There are hundreds of cyber charter school teachers across the state. You may be considering joining our ranks; however, there are so many questions people have about what it is like to teach at a cyber charter school! If you have a curiosity about making the leap, you may be asking yourself things like, “How do cyber teachers connect with their students?” or “How is teaching virtually different from teaching in a traditional brick and mortar school?” Well, sit back, reheat that coffee for the billionth time, and read on. In this post, I’m going to share with you what it’s like to teach at a cyber school, including the benefits (yay) and challenges (sigh) of teaching virtually.
During my thirteen years of cyber education, my Learning Coach and I sometimes had to defend our family’s school choice. Usually, the objections came from well-meaning people who heard stories from others or assumed that cyber school just didn’t cut it. Today, we’re going to debunk five common myths about cyber school.
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It can be a challenge to keep kids focused while schooling from home, especially if they tend to get easily distracted by things in their environment. Many students struggle with this, but there are things you can do to help to improve their focus. Here are some tips from seasoned PA Virtual Learning Coaches who have helped their students with this same challenge.
When speaking with parents, this is one of the most common questions we hear. In short, the answer is no, virtual learning is not a substitute to brick and mortar schools; virtual learning is an alternative. In some cases it can be a superior form of education – for the right student, if you choose the right school. There are certain advantages which virtual schools offer that traditional schools do not.
A good high school education is critical for young adults whether they plan to enter the workforce, join the military, or enroll in a college or university. Whatever your child's post-secondary plans, a high-quality high school education lays the foundation of developing the skills necessary to succeed post-graduation. The local district high school is not the perfect learning environment for every student. Some students require a different option. This blog will explore the benefits of cyber charter schools and why they might be a good fit for your child.
If you would have asked me during my graduate program what the likelihood of me working at a virtual school was, I would have told you slim to none. However, sometimes life has a funny way of taking control of things. As you can imagine and possibly relate to, I was furiously applying for jobs once I received my diploma. I applied to anything and everything available because I was determined to get a job in my field. I didn't have anything against virtual schools – I just simply knew nothing about them. My internships prepared me for working with large and diverse caseloads in a brick and mortar setting, and I was surprised to see just how well those skills transferred into this virtual setting.
School-related anxiety can develop as the result of many different factors. Managing it can sometimes be difficult, but there are options available to help your child. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of anxiety and to know when your child needs access to professional care. It is also important to support your child with compassion and understanding while you research steps that can be taken and choices you can make to help. Children often work through their anxiety while remaining in their current school setting. But, sometimes parents look for alternatives to their local public school in an effort to decrease the anxiety their child is experiencing.
Studying is an essential skill when it comes to academic success, but studying doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Whether you are a student struggling to find a study strategy that works for you or a parent looking to help your student improve their study habits, there are specific approaches you can apply to develop better study skills and get results. In this post, I will be sharing study tips that will help students succeed in school and in their future life experiences.
In a cyber school environment, establishing and maintaining a solid daily school routine is important not only for the student but also for the parent. It can help save time, reduce stress, and increase student cooperation. Sometimes it can be a challenge for families to maintain a steady routine, whether they get off track or don’t accomplish as much as they planned to for the day.
Thanks to the year 2020, several people are trying cyber schooling for the first time. For many families, distance learning is a new concept. For my family, though, it was a reality for thirteen years, as I advanced from kindergarten through high school in a cyber education model. I know that getting into a rhythm for cyber school can be challenging, but once you find that rhythm, this model of schooling will offer you so many opportunities to grow and succeed. Today, I want to focus on tips I can give you as a veteran of cyber school.
As cyber schooling continues to gain increased awareness and popularity, many families often question how exactly it all works. Parents wonder how much cyber education will cost and quickly discover that cyber charter schools do not have a tuition fee. Some questions we frequently get asked at PA Virtual are “If your school is free for families to attend, then how are you funded?” or “How can cyber schools and everything they offer be at no cost to the family?” This post is going to explore how cyber charter schools are funded and how they actually receive less funding than their district school counterparts.
Hi everyone; I am Mrs. Cindy Willits, M.Ed. I have had the pleasure of teaching online with PA Virtual since 2006 and have taught in various other capacities for many years. I am here to share with you some amazing ways that an online education can truly become a hands-on and immersive experience for your child! I always strive to make my classes engaging and to connect with my students meaningfully. Through innovative thinking, creative planning, use of webcam and online tools, getting hands-on with my online classes is amazingly memorable, and has become my favorite way to work with students! Join me now for some examples and PICTURES of how this works!
Kayla Turner attended PA Virtual from 4th grade through 12th grade. She has been staying busy since graduating from PA Virtual in 2015. Currently, she is pursuing her master’s degree in chemistry, and when she is not busy with her schoolwork, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family. This past summer, Kayla decided to enroll her daughter, Demetria, into 4th grade at PA Virtual for the 2020-2021 school year. We recently caught up with Kayla to learn more about her decision to enroll her daughter at her Alma Mater.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to learning, so there shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to educating our children. Every child learns differently, which requires varying forms of delivery to ensure each child receives an education that meets their individual needs. The way we choose to educate our children will have a lasting impact on them throughout their lifetime.
Being a parent at a cyber school is a big time commitment, and it can certainly come with its challenges. If you have multiple children enrolled in a cyber school, it can be an even bigger challenge as a parent to provide the necessary assistance to each of your students when their live classes occur simultaneously.
One might wonder what it is like to suffer from social anxiety. Imagine being in a social situation with the constant thought or fear of being judged for being quiet or for blushing. In the classroom, an individual is anxious about presenting in front of the class. His or her focus and attention is diverted towards their pounding heart, warm cheeks, and trembling voice instead of the presentation topic. Walking down the hallway or participating in class might make a student uneasy due to the perceived judgment of others.
There is no doubt that a little organization goes a long way to helping us get more done each day. Staying organized throughout the school year can serve as a challenge, especially while learning in a home environment, but solid organizational skills will help set you up for continued success. If you're looking for some best practices on how to get yourself organized in a cyber school, here are some tips that may help.
Being involved in your child's education can be very rewarding as a parent, and it's something many cyber school parents cherish. However, there are various daily challenges you may face as a parent of a cyber school student, especially if you are new to the model. One of those challenges may be teaching your child to stay on task without having to provide constant reminders.
It can be a challenge for both students and parents to get back into the swing of things at the beginning of the school year. For many students, summer vacation means getting to stay up past their normal bedtime or waking up later than usual in the morning. In order to set the tone for a successful school year, it’s important to establish and maintain a daily routine. We asked for advice from PA Virtual High School Guidance Counselor, Crystal Widmann and she shared some tips that can help both parents and students alike.
As a parent, you have many choices when it comes to your child’s education. If you have been considering the cyber education model for your child, you might be doing your research to determine which cyber school in Pennsylvania would be the best fit. With 14 cyber charter schools throughout the state, you have quite a few options to choose from. Here are 5 reasons why PA Virtual could be a great fit for your family.
