Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, PA Cyber has proven that not only does the learning never stop, but the teaching never stops; the caring for one another never stops; and fundamentally, PA Cyber never stops. Quarantine-related consequences continue to have profound impacts on traditional brick and mortar schools. The shift to online learning can be difficult for everyone involved. For a number of reasons, students tend to thrive in PA Cyber’s charter school setting.
Similar to traditional public schools, parental support and family involvement remain necessary for any student’s academic success. Coupled with engaging teachers and support staff, PA Cyber’s innovative learning model allows faculty members to use a variety of strategies and robust, evolving curricula to create an individualized education program designed to enrich the online learning experience.
Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains an active network of nine regional offices throughout Pennsylvania. As a public school, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School is open for enrollment to any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and does not charge tuition to students or families. After two decades of serving and educating students from kindergarten through 12th grade, the class of 2021 will be PA Cyber’s 20th graduating class.
“PA Cyber’s online learning environments, personalized instructional methods and choices of curricula connect more than 10,000 Pennsylvania students and their families with highly qualified, state-certified teachers,” says Chief Executive Officer Brian Hayden. “Featuring rich academic content (fully aligned with PA state standards), PA Cyber stands proud of the quality educational opportunities provided to our growing and diverse student population.”
More Than Just Cyber
In addition to its robust online offerings, PA Cyber has established nine office locations throughout Pennsylvania offering resources and support for PA students and families. “Our regional offices present family and student-centered activities and programs designed to enrich, enhance, and extend the learning experience,” says Hayden. Activities include:
1. Orientation Sessions: Orientations are designed to give students and parents the information, training, and support for a strong and successful start at PA Cyber. Topics include proper set up of equipment, accessing curriculum, navigating courses, and completing and submitting assignments. Students and families can schedule an onsite orientation session at any of PA Cyber’s regional office locations by contacting their academic adviser.
2. Academic Enrichment: Throughout the school year, each of PA Cyber’s regional offices presents a variety of enrichment opportunities. These activities include guidance workshops, career exploration opportunities, STEM programs, book fairs and more. These activities serve as an engaging way for students to dig deeper into their learning and personal interests while also connecting and collaborating with teachers and peers.
3. ArtReach: A joint project with the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center, ArtReach presents classes and other experiences in the creative and performing arts to PA Cyber students. These include both online and in-person workshops, classes, seminars, performances, and other special presentations in music, theatre, dance, creative writing and the visual arts.
4. Social Activities: Learning is a social activity that depends upon both personal and civic engagement. PA Cyber students and families are part of a true community of learning and are invited to participate in a variety of activities intended to forge local, regional, and even statewide connections. These include field trips, movie days, arts and crafts, board games, seasonal parties, open houses and so much more.
The Typical Student Does Not Exist
PA Cyber offers a modern curriculum balancing fine and performing arts with a wealth of other programs, such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) courses. Through the Writing Lab teachers provides interactive feedback to help students understand specific areas for improvement while heightening the students’ confidence. The PA Cyber library, which is always open, includes e-books, videos, guides, and physical resources. In addition, there are chapters of National Junior Honor Society and National Honor Society as well as other clubs that fulfill a variety of specific interests.
PA Cyber’s Family Link is an outreach program that offers families the chance to connect through field trips and local parent-planned activities. These events broaden and enrich the cyber school experience by creating an important social network for PA Cyber students and their families.
“Students enjoy opportunities to spend time with classmates who share their interests. Parents gain the chance to talk and share ideas with other parents who respect and understand their educational choice,” says Hayden. “Family Link members are also given opt-in access to a secure, online directory of other members’ names, PA Cyber email addresses, grade levels and geographic regions.” This unique directory helps families connect and communicate with others to foster support, enhance learning and create lasting friendships.
A Future Full of History to be Made
The first PA Cyber graduating class in 2001 boasted just 16 students. However, two decades later, there have been more than 12,000 proud PA Cyber graduates. The Class of 2020 had more than 1,200 graduates receiving their very own PA Cyber diplomas at the school’s very first virtual graduation. So much has changed since that first class in 2000, with so much more to come.
“PA Cyber has grown and matured with its students becoming one of the largest, most experienced and successful online public schools in the nation,” says Hayden. “In fact, it could be the perfect environment for your children to blossom.”
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