Why We Chose PA Virtual: The Dingeldein Family
I attended PA Virtual for thirteen years. People sometimes ask me why my family chose cyber school, or why we stayed when I could have gone to a public or private school. Today, I thought I’d tell you the story of how the Dingeldein’s found Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School.
How We Found PA Virtual
My family chose cyber school initially because my parents were looking for a great education option. Mom did a lot of research to figure out where I should start. Schools were not really advertising in 2005, so by default, I would have attended our local public elementary school. Even though we lived about five minutes from the school, I would have been first-on and last-off of the bus, making my school day very long.
One day, she heard about cyber school and the K12 curriculum on the radio. Not long after, Mom discovered that PA Virtual was hosting an Open House at a local hotel, and I went along with her. Mom saw the curriculum and its excellent ratings. I played with the curriculum, because it was fun and colorful. We even met some of the teachers at the Open House.
Mom and Dad agreed that this school seemed like a good place for me to start. It was kind of funny, because Mom had told Dad before I was born that she didn’t feel qualified to homeschool and she wasn’t going to homeschool their kids. Cyber school, in a way, was like homeschool. But Mom felt more confident with this model because she knew she wouldn’t be working alone to teach me. She would have a team of teachers and staff to support her along the way.
I don’t know who my teacher was initially supposed to be, but it got switched around right before I started school. One of the teachers we met at the Open House—Mrs. Moore—was a Kindergarten teacher, and she lived near us! She told the administrators that she had to be my teacher, because we’d already taken a picture together! I was lucky enough to have her as my teacher for five years at PA Virtual.
Every year, we sat down together as a family to evaluate our experience with PA Virtual. We wanted to make sure I was still being challenged: that this was still a good option for us. We talked over pros and cons, likes and dislikes, and other potential options for me. Eventually, I told Mom that we didn’t need to have those conversations anymore. I loved PA Virtual and I’d let them know if I wanted to make a change.
And it’s true: I do love PA Virtual!
Reflecting Back on My Years at PA Virtual
It was great to be schooling at home for my formative years. I spent a lot of time with my mom, which helped me to grow as a person. In middle school, I became best friends with a new neighbor who was also a PA Virtual student. Since I was at home, I learned to cook, became an expert at laundry, and played in the backyard during breaks throughout the day. Plus, I even got to wear pajamas on Fridays.
I had amazing teachers, who I still vividly remember. We did math with candy. We made digital posters about the books we read. We got called on by numbered ping pong balls. We made action figures from history. I learned to love learning.
I also loved going to outings. There were lots of families in my county, so I got to grow up with some of the same kids at outings. We went to the roller rink a lot, which was so much fun! I also remember going to Gettysburg to learn about the Civil War and experience life in the past. We had picnics at a nearby parks, too.
My favorite outing of all, though, was something called "Fun Day." We met at a local church, which is also where the mandated state testing took place in our area, to just simply have fun for a day. I remember pretending to bobsled race with blankets across a gym floor, playing “Heads Up Seven Up,” and learning drumbeats with the music teacher.
Why I’m Proud
I am so proud to have attended a quality cyber charter school like PA Virtual. Online school prepared me so well for college and for life. It shaped me academically to succeed as a student. My teachers made a difference in my life. At PA Virtual, I got the unique experience to have so many people advocating for me: my parents, my teachers, and myself. My mom and I got to spend all my growing up years together. The flexibility allowed me to have very formative experiences that brick-and-mortar school schedules simply do not allow for.
PA Virtual was a great fit for me and for my family. School choice is important, because cyber school may not be the best option for everyone, but it is the best for some. The same can be said of every educational option out there.
As a student who was taught online successfully, by teachers who were trained to and loved teaching online, I am living proof that you can be taught online. I am evidence that cyber school is an incredible opportunity for some students. And really, isn’t education about preparing unique individuals for the future in the best ways we can?
Check out a photo of me and Mrs. Betzenberger when I was in middle school...
And another of us at my graduation!
If you're interested in learning more about PA Virtual and if it would be a good fit for your family, you can request more information here.
About the Author: Alexis Dingeldein attended PA Virtual for all of grade school and graduated in 2017. During her time at PA Virtual, she wrote and self-published six novels. She is currently at Geneva College studying business and writing.