Meet John – Cyber Charter Student and Competitive Rower

March 10, 2024

John and his family reside in Chester County.

John came to cyber education in 2020 when COVID was emerging and his father’s job meant that quarantines would be likely. He never left. 

A high achiever and gifted learner, John had a GIEP from kindergarten including reading and math acceleration and other enrichment accommodations at his public school. By fifth grade and 10 years old, he was already in algebra and reading at a ninth grade level. COVID restrictions made it difficult to accommodate his education needs. 

John chose to enroll in the University Scholars Program (USP) at the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School (PALCS), a public cyber charter school. He’s never looked back. 

He found the acceleration he needed in classes filled with other high achieving students and educators who were experienced in, and committed to their needs. The teachers were well versed in cyber education and utilized it in creative and innovative ways that allowed for individual and group achievements. The work was rigorous and challenging, while being meaningful and participatory. For the first time in his education, no additional GIEP accommodations were necessary as the classes and instruction met his needs. Extra curricular opportunities for STEM, Junior Model UN, and Mock Trial kept him engaged and motivated. 

By eighth grade, John was enrolled in both high school and middle school classes, seamlessly coordinated by the school, mixing high school level science, math, English, and Spanish, with honors level social studies, plus music and art electives. Classes ranged in size and grades yet all were engaging, age appropriate, and rigorous. 

It was also that year that the demands on John’s time accelerated even more than his courses. His interest in rowing grew from casual to competitive, now taking more than 20 hours a week of his time. By the end of the school year, his team had won silver in the national championships while he remained a straight A student thanks to the flexibility of cyber learning. 

He explored both public and private high school options but realized that none matched what he had. He committed to stay for high school and has never regretted it. 

John is now a 14-year-old ninth grader, balancing his love of learning and rowing and the demands of both. His courses include AP Calculus, AP US History, Honors Chemistry, Honors Physics, Honors World Literature, and High School Spanish 3. He is a member of the National Juniors Honors Society, the Spanish Honors Society, and the Global Scholars Program. His practice PSAT and ACT scores would already rank him above the 95 percentile nationally and he has excelled in his Keystone exams. He’s at the boathouse six days a week, rowing three hours or more a day in the hopes of repeating at the national championships this June. 

He has live classes teamed with independent work that has him well prepared for college learning still more than three years away. While starting to think about college, he has few concerns as he knows that the bonds he has made with his teachers and classmates will be there to support and guide him. 

His only concern is the future of his school as he knows it needs its funding to provide the level of instruction it has for him and his classmates.

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