PA Virtual Journeys: From Cyber Charter Student to Alum to Parent
What's it like to graduate from a cyber charter school, begin a career or family, and then become a Learning Coach for your child at your alma mater? We recently sat down with Faith '11, a busy mother of two boys, to discover why she chose to have her oldest son attend here.
For Faith, a Class of 2011 graduate, PA Virtual is a way of life.
She joined the community in elementary school, and remained here until she completed high school. Faith, who provides transportation services for her school district, enrolled her son Jackson in kindergarten earlier this year.
Faith appreciates the immense amount of flexibility that PA Virtual provides. Being able to complete her assignments on her schedule, as well as not having to go through the typical 'race to the school building' routine, meant that she was free to work at her own pace.
The benefits of this model became all the more clear when Faith lost her grandfather — but was able to join him for his last few days. “We had the flexibility to take our schoolwork with us, and complete it when we were in Ohio at his bedside,” she recalls. It was an opportunity to find closure with family, one that would have been more difficult in a brick-and-mortar model.
Faith most clearly remembers the teachers who made a difference in her life, as well as the socialization aspects of her time here. “Whenever I had problems or struggles, any time I contacted a teacher, they were willing to help me out with anything,” she notes. Faith recalls one particular algebra teacher who made mathematics wholly enjoyable, and was ready and willing to help walk Faith through algebraic concepts when she needed extra help.
Her favorite memories, however, focus on the many clubs that she participated in. From Yearbook Club to Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), Faith took advantage of these opportunities to learn and converse with fellow students. “I really enjoyed being able to interact with other classmates in those different forums,” she says, recalling the skits and online activities that SADD showcased for the school.
So when it came time to enroll Jackson in kindergarten, Faith didn’t hesitate to apply to PA Virtual. “I had a lot of experience coming as a student that I used to help my five-year-old make this transition,” she notes, citing that, although there were some new programs to learn, much of the experience was similar to her time here.
Such familiarity eased many of the concerns that parents often face when choosing a school for their child. In Faith’s case, her family also had concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on local school districts. A cyber charter model, then, offered the education Jackson needed, with the virtual experts he deserved.
And although Jackson is still in his first year at PA Virtual, Faith has already witnessed growth and flourishing. “I personally see some of the things that they [students at a public brick-and-mortar] are sent home with, and my kid is doing things that a second or third grader is doing — and he’s in kindergarten!” While such a traditional in-person model is equally important to the educational system, and is a great fit for some students, Faith notes that students who need more individualized experiences benefit from a cyber charter school. “There’s more flexibility to get work done, so if your student is having a hard time on a subject, you can take the time to work with them on that, more than you could if they were in a brick-and-mortar school,” she adds.
Faith also rightly points out that young children have a lot of energy, and being in a physical classroom all day is a challenge for some of them. “My son is a five-year-old, rambunctious little boy,” she declares, noting that, for particularly energetic students, a cyber charter model may be a better fit.
So what does this former student, graduate, and Learning Coach have to say to parents who are new to the cyber charter model, or considering PA Virtual? “Reminders, reminders, reminders!” Faith recommends. “Schedule everything. Have reminders for when stuff is due. When you’re a busy mom and you’re working, and you also have a five-month-old, you need those reminders of when stuff is due.” She also highlights the importance of printing out assignments sheets and scheduling recurring events, such as students needing to finish enrichment lessons in the IXL Learning platform.
Ultimately, every parent wants their child’s educational experience to center on two important concepts: individualized learning (as much as possible), and preparation for life after graduation. For Faith, the PA Virtual experience offered both — and now, Jackson can reap the benefits of cyber charter learning. “I see that he’s getting a much better education at home, and he’s also getting that one-on-one time that I know he needs.”
Thank you, Faith, for sharing your experience, and we’re so excited to welcome you as a cyber parent here on your son’s academic journey!
If you are a PA Virtual graduate and want to share what you've been up to since graduating, fill out our Alumni Directory, and we might contact you to be featured in an upcoming alumni piece.
Want to learn more about PA Virtual? You can request more information here.
Photo credits to marvelmozhko on Pixabay, and Faith Taylor.