, spatial-temporal scores, and more. While scientific research is important in recognizing and understanding the benefits music education provides, it is also important to hear from students themselves about how they interact with music and what they appreciate about it.

This week’s featured guest blogger, Haley Bayline, is a 10th grader from Port Allegheny who has been with the school for about three years. This musical maven plays the flute and dabbles in guitar and piano, as well. She has also been taking voice lessons for the past three years. Her favorite band is Black Veil Brides, her favorite single artist is Emile Sande, and in her free time, Haley likes to sing, write, cook, and stay fit (especially by running). After graduation, she hopes to attend college, become a registered licensed dietitian, and eventually open her own business.

In the blog, Haley shares her reasons for being so passionate about music. Are you passionate about music, too? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

Magical Musical Melodies

MeMy love for music is indescribable. Music is not just a part of my life; music is my entire life. I walk around every day giving different situations different songs. Maybe I would pick a heavy metal song for a frustrating moment in my day, or a soft classical song for the moments that I wish to cherish. Either way, music has an effect on my day that is enchanted.

Some people believe in fairies, potions, spells, and other mysterious intangibles in life, but I believe in music. Music is its own form of magic. Melodies have the ability to alter your mood, to change your day, and vary your thought process. Some music can change all of this with just a simple melody or a few lyrics. One minute you could be perfectly fine, and the next in tears over something as simple as a song. I know everybody has experienced this sometime in their life, and if they haven’t, they will in due time. Different genres have so many diverse effects on a person. Music has a magical element that not many people notice. How can a pattern of notes make you feel upset? How could the same notes in a different pattern make you angry? How could a few short words make you tear up? The answer lies within your heart. Music makes a connection with your soul that is unbreakable, undeniable, and unfathomable. Music has the power to change your entire world, but here’s the real question: Will you allow it?

For more on the benefits of music, check out these online sources:

Twelve Benefits of Music Education

20 Important Benefits of Music In Our Schools

11 Facts About Music Education

Music Matters: How Music Education Helps Students Learn, Achieve, and Succeed

MUSIC EDUCATION BENEFITS

Music Training Sharpens Brain Pathways, Studies Say 

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Posted on: November 06, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

Super Student

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Science: Not-So-Weird

k14443147Today on our Facebook page, we shared a great article from Philly.com about girls and science (Boccella, Kathy. Teen girls having fun - with science, 11/7/14, philly.com). Highlighting Super Science Saturday, an event hosted at West Chester University, the article reminds us that we continue to face a significant educational dilemma: “Even in an era when more women are attending college than men, there is still a shortage of females working in the fastest-growing fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.” (Bocella)

It got us thinking… what resources are out there to encourage girls to pursue futures in science?  We found a fun web site right away. Science: It’s a Girl Thing! is an engaging site that offers a newsletter, quizzes (“Discover your inner researcher”), profiles of women in science, event listings, and much more!

We also got to thinking about how math and science is “sold to girls”—does it have to be prettied up (“Your chemistry degree means you can make lipstick!”)? Diana Betz of Scientific American explores this issue in a thoughtful article from 2012. Check out “The Trouble with Barbie Science” here.

Lastly, we really enjoyed meeting some “real” people who work in the sciences and math by reading Nancy McGuire’s article, “Science for All”, on the Student Science web site. Profiles include President Obama’s Science Advisor, a horse-loving supercomputer designer, and a college student who designed a Braille app.

Maybe that’s the best way to think about science: it’s for EVERYBODY! Boys, girls, horse-lovers, movie makers… and YOU!

What do you love about science? Are you a student planning to study science? Or are you a parent already working in the field? Share your stories with us. We’d love to hear them.

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Posted on: November 03, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

Quick Tips in Education

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