Celebrating Remarkable Achievements: REACH Cyber Faculty and Family Honored by Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools

Reach Cyber Charter School

PENNSYLVANIA— The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS) named three leaders and one family of Harrisburg-based Reach Cyber Charter School as recipients and finalists for PCPCS’ 2023 Legacy Awards. The annual awards program honors the exceptional contributions and lasting impacts made by individuals and organizations in the public charter education landscape in Pennsylvania.

The honorees were Gail Hawkins Bush, Lifetime Achievement recipient; JD Smith, Rising Leader recipient; and David N. Taylor, Legacy Board Member recipient. Henry and Ronya Balogun, parents of Reach Cyber alum David Balogun, were finalists for the Parents Award.

“Reach Cyber extends heartfelt congratulations to Gail, JD, David and the Baloguns for their well-earned recognition by the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools,” said Jane Swan, CEO of Reach Cyber Charter School. “All of these individuals share a passion that’s contagious for improving young students’ education and lives. Together, they show that it really takes an entire community –educators, administrators, board members, and parents – to make that possible. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with them and look forward to our continued collaboration.”

All award winners were formally honored at the PCPCS Annual Conference today, Oct. 3 at the Wyndham Lancaster Resort and Conference Center.

Gail Hawkins Bush, Lifetime Achievement recipient

Gail Hawkins Bush, a founding board member and current Board Vice President of Reach Cyber, is considered a pioneer in Pennsylvania’s charter sector. She has held teaching, administrative and board positions for a variety of public charters in the state and now brings her expertise to curriculum development, teacher recruitment, parent engagement and community involvement for Reach Cyber. She has served on a long list of committees and has assisted many organizations including the Greater Urban Affairs Children and Youth Committee, the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, the Coalition of 100 Black Women, the National Political Congress of Black Women, the Board of Trustees of Cheyney University and the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

JD Smith, Rising Leader recipient

JD Smith, Director of Career Readiness for Reach Cyber, establishes and leverages partnerships with organizations around the state to build hands-on, career-specific curriculums for K-12 students that connect them to internship and apprenticeship opportunities. He oversees and manages a team of educators, a K-8 Career Exploration Coordinator and Career Experience Managers and Coordinators. Smith also oversees an innovative team of Reach Cyber teachers who coordinate vocational programs in carpentry, veterinary sciences and cosmetology with more in the pipeline. A social worker who has also worked in foster care, Smith dedicates himself to helping students succeed no matter their background or interests.

David N. Taylor, Legacy Board Member recipient

David N. Taylor is a founding board member of Reach Cyber and has served as its Board President since the school’s charter application in 2015. Taylor is as an advocate for students from every corner of the Commonwealth, from gifted students who seek an accelerated track, to competitive athletes and performers, parenting students, students with disabilities or compromised immunities, military children, and others who seek an individualized approach to education and a flexible schedule. Taylor has guided Reach through tremendous growth since its founding, helping the school grow from 16 employees and 468 students in 2016 to now nearly 900 employees and 7,000 students. He is president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, which represents the state’s manufacturing sector, and is recognized in the top 20 of the 2023 Pennsylvania Power 100 list.

Henry and Ronya Balogun, Parents Award semi-finalist

Henry and Ronya Balogun are the parents of 10-year-old Reach Cyber graduate David Balogun, who is now pursuing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science and IT at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). The Baloguns noticed David’s signs of high intelligence and passion for learning when he was a very young age, took him for state testing, and enrolled him at Reach Cyber after consulting with the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE). With their unwavering support, David moved quickly, but carefully, advancing from third grade through 12th grade at Reach Cyber in about three years.

In January 2023, David completed all requirements to graduate high school at age 9. In his senior year, he was also enrolled at Bucks County Community College. The Baloguns, who both have advanced degrees, envision a future where their son’s character and acquired knowledge will be channeled to make a lasting impact on society.

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