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5 Things You Can Do Now to Get Your Kids Ready for School


As August approaches, families can’t help but think about back-to-school– whether it’s the kids thinking about how many days of summer vacation they have left, or parents thinking about back-to-school shopping. There are some things you can do now to ease your family into the back-to-school mindset and allow everyone to enjoy the remaining weeks of summer. Laura Shearer, School Counselor at PA Virtual Charter School, provided us with some tips so you can hit the ground running once the school year starts.

  • Get into a routine. – Now’s the time to start weening your kids off of sleeping until 10am and going to bed late. “Make sure the family starts doing things like having breakfast at a certain time together or is dressed by 7:30” says Shearer. “You don’t have to have all the routines down at once, but something as small as knowing I need to have breakfast before 8AM can do wonders for when you need to be ready for school by an exact time.”

  • Create a distraction-free environment. – “Whether your child goes to a brick and mortar or virtual school, your child is going to need a space to do school work. Create a distraction-free environment now so they get used to this area of the house being a quiet area.” Shearer also adds the importance of having as little technology in the room as possible. “At the very least, if an area is designated to be the learning or quiet area for a few hours, make sure that the TV or tablet is off.”

  • Practice time management. – “It’s one thing to have your children do chores around the house.” says Shearer. “There is a different impact if your child has to get a chore completed by a specific time.” Getting kids, whether they are entering first grade or 11th grade, used to deadlines is critical for getting the school year off on the right foot. “Having a bridge between the lazy days of summer and the hustle and bustle of the fall creates less of a shock for students and parents.”

  • Ask your child about their day. – You may know exactly what your child did today, but getting them to tell you in their own words helps with your child’s processing, which makes it easier for your kids to remember lessons in the Fall. “Don’t be afraid to ask for details. If your child says they went to the park, ask them specifically what they did.” Shearer notes that every child is different and some kids, especially teenagers, may be a little lean with the details. “The purpose of this is accountability. If you know you are going to be asked about something, you are going to pay more attention to details while you do it, even if it’s going to the mall.”

  • Get back-to-school shopping done early. Plan to have all school supplies and school shopping done weeks before the first day of school. This will allow families to enjoy the last few weeks of summer together without the stress of thinking about back-to-school shopping. “Also make sure any schedules for the first day of school are checked, and all summer reading is done” says Shearer. Shearer also suggests involving younger children in shopping for school supplies. “If your child helps pick it out, they will take more pride in their books and pencils, not to mention, it’s a nice boost to their self-esteem.”

Back-to-school is an adjustment time for everyone, but following these tips may just make that transition a bit easier. 


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Posted on: July 26, 2017 by Sheik Meah in

Quick Tips in Education


Class of 2017 Spotlight: Daniel Pfeiffer

Daniel P Blog.jpgDaniel Pfeiffer was born with a rare craniofacial condition that required six major skull reconstructive surgeries. In addition to physical disabilities, Daniel was also diagnosed with a number of developmental learning disabilities, which made a traditional brick and mortar school environment nearly impossible. 

Daniel has attended school online all his life. PA Virtual has given him the individualized learning experience in a way that meets his needs and has helped him exceed expectations. From a hospital recovery room, to the comfort of his own home, not only had Daniel worked hard to graduate on time from PA Virtual, but he has done so with honors and was the 2017 recipient of the Dr. Adrienne Scurry-Marinnie Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship, in honor of PA Virtual’s late Director of Family Support and Student Services, is presented to a graduating senior who overcame significant barriers in their education.

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During his time at PA Virtual, Daniel overcame the obvious barriers that existed because of his physical and developmental disabilities, but became a vocal advocate for others with craniofacial conditions. The flexibility of a cyber school schedule allowed him to volunteer for the non-profit Philly Phaces to create craniofacial awareness through public speaking events.  Philly Phaces is a nonprofit support group for children and families dealing with craniofacial differences and work directly with many of the patients through CHOP's Division of Plastic surgery. Daniel has also helped raise awareness by volunteering with another area nonprofit My Name is Lentil formed by Lindsay Condefer and her dog Lentil, who has a cleft lip and palate.

“I have never looked at my disabilities as an anchor in my life but as a form of motivation to build up my abilities,” said Daniel, who plans to pursue Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Innovation in the medical field is nothing new to Daniel. He has already engineered some unique inventions of his own, such as a PVC wheelchair for a shelter cat unable to walk and a pouch that eases pain for patients who need Jackson-Pratt drains after surgery, which is common in the craniofacial community.