Gone are the days where the vast majority of students in a town attend the same high school based simply on their addresses. Though some students may have attended a private school, the price of tuition put the option out of reach for most families. With such limited choices, students and families were caught between their local school district and the high prices of private school. Fortunately, today, students have tuition-free options. You may be curious about whether attending high school online is a good opportunity for you. Look through the information and questions below and ask yourself if an online high school is a good fit for you. First, let’s start with some basics.
In the cyber learning model, the role of the parent is very important. At PA Virtual, we refer to the parent or primary responsible adult at home with the student as the Learning Coach, and they serve as our eyes and ears in the home-based classroom. The physical presence of parents is needed to keep students focused and on task with what is happening in the virtual classroom. It is this type of dedication on the parent’s part that will contribute to ongoing student success. Sometimes it may appear a student is participating in class, but their grades do not reflect the amount of time they are online.
There are a lot of ways to get the school year off to a great start with your children – eating healthy, sleeping regularly, and of course, teaching good study habits. Although it is vital that students study effectively for their classes, many children struggle with developing and maintaining good study habits. Here are 5 tips on how you can help your child excel in studying.
Cyber schooling is proving to become a more popular and convenient option for families in the 21st century. Virtual education allows students to learn from the comfort and privacy of their own home. What does this mean for the parents/guardians of the students? Enrolling in a cyber charter school can be a huge transition from a traditional brick and mortar school, not only for the student but also for the parents/guardians. So what exactly should you expect when you enroll your child in a cyber charter school? In today's post, we'll explain some things you can expect when enrolling your child in a cyber school.
You may be considering a cyber charter school for your child or are new to the cyber charter model. Being a cyber charter school parent can be a difficult adjustment at first. Today, we’ll cover five helpful tips that will hopefully make your job as a cyber charter school parent easier.
It's no secret that the world has certainly changed drastically in the past 20 years due to advances in technology. When PA Virtual first opened its doors in 2001, many things were different than they are now in 2020. As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we thought it would be a fun idea to reflect back on the past 20 years and how the world has evolved since we starting educating students online in 2001. Here's a list of 20 things that have changed since 2001.
Each year, about 4 million children in America start kindergarten. One of the most important parts of a kindergartner’s education is spending time sharpening their basic learning skills. No matter where your child is attending kindergarten this fall, there are areas you can focus on as parents to help your children succeed.
Pennsylvania is a state rich in history. As part of our celebration for serving families in Pennsylvania for the past 20 years, we are bringing you a series of “Top 20” lists. Today, we’re providing a list of 20 historical places to visit throughout the state.
As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we are bringing you a series of "Top 20" lists. With the upcoming school year right around the corner, you may be considering PA Virtual as an educational option for your child. In this post, we're providing you with the answers to our 20 most frequently asked questions.
If you are thinking of making the jump to cyber school, you are probably feeling a mixture of excitement, confusion, and anticipation. What if it isn’t the right fit for you? How will you communicate with the teacher? Will you meet other students? And the big question is ‘How does online high school work?’ Will you have a schedule? Do you have to go to class? How will they know if you are ‘in’ school? How will you submit your assignments? How do you get help if you have a question? These are all valid questions since cyber schooling is a relatively new concept. Cyber schools take the concepts that work in your traditional district school and add tweaks to meet the unique needs of students. You will find that the flexibility of cyber schools will allow you to live your life while at the same time earning a top-notch high school education.
For those who are new to the idea of online education, a common concern is whether online school is a good education option. Will your student be able to go to college? If you transferred your child back to a brick and mortar school, would he or she be on target? Can online school challenge your child and support them? Even once you know it can be a good option, you may wonder if your child would excel in a virtual model.
In the 2020-2021 school year, PA Virtual Charter School will be celebrating 20 years of online education for Pennsylvania students. As part of our celebration and our "Top 20 lists" blog series, we asked our parents and staff members what makes them proud to be part of the PA Virtual family. Here are some reasons why our community is #PAVirtualProud!
In continuation with our theme of “lists of 20s” for our 20th anniversary celebration, we wanted to highlight some of our awesome student success stories in today’s blog post. We reached out to our teachers who provided many great examples of all the awesome things our students, both current and former, have accomplished both inside and outside of the classroom. Keep reading to learn about some of the achievements of current and former PA Virtual students!
As part of celebrating 20 years of educating students in Pennsylvania, we are bringing you a series of blogs that each have “lists of 20s” as the theme. We asked our elementary school teachers to provide us with some of their favorite books for students in grades k-4. This week, we’re sharing a list of some great book recommendations for elementary school children.
The 2020-2021 school year will mark PA Virtual’s 20th anniversary, and we are so excited about this milestone! As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we are bringing you a series of blog posts with “list of 20s” as the theme. With summertime upon us, you may be looking for some ways you can keep your child engaged. In this week’s blog post, we're providing 20 ideas of how you can keep your child engaged over the summer break.
People love story. That’s why it can be tempting to spend summer free time watching television and movies. However, reading is another great way to enjoy story. I want to share some wonderful books with you. These are stories that can transport you to other times, places, and into grand adventures. As part of PA Virtual's 20th anniversary celebration, here are 20 novels you might enjoy reading this summer!
Each fall teachers work with students who have experienced the all too common “summer slide.” Symptoms include learning loss, forgetting math formulas, and even a decrease in vocabulary. Studies have shown that students can lose up to one month of skills and knowledge learned during the school year over the summer, so keeping academic skills intact is a concern for many parents. After all, we want our students to be ready to make progress when school starts back up in September, rather than spending the first few weeks playing “catch up.”
Here at PA Virtual Charter School, we’re very excited about an upcoming milestone this year - we are celebrating our 20th anniversary in the 2020-2021 school year! Over the past 20 years, we have had the great pleasure of educating so many wonderful students who have gone on to accomplish great things after they graduated from PA Virtual.
PA Virtual will be celebrating its 20th school year in the 2020-2021 school year, and we are so excited about this upcoming milestone! As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we are bringing you a series of blog posts with “list of 20s” as the theme. To kick things off, in this week’s blog post, we are going to provide you with 20 quick facts about PA Virtual Charter School.
Of all the countless decisions you’ll make as a parent, perhaps none are so important as how you choose to educate your child. Yet, for all the weight and consequence placed on this choice, it sometimes feels like straightforward information on the topic is frustratingly hard to come by.
When you hear a family is homeschooling their child, it often doesn’t mean what it did 20 years ago. Many times the family is actually schooling their child through a cyber charter school, a home-based education program. PA Virtual Charter School is one of several cyber charter schools available to Pennsylvania families and has been serving students since 2001. While the phrases are often used interchangeably, it’s important to note that homeschooling and cyber schooling are not the same. In this post, we will cover the top three differences between attending a cyber charter school and homeschooling.
If you’ve clicked on this article, you are probably researching the best educational options for your child. There may be a voice inside your head, urging you to look into your options. Inform yourself about a parent’s right to be involved in their child’s education, the multitude of opportunities available today, and let that intuition guide you.
