Agora Cyber Charter School Celebrates the Students, Families and Educators

Agora Cyber Charter School

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA — Agora Cyber Charter School recently recapped a year in review, highlighting the personal and academic achievements of its students, school milestones and noteworthy accomplishments of its faculty. Each year, Agora shares achievements as a way to thank the community it serves, as well as to help educate others interested in understanding more about the distinctive attributes of a cyber school education. Perhaps more than in any other year, Agora’s review on the time span from June 2020 to June 2021—in which the academic arena and the world in general faced formidable and unprecedented challenges driven by COVID-19—emphasizes the Agora community’s extraordinary resilience and dedication to empowering positive futures.

“Since last spring, many people and communities have been drawing on inner strengths and the spirit of togetherness to survive and thrive in an unprecedented situation,” said Dr. Rich Jensen, Agora Cyber Charter CEO. “I am so proud of the Agora community—the students, families, faculty and supporters—for exemplifying these attributes. They never skipped a beat or shied away from any educational challenge and always embraced their responsibility to support each other and empower the students to reach their highest potential.”

One of the school’s proudest moments came in the first two months of the pandemic, as hundreds of parents searched to find a viable educational option. In a pandemic-driven time of economic uncertainty, Agora put education and children above all else—enrolling more than 300 students for the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year. Several of those students remained with Agora for the 2020-2021 school year, joining other newly enrolled cyber students to complete their high school education. Among the distinguished institutions at which Agora graduates will continue their education next year are Penn State University, Shippensburg University, University of Pittsburgh, Delaware County Community College, Philadelphia Community College, East Stroudsburg University, University of Northwestern Ohio and the military.

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With this impressive bookending of the year, Agora summarizes the top achievements in between:

The nation’s first trauma-informed cyber school. Having earned this distinction in 2019, Agora now helps more than 1,000 students annually navigate troubling life experiences and receive a quality education. Additionally, in this past academic year, the number of trauma-impacted students at Agora increased. To further elevate Agora’s ability to provide effective Family Coaches and connect with students in crisis, two Agora professionals became trainers for Youth Mental Health First Aid, and there are plans in place to train more staff members in 2021-2022.

Growth in STEM programming, including the first-ever STEM opportunity for elementary school students. Agora’s STEM program expanded to include resources and opportunities ranging from guest speakers, projects and contests to virtual field trips with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Carnegie Science Center. In addition, Agora formed a partnership with PA STEM Experiences for Equity and Diversity (SEED) and Empowering the Next Generation of Innovators and Entrepreneurs (ENGINE) of Central PA. Students also had the opportunity to meet a NASA employee, take a virtual tour of the space station and send their hopes to the moon through Penn State’s Hope Moonshot program. Coding was also a hot topic and was practiced on Family Code Night and through Computer Science Education Week.

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Dollar Literacy Foundation grant award. The grant awarded to Agora recognized the critical importance the school places on literacy and was used to support, among other initiatives, the Agora Loves Lit program. This faculty holiday sharing program focused on providing education on a diversity of cultures and religions, creative writing contests and programs to encourage learning during summer break.

Calling on the experts in virtual learning—in the classroom and the locker room! Agora went to great lengths to share its expertise in virtual learning, as schools as well as other arenas needing to provide various forms of education faced challenges of the “distance learning pandemic pivot.” Wherever Agora was called, its experts went to help the community and educators successfully navigate their uncharted waters. Agora teachers presented at the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C) and the Education Leading to Employment and Career Training (ELECT) conference. In addition, Agora teacher Whitney Bargerstock met with the offensive line coaches for the Minnesota Vikings to teach them how to best use technology and virtual training to help keep players prepared and up to speed until they were able to physically get the team back together for training.

Continuing a steady ascent. Even during a year that was often dictated by the pandemic, Agora’s statistics continued to impress in the educational arena. Key among these were higher rates of enrollment of special education and at-risk students; an 86% re-enrollment rate; continued upward trends in student academic growth measures in English, language arts and science; an 84% rate for students learning synchronously; and a 16% rate for students learning asynchronously.

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Additional Agora accomplishments.

  • The school was selected as a featured school to showcase the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit’s work in partnering with schools. Several of Agora’s administrators participated in a related statewide panel in June 2021.
  • Two students participated in and won awards at the Biodiversity Winter Institute for Young Scientists.
  • A new eSports team was created, and they completed their inaugural competition season.
  • Tracy Harris’ sixth-grade class was named state champions of the Readbowl.
  • Six students participated in the National Novel Writing Month, where they had to write 50,000 words in a month.
  • Students participated in the PA National Guard Wi-Fighter Cyber Challenge.
  • Multiple teachers attained national board certification.

A look ahead to accreditation. Agora sees accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education on its horizon. Having continuously evolved, built its resources and created successful learning environments critical to the academic and personal growth of its students over the past 16 years, Agora is on a steady track for this accreditation and anticipates receiving it in the fall of 2021.

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