“As a lifelong patient at CHOP, I have firsthand experience with the difficulties that impact craniofacial patients,” he said. “By furthering my education at Stevens, I know that someday I can help fix these problems so that patients in any hospital have a positive experience.”

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Posted on: July 20, 2017 by Jennifer Kilpatrick in

Super Student


Why Cyber?


Summer is the perfect time for parents to reflect upon their children’s learning environment and consider their options. Have you ever wondered if a public school might be a good choice for your child? This blog will highlight some of the benefits of a cyber education and help parents learn more about what online options like PA Virtual have to offer.

Has your child been struggling academically? Are they interested in pursuing other athletic activities or passions? Is there something just not working at your child’s current school but you can’t put your finger on it? In Pennsylvania, families are afforded a handful of choices when it comes to K-12 education. There are of course, parochial and private schools where families would directly pay tuition for each student to the school, but also a number of public options you could explore if you are looking for a change.

Public cyber charter schools give students the flexibility to learn in their own home. Cyber school doesn’t mean that students are left alone for hours on end with a screen in front of them—and at PA Virtual nothing could be farther from the truth. The PA Virtual Diamond Model of partnership ensures students are surrounded and supported from all sides. Curriculum & Technology, Academics, Parent/Learning Coach involvement and Family Support all provide students with the essential tools for learning and achievement.

Every PA Virtual student is provided with a personal laptop and other technology needed for class. The K12 curriculum is nationally recognized and accessed through a custom online platform, so students have the resources of the internet at their fingertips. The academic program supports each child’s individual needs and is taught by highly qualified, PA-certified teachers. The Parent/Learning Coach model means that the adult in the child’s life actively participates in their education and ensures their success. Lastly, PA Virtual has a hands-on Family Support Program; including nine regionally-based Family Support Coordinators. These are not teachers, but additional support staff who provide an array of resources and socialization opportunities for parents and students. 

Are we right for you? Learn more about cyber schooling and how PA Virtual could give your family a custom online educational experience from the comfort of your own home.


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Posted on: July 13, 2017 by Jennifer Kilpatrick in

About Cyber Education


Congratulations Mrs. Gallagher, Teacher of the Year Nominee!

Christine Gallagher.jpgMrs. Christine Gallagher just finished her 11th year teaching 5th grade at PA Virtual this June; and the end of this school year came with an extra surprise. Mrs. Gallagher has been nominated by one of our PA Virtual students as Teacher of the Year!

Mrs. Gallagher is in the running for the 2019 Teacher of the Year Award. The award is organized by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and involves a lengthy application and review process.  Mrs. Gallagher, along with other nominees from around the state, will be observed at various times during the 2017-2018 school year. The selection committee of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year reviews and scores nominations to select 12 Regional Finalists, which will be announced next summer. A final winner is announced at the SAS (Standards Aligned Systems) Institute in December.

“It is a wonderful honor to be nominated as a candidate for Teacher of the Year,” Mrs. Gallagher said. “I am very excited to show PDE how innovative cyber school can be and how much our students benefit from the flexible learning environment and rigorous curriculum provided by PA Virtual.”

Mrs. Gallagher was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Staten Island, New York. She first attended Caldwell College and studied Business Administration and Marketing. She spent several years in the product development, marketing and advertising industry, but decided she wanted to work with children and returned to school. She received her Master’s in Elementary Education and teaching certifications from Seton Hill University, and upon graduation, she began teaching at PA Virtual.

Teaching fifth grade can be challenging in the online setting, but she sees the opportunities her students have through technology and the endless resources at their fingertips through the computer. The collaborative online classroom environment removes insecurities that pre-teen students sometimes have about standing out or speaking in front of a classroom.

Parent involvement is an important part of the Diamond Model at PA Virtual, and with the right support in the classroom and at home, Mrs. Gallagher has seen first-hand just how much a student can grow. Not only does she witness academic growth in her students, but she interacts with them during an important stage of their life where they develop independence and confidence. 

Mrs. Gallagher connects with students from all over the state during the school year from her home in Greensburg, PA where she lives with her husband, two children and dog. When she is not teaching, she is actively involved at her church, loves swimming, basketball and reading.

Congratulations, Mrs. Gallagher!

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Posted on: July 06, 2017 by Jennifer Kilpatrick in |