Parents have a lot in common. In spite of varied backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems, we can probably all relate to sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, and sticky kisses. As our children reach school age, the similarities continue. We are expected to help our students succeed in school by communicating with teachers, assisting with assignments, and supporting student learning at home.
Education and learning isn’t limited to the classroom. There are numerous ways to engage your child in fun and educational activities no matter where you are. If you’re looking for some online resources to help your child better understand their studies, there are a number of educational and interactive websites to explore. This blog will share resources for all grade levels, as well as DIY and creative step-by-step art projects. Here are some of the best websites for students from elementary through high school.
For the past 20 years, PA Virtual Charter School has been educating students across Pennsylvania in a cyber learning environment. As advances in technology have created more opportunities for virtual learning, many parents may wonder how reading is taught in a cyber school and how students are supported in this model. In this post, I will explain how I teach students to read in a virtual learning environment and the benefits that come along with it.
Traditional public school not working for your child? Do you know what your options are? Did you know there are more options for your child than your local school district or private school? Anyone, anyone. No? (I hope you heard that in Ben Stein’s best teaching voice from the infamous scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) If you are confused by that movie reference, you might want to take the day off and watch Ferris Bueller.
With everyone’s lives quickly changing due to advances in technology, more and more opportunity for virtual learning is emerging. PA Virtual has been teaching students online for the past 20 years. While a traditional brick and mortar school may be a good fit for some children, a cyber charter school might be more suitable for your child. There are many advantages of choosing the cyber model when it comes to your child’s education. Considering the safety factors of a virtual environment is a huge factor that might impact your decision as well. Cyber schooling takes place from the comfort of students’ home environments, which limits the outside forces that often disrupt brick and mortar learning.
High school is an important time for children. It’s where children make lifelong friends, memories, and decisions on what they’ll do as they begin adulthood. For many families, the traditional high school format may not fit their child’s needs. Parents now have various educational choices for their young adult, including charter schools and cyber charter schools. Not only will these schools provide your child with a valid diploma, but they can also provide the challenge, support, flexibility and involvement your family is looking for. This post will explore reasons why families choose cyber charter school education and the kinds of students who attend these schools.
There are always plenty of questions parents have about PA Virtual and cyber charter schools in general when they start looking into the cyber education model. Over the past 20 years of serving Pennsylvania families, we have noticed a handful of questions that are frequently asked by prospective parents. In this post, we’ll be answering some of the most common questions that parents ask before they enroll their child with PA Virtual Charter School.
It’s very common for students of all different ages and grade levels to procrastinate on homework or school projects. Some students may put tasks off because they might feel overwhelmed with all of their schoolwork; others may procrastinate if the project seems too challenging to complete. Whatever the reason may be, it’s important to be aware of different ways to help your child defeat procrastination so that they can get into a good habit of managing their time effectively and staying on track with their assignments.
Synchronous and asynchronous are big words that can have a big impact on your online education experience. What do they mean? Is one better than the other? How do you know which one you will prefer without experiencing it? When I attended PA Virtual, I had my share of synchronous and asynchronous courses. Today, we will walk through their mechanics, personality traits that fit well with each, and their strengths and weaknesses. By the end of our time together, you should have a better idea of which instructional mode would be the right fit for you or your student, which will make your cyber charter education an even more profitable experience.
Online schooling is no longer limited to just colleges and universities. Children in Pennsylvania have been attending cyber charter schools for the past 20 years! While that may seem like a long time, much of the public is still unclear about what exactly cyber charter schools are and how they work. In this post, we will explore the top ways in which cyber charter schools are similar to and different from your local district school.
In the past 20 years of serving Pennsylvania students, PA Virtual has been supporting our families both inside and outside of the classroom. We understand the importance of continuously supporting our students and parents so that your child can reach their full academic and social potential in this model of education. So, how exactly does PA Virtual offer additional support to our students and families? Great question! Here are just a few support services and resources we provide throughout the year.
You may have considered a cyber charter school for your child but are not sure where exactly to begin. There are 14 cyber charter schools to choose from in Pennsylvania, so you have quite a few choices. These schools have some similarities but also many differences. It is important to do your research and to choose a cyber charter school that will be the right fit for your family. But, what questions should you ask? ln this post, we’ll discuss five important questions you should ask when researching which cyber charter school in PA is best for your family.
For the past 20 years that PA Virtual has been serving Pennsylvania children, our teachers, staff, and families have all learned a lot about the best practices of cyber schooling and how to set up our students to be successful in this model. If you've just started cyber schooling your child or children, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out where exactly to begin. First and foremost, you may be wondering where exactly your child should learn everyday. Many of our experienced families have shared with us that it helps to set up a specific area in the home where school "happens" each day. While some students may work just as well in a more relaxed environment, setting up a dedicated school area can be a great way for new families to get into the swing of things.
The National Education Association, Public School Review, and the National Parent Teacher Association agree. Parent involvement in education is key to student success. As NEA Today phrases it, “the most significant type of involvement is what parents do at home.”
It’s been over 20 years since school choice legislation was passed in Pennsylvania, and with over 150 charter and cyber charter schools in the state, parents now have more choices for their child’s education than ever. The reasons parents begin looking for a charter school can be as different as families themselves, but in the end, there is one common denominator: something in their current school situation isn’t working for them. Charter schools allow parents to make a choice that better suits their needs and the needs of their child.
Over 32,000 students are educated by cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania. Families that enroll their children in PA cyber schools note many different advantages for their children. For more information about charter schools and cyber charter schools, please take a look at our post, "Why Do Parents Prefer Charter Schools?" Today, we’ll explore the many reasons that families choose cyber charter schools for their children to help you determine whether a cyber charter school might be the right option for your family.
Zachary Griffith is a 2014 graduate of PA Virtual Charter School. After high school, he went on to attend Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania where he majored in Political Science with minors in Classical Studies and Legal Studies. He received his bachelor's degree in December of 2017 from Albright College. In 2018, he was accepted into Widener University's Delaware Law School and is currently in his second year of studies for a Juris Doctorate degree. Recently, Zachary was appointed to the Editorial Board of the Law Review at his law school. We caught up with Zachary who gave us some insight on how PA Virtual has prepared him for college and law school, and he also shared some advice for any current high school students considering a career in law.
As a parent, you obviously want to make the best choice for your child when it comes to schooling. Whether your child is approaching high school age, or is already enrolled in high school, it’s important for parents to understand that there are alternatives to public school available. Many parents worry that their local public school isn’t up to par for whatever reason. Perhaps their child has already had a bad experience in the school district, or perhaps you yourself are not satisfied with the way things are being done. That’s a frustrating situation to be in, but it doesn’t have to be permanent.
