Press Releases

Erie office hosts first GATE-STAR-STEM Awareness Day

Nov 2, 2015

A special event for students in PA Cyber’s GATE, STAR and STEM programs – and to acquaint families in the Erie region with those programs – is planned for Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Erie office of The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.

“PA Cyber has some exceptional opportunities for gifted students. This is a day for PA Cyber students and their families in the Erie area to learn about the GATE, STAR and STEM programs, and to get together with students in those programs for a day of fun, educational and challenging activities,” said Mike Hissam, director of the Gifted and Talented Education, or GATE, program. (STAR is a companion program to the gifted program.)

Hands-on science workshops, and a game show event are part of the schedule of events from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Lunch will be provided from noon to 1 p.m. The Erie office is located at 2212 W. 15th St., Erie, Pa., 16505.

A special guest for the event is Marty Schiff, a television actor, director and producer whose 35 years of Hollywood credits stretch from appearances in several George Romero films, including Dawn of the Dead, and TV shows, including Dallas, Newhart, Perfect Strangers, and Out of Control, Nickelodeon’s very first series, which set the style for the network. He’s also recognized as having worked on the development team for the landmark comedy In Living Color, and the Ace Ventura movies.  

Students will have the opportunity to meet with Schiff, as well as staff from the Building Bridges for Business U Can B entrepreneurial and business program, prior to his 3 p.m. interactive video presentation. In a live feed from Erie, Schiff will talk about opportunities in the entertainment industry to PA Cyber students in other regional offices through U Can B.

Activities for the morning session, 10 a.m. to noon, include a Battle of the Books workshop, Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, or STEM demonstration, and an educational gaming and software workshop featuring games and programs from Glasslab Games and JASON Learning.

Over the lunch hour, families will be able to meet and talk to the staff members who run these programs: STEM Director Joel Cilli, GATE/STAR facilitators Doug Pavkovich, Brian Boothby and Amie Waddell, GATE Director Mike Hissam, and Gemma Iannessa, who recently joined the team as the GATE admissions representative.

A game show with questions based on the morning’s workshops will follow at 1 p.m., with prizes for participating students.

STEM Director Joel Cilli will lead students in a hands-on science/technology activity from 1:45 to 2:30 p.m., followed by Marty Schiff’s appearance and the U CAN B session.

Hissam and Cilli said they plan to host GATE/STEM Awareness Days at other PA Cyber regional offices over the coming months.

There are currently 575 PA Cyber students in the GATE and STAR programs. Many of them are among the 80 students in the STEM program by virtue of their enrollment in the PA Cyber School of Engineering. 

Media Contact

Casie Colalella /

About PA Cyber

Serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online public schools in the nation. PA Cyber's online learning environments, personalized instructional methods, and choices of curricula connect Pennsylvania students and their families with state-certified and highly-qualified teachers, and rich academic content that is aligned to state standards. Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains a network of support offices throughout the state. As a public school, PA Cyber is open for enrollment by any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and does not charge tuition to students or families.