Have you ever feared speaking or performing in front of a group of people? Maybe you were feeling stressed just thinking about an upcoming presentation, performing in a concert, or taking an upcoming test. Some people perform or present without hesitation while others feel anything from a sense of nervousness to dread or fear. For many of us, just the thought of being watched by others is intimidating. But, for those who suffer from performance anxiety, getting up in front of others is a very stressful experience. Extreme nervousness experienced before or during participation in an activity taking place in front of an audience is called performance anxiety. This condition is more common than you may think and there are ways to help alleviate the symptoms.
At PA Virtual, parents are heavily involved in their children’s educational experience each day. It is crucial that all of our students have a dedicated adult to help support them through their academic journey, as this shows them that their education is a top priority. Parent involvement can lead to improved grades and test scores as well as lower drop-out rates, while being quite a rewarding experience for parents.
After attending PA Virtual from kindergarten through senior year, I transitioned to a brick and mortar college. While I did experience an initial learning curve, I discovered that I was well-prepared to succeed in a different educational environment. All the skills that have contributed to my current success came from my cyber charter school education. Today, I want to tell you about four skills which are unique to online education that geared me and my classmates towards success in college.
I love family meal time. I love it when schedules allow the whole family to be at the dinner table at the same time, enjoying favorite foods, and having great conversations that continue long after the last spoonful of chicken pot pie has been claimed. I love it the most when the conversations happen spontaneously, and we have to follow a backwards trail to figure out how the topic ended up here. And, of course, plenty of inside jokes and family stories make it even better.
Thousands of students each year realize that something isn’t working for them at their local school district and they start looking for an alternative way to receive their education. If that’s where you are and you’ve decided that a cyber charter school would be a great fit for you, you’ve come to the right place. This blog can help you prepare to talk with your mom (or dad) about making the choice to enroll at an online school.
Starting at any new school can be an adjustment for any family. For families making the jump to cyber education, there is often a transition period, especially for those who have just enrolled their first child into the world of virtual education. Let’s take a look at some important things you should know about PA Virtual Charter School.
Have you been considering if your family would be a good fit for a cyber school? There are several reasons why your family could benefit from cyber education for your child. Many families look into the cyber model for reasons like flexibility, individualized learning, convenience and safety, among other factors.
A common question prospective families ask us when beginning the enrollment process is how often their child will get to socialize with others while being educated in a virtual environment. It's a valid concern as socialization is an important part of a child's development. At PA Virtual, we offer a variety of opportunities for both students and their families to explore local attractions, meet other PA Virtual families in their area, and build strong relationships.
Parents are often curious about how music experiences work for students who attend a cyber school. Learning music virtually is quite similar to what it would be in a traditional brick and mortar setting. We learn music by listening. We learn music by creating it, by playing instruments and singing. This is a field that continues to evolve, but in this post I’ll explain more in depth how music is learned and taught and how I connect with students through music in our virtual environment.
Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), a cyber charter school is an independent public school and a non-profit organization that uses technology to deliver a significant portion of curriculum and instruction. More than 35,000 students in Pennsylvania take advantage of this model of education, and there are currently 15 cyber charter schools available to students across the state.
Do cyber students go to college? The short answer - YES! Just like many high school students, cyber school students DO go to college after they graduate. Parents often wonder how their child’s school will prepare them for post-graduation success, no matter which model of education they choose. In this post, we will explore how cyber students prepare for college, the resources available to PA Virtual Charter School students, and the success of our students.
The Learning Coach – Not a Nominal Role What’s in a name? Not much, according to Shakespeare. After all, a “rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” right? But names, as well as titles, carry lots of meaning, and it isn’t unusual for people, especially parents, to have several. A parent is not only “mom” or “dad,” but often coach, taxi driver, counselor, cook, nurse, and cheerleader – just to name a few.
“How have I survived without this online tool?” “How have I never heard of this app?” You will probably be asking yourself these questions by the time you finish reading this blog post. There are endless free online tools and resources out there to continually engage and teach students (and adults) year-round. Many of these tools are useful both in and out of school. Here are some of our favorites.
We recently hosted a Facebook Live session to answer the questions we get asked the most about two important topics when considering online learning: socialization and family support. Director of Student Services, Jason Fitzpatrick and Chief Human Resources & Marketing Officer, Sherri Tate also took questions live from the audience. We've compiled a list below of the questions people asked regarding socialization and family support specifically, as well as some general questions people asked about PA Virtual Charter School.
Have you ever wondered if a better option existed for your child’s education? Did you know that you, as a parent or guardian in Pennsylvania, have the right to choose the educational environment that works best for your child?
Transitioning to a cyber charter school can be a significant change, and one that is undertaken for a variety of reasons. Some families choose this model for the quality of education: that’s why my parents chose PA Virtual for me. For others, it’s a solution for problems sometimes faced at brick and mortar schools, such as anxiety and bullying. Still others come to cyber charter schools because of the flexibility they offer.
One of the biggest questions people have before trying something new is, “What does this experience look like?” For students moving to a cyber charter school, it can be difficult to imagine what school will be like in a different environment. I would love to tell you about what being a student at a cyber charter school is really like. I attended PA Virtual for grades K through 12. During my time here, I developed valuable skills, made great friends, and genuinely enjoyed learning. If you’re considering virtual school but are feeling nervous about the change, let me put your mind at ease.
We recently hosted a Facebook Live session to answer the questions we get asked the most about attending a cyber charter school, as well as questions about transitioning to a cyber charter school after the school year has started. Director of Parent Education & Engagement, Jennifer Brodhag and Director of Marketing & Communications, Jennifer Kilpatrick also took questions live from the audience. Jennifer Brodhag is also the parent of three former PA Virtual students. The recording of the session can be found below. Don't have time to watch? Keep scrolling for some of our most frequently asked questions.
PA Virtual class of 2012 graduate Holly Workman recently earned her Master’s of Music degree in Violin Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Now, Holly is gearing up to spend a year abroad– she was awarded a full scholarship to play violin at the Internationale Ensemble Modern Akademie in Frankfurt, Germany. This is a 12-month program beginning in October. We recently caught up with Holly to learn more about her journey as a violinist, from her very first lessons to her time at PA Virtual and beyond.
We recently hosted a Facebook Live session to answer the questions we get asked the most about attending a cyber charter school, as well as questions specific to PA Virtual. High School Assistant Principal, Laura Afshari and Director of Marketing & Communications, Jennifer Kilpatrick also took questions live from the audience. The recording of the session can be found below. Don't have time to watch? Keep scrolling to read the 10 most frequently asked questions.
Nicholas Griffith is a 2019 graduate of PA Virtual. During his time here, he utilized the flexibility offered to pursue his passion for swimming. Nicholas received honors from the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association of America, Inc. for his success in both academics and water polo. He also dual-enrolled with Albright College, where he began college in the Fall of 2019.
Is your high school student looking to explore options other than the traditional classroom? Are you, as a parent, a little nervous about the thought of homeschooling your student? Take a deep breath… You have options, and they don’t have to be scary! In this post, we will explore what is involved with being the parent of a high school student who is engaging in home-based learning, including homeschooling and virtual charter schools.
Graduating high school early might seem like an elite opportunity that only straight-A students with 4.0 GPAs can attain. However, it's much more common (and easier!) than you think. All students need to do is to meet their school’s specific criteria to graduate early.
Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School (PA Virtual) was one of the first cyber schools established in the state and has served thousands of families over the past 20 years. We believe in providing a comprehensive education for each student. This includes personalizing learning for each student and providing social and leadership opportunities through monthly field trips and over 20 online clubs.
Are Pennsylvania’s public cyber charter schools free? That is one of the most pressing and popular questions that we hear every day. In fact, that single question has gripped school districts, local news media outlets, countless school advocacy organizations, and has extended all the way to the hallowed halls of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly.
Traditional brick and mortar schools have long been the standard in education in the United States. The introduction of school choice along with the increase in popularity of charter schools and homeschooling has caused district schools to reevaluate their teaching methodology. The continued impact and implications of school choice only further the idea that different schooling options work for different learners. Having a variety of choices to meet the various needs of learners can only serve to positively impact educational paradigms overall.
Micaela Hoadley is a 2016 graduate of PA Virtual. Since graduation, she has been attending Bloomsburg University with a major in anthropology and a minor in biology. We recently caught up with Micaela and learned a little bit about what she has been up to since graduating high school, how PA Virtual prepared her for college, and what advice she has for this year’s graduating seniors.
It’s 2019, and many parents are looking in a new direction for the education of their children - schooling from home. Homeschooling is a home-based education program created by the parent, and in the past, consisted of a parent creating and executing lessons for their child at home. When it comes to home education, technology has created a new opportunity- for online schools to better cultivate and support both students and parents.
Looking for some extra help outside of the classroom for your child? Don’t want your child’s learning to become stagnant? There’s an app for that. Here are a few apps that can help support your child in History and Science this school year.
Looking for some extra help outside of the classroom for your child? Don’t want your child’s learning to become stagnant? There’s an app for that. Here are a few apps that can help support your child in Math & English/Language Arts this school year.
At PA Virtual, we offer both asynchronous and synchronous learning models for our students based on their academic performance, learning style, and need for academic support and socialization. So, what exactly does that mean and how are they different?
For families who are just beginning homeschooling or cyber schooling their children it can be a little intimidating to figure out how to get started. One of the pieces of advice we hear most often from experienced families is that it helps to set up a specific area where school “happens.” Keep in mind that an elaborate space is not necessary. The school area can be as simple as the kitchen table or a section of the living room.
Cyber charter schools have been widely criticized for poor performance on standardized testing. These scores only tell part of the story. Cyber charter schools enroll many students who have under-performed (in terms of grade level expectations) at their previous schools. Cyber charter schools must catch these students up to help them meet grade level expectations. Because cyber charter schools are a school of choice, the cyber charter student population is more transient in nature than our traditional brick-and-mortar counterparts. Many families may enroll their child for a brief time and then withdraw to enroll their child in a different school. This can happen for a number of reasons.
A deeper look into the nationally recognized curriculum used by PA Virtual PA Virtual challenges students each day in a flexible online learning environment from the comfort of their own homes. How does a school connect students from across the state and ensure their academic needs are met? Our state-certified teachers guide students through their studies using the nationally recognized K12, Inc. curriculum that aligns with the PA Core Standards set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Kyra Smith-Cullen graduated from PA Virtual in 2011. During her time at PA Virtual, she was involved in various organizations including helping set up the school’s first yearbook as well as helping to organize the school’s first prom. After graduation, Kyra attended Lock Haven University where she received her BA in journalism. We recently caught up with Kyra and learned a little more about what she has been up to since PA Virtual and what advice she has for current students.
Each January, we celebrate National School Choice Week (NSCW), a time for traditional public schools; cyber charter schools; brick and mortar charter schools; home school groups; and private, independent, and parochial schools to come together in support of the school choice movement. The upcoming National School Choice Week will be celebrated January 20-26, 2019.
Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Little, recently received the announcement of being nominated for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year 2020 in October of this year. Mrs. Little (previously Ms. Housam) began teaching at PA Virtual Charter School in 2014. This is her fourth year at PA Virtual teaching Kindergarten. Mrs. Little has used a collaborative approach across groups and uses theme based learning to relate content to daily life. When Mrs. Little was asked what it means to be nominated, she replied that she was pleasantly surprised, “See, I always had this growth mindset. I have always wanted to improve my teaching. It seems like possibly the reflection of lessons and listening to the students’ needs really has paid off.” We interviewed Mrs. Little to find out more about what motivated her to become a teacher and why she enjoys teaching at a virtual school. Read her answers below!
First grade teacher, Katie Barnett, recently received the announcement from the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year that she was nominated for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year in 2020. Barnett began teaching at PA Virtual in 2006 and this is her 13th school year here. When Katie, or as her students call her, Mrs. Barnett, was asked what it means to be nominated she replied that she was flattered, “but it just makes me want to work harder for my students. There are so many fantastic educators out there and so many wonderful modes of teaching. I want to continue to improve myself, my knowledge, and ultimately the educational experience I am able to give my students.” We interviewed Mrs. Barnett to find out more about what motivated her to become a teacher and why she enjoys teaching at a virtual school. Read her answers below!
For the first time in PA Virtual’s history, we have hired one of our alumni as a teacher! Former student Sigrid Gulbis was hired this past summer as a High School Math Academic Support Teacher. Ms. Gulbis entered the first grade during PA Virtual’s second year in business and graduated four years ago. This past May, Gulbis graduated Summa Cum Laude from DeSales University with a bachelor’s of science in math. “It’s interesting to see many teachers who instructed me are still at the school and now are my coworkers,” Gulbis said.
Bullying is no longer limited to children pushing and shoving on the playground where they can easily be caught and disciplined. It happens behind screens and on social media platforms, many of which parents don’t even know exist.
Did you know? Nationwide, school staff and parents are in a heightened state of concern due to the growing number of students involved in bullying. But, only 1 in 10 students who are bullied will inform a parent or trusted adult of the problem. October is National Bullying Prevention Month, so we have prepared a two-part blog series to help parents learn more about bullying. The series will help you recognize signs your child may be experiencing bullying, and give you tools to help your child resolve an issue with bullying, and offer tips for preventing bullying.
During the 2018-2019 school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is introducing a new school assessment tool, the Future Ready Index. This new tool is designed to take a more comprehensive look at individual students; assessing their unique needs and abilities, measuring their year over year growth, and determining if schools are truly preparing Pennsylvania’s students for long term success. While in the past, great schools were measured almost exclusively by standardized test scores, the new Future Ready Index will take multiple criteria into consideration including how a student performs over several years as well as whether a school is providing opportunities for exploring career pathways and college options.
Vincent Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” This advice is particularly useful as we transition out of the summer and back into school. While the transition is major for some families, and routine for others, we all need to adjust to some degree. Fortunately, it’s the small things that matter most in making that adjustment. In this blog, we draw upon the experiences of several PA Virtual parents to provide tips that will help families ease back into the school year.
Share: Cooking and baking are great ways to incorporate math, reading comprehension, and following directions into a fun activity! Over the summer, one PA Virtual parent challenged her children to help come up with breakfast and dinner ideas for the family. Seventh grader, Sarah Hallberg, shares her experience and her great-grandmother's 'famous' sticky bun recipe! Make sure to read to the end to get the recipe!
Facebook recently updated their news feed algorithm to prioritize posts from family, friends, and groups. You may have already noticed the changes - more posts in your news feed from your Facebook friends but less posts from the media and other sources you've "liked" (i.e, Buzzfeed, CNN, etc).
January is nearly synonymous with fresh starts. It seems to be the perfect time to evaluate, plan, and improve. As parents, many of us like to take a close look at our school day during this time of year and do just that before starting into the second semester. Sometimes, very simple changes can go a long way to making the school day smoother and more productive. One great place to start is to consider the morning routine, because that really sets the tone for the whole school day. If you don’t already have a morning routine that seems to be working well for your family, consider the following ideas to get your school mornings started on the right foot:
As temperatures begin to drop and winter approaches, your children will begin to spend more time indoors. To limit screen time this winter season, encourage your children to read more. Of course, this is easier said than done. Below are some tips on how to get your kids to read more during the winter and into the New Year.
Bullying is no longer limited to children pushing and shoving on the playground where they can easily be caught and disciplined. It happens behind screens and on social media platforms, many of which parents don’t even know exist. October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In the second part of this blog series, we take a look at some of the warning signs parents can look for if they suspect their child might be bullying others.
As families in Pennsylvania close their pools for the off-season, many students won’t even think of swimming until the weather turns warm again. For PA Virtual junior, Matthew Bonnell, he doesn’t ever stop. Matthew swims competitively and is in the pool 6-7 days a week for practices. No matter the weather, his competitive forte is open water swimming – meaning lakes, rivers and even the ocean. Two-a-day practices keep him in the water for about four hours a day, and his workout regimen also includes other conditioning and strength training. As a junior in high school, how does Matthew balance his demanding training with school? By attending PA Virtual Charter School, Matt has the flexibility to complete his studies whenever and wherever he can.
Did you know? Only 1 in 10 students who are bullied will inform a parent or trusted adult of the problem. October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In acknowledgement of this, we have prepared a two-part blog series that examines the hidden signs a child may be experiencing bullying online AND warning signs a child may be bullying others. Bullying and cyber bullying take many forms. PA Virtual teachers go to great lengths to monitor classroom communication on our online platform to make sure that all students are treating one another with respect and interacting in a positive manner. However, away from the school computer, there are a number of other communication and social platforms that young teens use almost every day. Social media platforms, such as Snapchat and Instagram, and even video games have become a common way for teens to bully others. When parents become aware of bullying incidents on social networking sites, it is important to have the right tools and know what steps to take to combat the problem.
What is it like teaching in a cyber school? What can students expect as they settle into the school year? PA Virtual teacher, Ms. Lisa Steen, shares some of the behind the scenes action that takes place at cyber schools and gives advice for students who want to start the school year strong! Ms. Steen has been an elementary classroom teacher at PA Virtual since the school opened. She has taught all grades (K-5) and this year is excited to work with our Kindergarten students. How do cyber school teachers spend their day? A teacher’s job is never done! Ms. Steen and other PA Virtual teachers do complete tasks similar to teachers at a brick and mortar school, such as data entry, lesson planning, grading and attending meetings, but there are also lots of differences. First – they don’t have to drive to class! Many PA Virtual teachers have an office set up in their own home, just as students have a designated “school” space. Here, they sign into their computer, load lessons for the day and engage with students and families during live lessons or remediation classes. The flexibility of cyber school often allows teachers to individualize lessons based on the needs of students.
Sawyer Wright of Pittsburgh is headed into 4th grade at PA Virtual this Fall and has been bitten by the robot bug. His love of creation and competition led the Wright family on a trip to Gastonia, North Carolina this June to compete in the Clash of Bots 2017, held at The Scheile Museum of Natural History. Sawyer and his robot, MUGGA JUNK, were prepared to battle, not knowing he was going to be one of the youngest competitors in the ring. Sawyer was the only competitor under the age of 18 at the event.
As the last few weeks of summer approach, families are trying to squeeze in every bit of fun they can. Trips to the amusement park, movies, and beaches can get expensive. Here is a list of 10 free or low-cost activities you can do with your family in the Philly-area, which are not only fun and kid friendly, but budget friendly too!
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.
Daniel 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.
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.
Mrs. 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!
Less than two weeks after graduating high school, Class of 2017 graduate, Ivan Lodnia has been drafted by the Minnesota Wild! The 2017 NHL draft was held at the United Center, home of the Chicago Blackhawks. Ivan and his family spent last weekend in the Windy City. Going into the draft, Ivan was ranked 37th among North American skaters and it was anticipated he would go sometime in the second or third round. Ivan spent the last two seasons playing right wing for 2017 OHL Champions, the Erie Otters. The Otters were the number one overall seed going into the 2017 playoffs, and defeated the Sarnia Sting, London Knights, Owen Sound Attack and Mississauga Steelheads to claim the J. Ross Robertson Cup. Ivan enrolled in PA Virtual during his junior year, but has been cyber schooled since 8th grade. The flexible schedule allowed Ivan to balance school and classes, between the Otters practices, road games, and a hectic playoff schedule.
The 2017 school year just came to a close and for one student, it means the era of a new adventure!
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's (CLP) Summer Reading Extravaganza is one of the best ways we know to kick of summer reading! This annual outdoor festival offers music (we love Timbeleza!), crafts, games, storytelling, food trucks, and most importantly the opportunity to enroll in a summer reading program. This year PA Virtual gave participants the chance to express their creativity by making magic scratch bookmarks, which they can use all summer as they read their favorite books. According to Story Pockets, the official blog for Children’s Services at CLP, "participating in a summer reading program can help kids and teens retain the literacy skills they have gained during the school year. Studies have shown that when kids and teens read during the summer, they are more likely to succeed when the new school year begins. Summer slide, or summer learning loss, can be challenged by reading books and engaging in out-of-school learning opportunities."
Organized by Mrs. Willits and Mrs. Burke, the first ever school wide virtual fair highlighted some key concepts and projects students studied throughout the 2016-2017 school year. Most science fairs take place in crowded gyms or classrooms, but in a virtual school, these teachers were faced with the challenge of bringing everyone together in a unique way - in a virtual classroom!
Last Friday, members of the Class of 2017 shared their post-graduate plans with teachers, staff, and younger students. Our graduates shared a variety of plans including vocational school, two-and-four year colleges and universities, and even military service.
Congratulations to Katie Barnett and Christy (Ansell) Kotwica who are heading to New Orleans this summer after being selected to present at the BbWorld17 Conference!
While most kids used their spring break to relax, catch up on sleep, or maybe go on vacation, I was up every day at 7:30 a.m. getting ready for college tours. From April 14th to April 21st, my dad, mom, and I went on college tours throughout Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. My mom and I scheduled tours for almost all of the colleges we visited so we had a set schedule of where we were going to be and when. I would HIGHLY recommend scheduling the school tour on their website. Often there were as many as 50 students, plus their parents on my tours; and colleges often set a limit of students per tour so you don’t want to be disappointed that you can’t tour the school after traveling there because you didn’t make an appointment. It was really a huge help to schedule visits with the schools not only so we had a set schedule, but also so we had an actual student showing us the ins and outs of the campus. I was able to ask any questions I had and get a truthful answer from someone who is actually attending that school. The schools were also very great about giving me the option to attend live classes and even go to lunch with a student!
National Robotics Week is April 8-16! While PA Virtual does not have a dedicated robotics club, several students from the school are involved in the highly competitive and successful 4-H Robotics Club of Franklin County. Team 4050 Biohazard recently competed in Cleveland at the FIRST Robotics Buckeye Regional Competition.
Congratulations to three PA Virtual Students whose creative talent has been recognized by the 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards! Nationally, the Arts & Writing Awards receive about 300,000 submissions, and this year over 1,000 students submitted their original work.
Enrolling your child in Kindergarten is one of the most fun and exciting times in a parent’s life. There are more options than ever for children – if you are considering cyber education, PA Virtual Charter School is an excellent option.
Your voice is how you engage with the world. So what happens when a person loses the ability to speak? With technological advances, people with vocal disabilities are able to use assistive devices to communicate. Many times these devices use a voice that can sound robot-like. One company has set out to humanize these narrations, and PA Virtual Charter School students and staff have joined this innovative new project. Over the holiday break this past December, the school challenged students to join the VocaliD project. The VocalID platform creates unique vocal identities using “donations” from real people to give its recipients a human sounding voice. To join, students created accounts and began to dictate sounds and words through the VocaliD online platform called BeSpoke. VocaliD then processes these noises and words into a Human Voicebank – like a blood bank, for those in need. The complexity of creating a unique voice requires 7-8 hours of soundbites in an effort to fully digitize a human voice.
Susan Wilson enrolled her son at PA Virtual Charter School almost seven years ago. Johnny, now in 6th grade, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC) as a toddler. Children who suffer from this type of colitis, find it difficult to keep a regular schedule – a huge concern when looking into traditional brick and mortar schools in the area. The family began to research other options and on the recommendation of a friend, began to look into PA Virtual.
After deciding she wanted to focus on a competitive tennis career beyond the high school level, Julia Darkey, a former student in the Manheim Township School District, has found a great balance by enrolling at PA Virtual. “In Lancaster County the idea of homeschooling is very common, but not so much cyber school,” said Renee Darkey, Julia’s mother. “We knew another local family through tennis who had a great experience with PA Virtual and knew it was the right place for Julia.” Each year, the media reports stories of cyber students who face challenges when trying to attend their local proms, homecoming or take part in district activities- a practice that is illegal per charter law - because they are not considered “district students.” The Darkey family, however, has never experienced this with MTHS. Coaches and the administration have since gone above and beyond to make sure that Julia is always included in school team activities, despite the fact that she isn’t present in the same classrooms as her teammates during the day.
Parents - what do you do when you start to realize that your child is not only incredibly talented, but is one of the best?
Join us in our 2nd Annual PA Virtual Pride Art Contest! School Choice Week is January 22-28. One of the ways PA Virtual celebrates is through our annual art contest! All PA Virtual students are invited to submit a photo of one original (new) artwork that shows off their PA Virtual Pride.
What does a "typical day" look like for a pa high school cyber student? We asked to hear from our students, in their own words. Here is ninth grader, Javier Pitre's honest and comedic narrative of what a "typical" day in school looks like for him.
When you sit down to make resolutions this New Year, consider the option of school choice, and see if cyber school is a good fit for your family! This year, you can make a positive change in your child's education and watch them flourish with PA Virtual. This year, does your family want to make a resolution to…
What really happened to the dinosaurs 65 million years ago? One PA Virtual family headed to Rowan University’s Fossil Park earlier this month to find out! Dinosaur lover and PA Virtual 7th grader Joshua Griffith and his family spent the day at the fossil park learning about the importance of this particular fossil pit and digging into layers of earth that were formed during the Jurassic period. Eventually Josh found a shark tooth, piece of turtle shell, pieces of sponges and a piece of bone. Of course, we know sharks don’t live in New Jersey, but millions of years ago, part of Southern New Jersey was a shallow sea making sea animals fairly common to find among other fossils.
In the cyber setting, we know our Learning Coaches go above and beyond each day to be a part of their child’s educational journey. At PA Virtual, we know that when parents are engaged and supportive of what their child is learning, the child is more likely to succeed. However, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is enough to distract even the most attentive family. How can you keep students focused as the holidays approach this year?
Each month PA Virtual hosts a number of outings across the state for students and families to encourage socialization and provide support. PA Virtual is proud to partner with local community service and outreach organizations throughout Pennsylvania, teaching students that they really can make a difference in their community.
After moving to Philadelphia from Florida, Keith and Tracy Bunn took a good look at the educational options in their new home town. Feeling discouraged, they started to look into alternatives and found PA Virtual. The flexibility of cyber school appealed to the family. Triplets Keith, Kameryn and Kayla were enrolled as first grade students and have been with PA Virtual ever since. Older brother Tyler is also a student, all four learning crucial time management skills to balance school with time honing their tennis skills. Often times, Keith Sr. gets the kids up and started on school work early, giving them extra free time on the courts in the afternoons, in addition to the coaching they receive at Legacy Youth Tennis and Education.
The 2016 Election has certainly been one that will go down in history, regardless of the outcome. While we can’t predict who will win, we wanted to make sure that our students and families know how important it is to have your voice heard! At PA Virtual, we are always encouraging our students to give back to their communities – there is no better way to give back, than to vote. Many people think that their vote can’t make a difference, but especially at the local and state levels, one vote may be all you need to have your candidate pull through.
Kim McGuckin of Bucks County has always stressed to her children how important it is to give back to the community. Kim and her two sons Peirce and Conor have been volunteering with The Breathing Room Foundation for over a decade. The Breathing Room provides support and care to families facing cancer in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties.
Bullying is no longer limited to children pushing and shoving on the playground where a teacher can easily see and discipline the offender – it frequently happens behind screens and through social media and online platforms. In July of 2015, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf passed HB229 – a measure that made it illegal to bully a child in the state through electronic communications. Adults and juveniles alike can now face criminal charges if caught in the act of cyber bullying a child. Here at PA Virtual, we have many students who chose cyber education to escape bullying, so we take every measure to eradicate bullying in our community.
Fall is in the air, and the seasons are changing! PA Virtual celebrated going back to school this September by bringing together hundreds of students over the past few weeks at almost 20 locations statewide. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, PA Virtual Family Support Coordinators (FSCs) are excited for the new school year. While September’s events were all about fun and casual picnics, PA Virtual FSCs organize monthly events for local students, parents, teachers and staff to get together and socialize. Interactive games and other arts & crafts gave students in attendance the opportunity to get credit for 75 minutes of Language Arts and 75 minutes of PE for the day.
Parents and students choose cyber charter schools for many different reasons but one of the most widely known is flexibility. One student in particular, Isabella Uber, chose PA Virtual for just that reason. After her parents split, they considered both local school districts, and Isabella began to look into cyber school. After extensive research, she chose PA Virtual four years ago, and hasn’t looked back! “I love that I don’t have to worry about getting behind academically because of what house I’m in or what parent I am with,” said Isabella. “I can log on from anywhere, get my work done, and still spend quality time with my family.”
National Kids Take over the Kitchen Day is September 13! Cyber school families have an added responsibility that most may not think about - your kitchen is the cafeteria! Day after day of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can get old, but balancing healthy and cost saving meals can be tough for families. Let your students take over the kitchen with some of these fun meal and snack ideas on September 13 or all year round!
Did you know that nationally, as many as 7.5 million students miss 10 percent of school days in excused and unexcused absences every year? That’s 135 million days of school. As you know, a single missed school day is one a student never gets back. Each time a student misses a day of school, the entire class is affected. Good attendance is important at every grade level. It is important to instill this in children at the elementary level. In our community of partnership, learning and achievement, we work together to make sure all students can reach their academic goals and that begins with daily attendance.
Fall is fast approaching and we are excited to welcome all new and returning students back to PA Virtual. How can parents help make sure students are as prepared as possible and set up for success this school year? Here are a few tips and tricks! Establish a work space and schedule for your student: Cyber school can be flexible, but the most successful students establish a schedule and stick to it. Balancing live classes with homework and community, or extracurricular activities takes time, but you can do it! Designating a space where your student can work free of distractions will also help them focus and get back into school mode.
When her son was ready to start Kindergarten, Jen Brodhag knew she wanted to find a place where she could give her children a structured curriculum in the comfort of her own home. Critics of cyber education are often teachers who don’t think that the classroom setting can be mimicked in the home. As a former third grade teacher, when Jen learned about PA Virtual she thought otherwise. In addition to an engaging curriculum, she loved how PA Virtual had accountability and support systems of a traditional public school, but she would also have the ability to share learning experiences with her children in her home.
This summer PA Virtual announced that Dr. John Chandler, a veteran of cyber charter education, would be joining the PA Virtual team as our new Chief Executive Officer. Lifelong educator and outgoing CEO, Dr. Joanne Barnett announced her retirement plans earlier this year. Under her leadership, PA Virtual has continually been one of the top ranked cyber schools in the state.
Kyra Smith-Cullen is a PA Virtual graduate from the Class of 2011. She attended Lock Haven University to study Journalism and currently works as a copy editor for the Daily Item. In the following article that was published in the Daily Item, Kyra shares and dispels some of the arguments that are made against cyber charter schools. Thank you Kyra for sharing your story! “In Defense of Cyber Schools” Kyra Smith-Cullen On June 10, I watched my youngest sister, Dimitria, graduate in a ceremony similar to my own. The principal made the same joke. Names were drowned out by families’ cheers — and an air horn. And, like me, she had never met most of the people she was graduating with.
In the heat of the summer, it can be difficult to motivate youngsters to leave the air conditioned bubble in the living room and even harder to encourage them to take part in activities where they can stimulate their minds. Studies have shown that students can lose up to one month of skills and knowledge learned during the school year over the summer. Here are a few more tips on how to stop the dreaded summer brain drain:
Each fall teachers work with students who have fallen ill with the dreaded summer “brain drain”. Symptoms include learning loss, forgetting math formulas, and even a decrease in vocabulary. For some, it may seem as if lessons students learned during the school year have melted away in the summer heat and out with the ocean tides! Parents: how can you help avoid the brain drain this summer? Use these tips to help your child stay on track to start the school year happy and healthy:
Annetta Hartman graduated from PA Virtual in 2013. She is a senior at Penn State majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Business Administration. We recently caught up with Annetta and she provided us with some insight into her college experience and also gave advice to PA Virtual seniors. Annetta will be one of the commencement speakers at Graduation this Friday, June 10.
There is still a week left of Keystone testing. Despite strange myths that exist, cyber school students DO take standardized state assessments just like every other school. Many PA cyber schools use resource centers or rent facilities to administer the tests in the same window as other students in the state. This year, Keystones are administered between May 16 – 27. Looking for a way to beat the test? Check out these 7 testing hacks below!
For most high schools, Prom is less than a month away. Many seniors have already picked their dates and their outfits, and are anxiously awaiting this special event. For those of you who haven’t gotten everything quite worked out yet- we got you covered!
Did you know about 72% of PA Virtual students continue their education in some way after graduation? Students preparing to enroll in college should take the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT or ACT before graduation. In 2016, some major changes were implemented to the SAT assessment. From here on out, here are a few things students should be prepared for when signing up to take the SAT:
Katrina Lynn Whetsel Katrina Lynn Whetsel graduated from PA Virtual in 2009 and capped off her educational experience by singing at graduation which was held at Hidden Valley Resort in Hidden Valley, PA. Katrina began her music career at 14 like most other vocalists – by singing her favorite cover songs. Cyber school gave her the flexibility to spend time in the studio while also finishing high school. After graduating from PA Virtual, Katrina went to The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and received her BA in digital design. One of the best aspects about a cyber education according to Katrina was the how she learned independence and personal responsibility. She found her teachers always went above and beyond to give students the tools and guidance needed to prepare for college. We caught up with Katrina and asked her a few questions about how life has been since PA Virtual and what advice she has for current students!
An Essay by Elias Harkins, Class of 2013 When I graduated from PA Virtual in 2013, most people called me Eli, or if they wanted to use my full first name, Elias. This year, though, I found that I have a completely different name unknown to my parents or me. To learn this new name, I had to travel 5,000 miles from my hometown of Hershey to the wonderfully welcoming African country of Ghana. I should first begin with what brought me to Ghana. After graduating from PA Virtual in 2013, I became a student at Messiah College, a small liberal arts college in Grantham, PA. There I am a junior in the biopsychology program, a major that combines several of my favorite topics, which are the sciences of biology and psychology. It also utilizes my love for the way diverse topics can be brought into synthesis. The field of biopsychology fundamentally delves into how our biology can impact our psychology and vice versa.
Ninth grader, Robert Putnick wrote a “Thank You” letter to his math teacher Jennifer Burke and submitted it to the “My Favorite Teacher Contest” hosted by Barnes & Noble. Participants in the contest will have the opportunity to read their essays at celebrations at their local Barnes & Noble store. Mrs. Burke has been with PA Virtual for nine years and teaches Algebra, Biology, and Geometry. You can read Robert’s letter to Mrs. Burke below.