Student Features

Family’s focus on academics leads to student achievements

Apr 22, 2016

ESPYVILLE, Pa. - Students with a hunger for learning and parents who invest themselves in their children’s education are a formula for success in cyber school, as one PA Cyber family has demonstrated.

Laura Wagner, 16, will earn her high school diploma a year early, graduating from PA Cyber Charter School this June. She has already been accepted at the University of Findlay, where she will major in pre-veterinary studies. Thanks to her academic record at PA Cyber, she has been nominated to attend the Congress of Future Medical Leaders at Lowell, Mass., this summer.

“Since the time Laura was little she wanted to be a veterinarian, and she wanted to graduate by the time she was 16. She has kept her goals,” said their mother, Billiejo Wagner. The family, including father Rick Wagner, resides at Espyville in rural northwestern Pennsylvania.

Laura’s brother Daniel overcame ADHD and bullying in school, according to their mother. He graduated from PA Cyber and is in his junior year at Thiel College, majoring in computer science and working at the campus radio station.

Daniel, a 2013 PA Cyber graduate, was honored as the 2016 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Best Production Director for his work at the Thiel College radio station. The award was conferred at the annual IBS conference in New York City March 4-5.

The family transferred their children to cyber school after Daniel suffered one too many bullying attacks in school when he was in third grade.

“He was hit in the face, breaking his glasses, but the school wouldn’t do anything to the three boys who did it,” said his mom. “When he hit back, they made him out as a bully. I told the school, ‘I’m pulling him out.’ They said, ‘You can’t do that.’ I said, ‘Watch me.’”

Laura and Daniel first were enrolled in Connections Academy, but after three years their mother felt they were not being academically challenged. They switched to PA Cyber when he was in seventh grade and she was in third.

“I don’t want my kids to just glide through,” she said. “You guys challenge your students. I would say our kids have done wonderfully compared to any school. I recommend PA Cyber wherever I see people that have kids. I am your best advocate.”

Billiejo cautions parents that cyber school “only works if you are fully invested in your child. You have to make sure what you are doing is for your child.”

Both the Wagner children began reading early, their mom recalls. “I’d go to the library and get 45 books. They’d read them and I’d go back for another 45. I wanted to put as much into these sponges as I could.”

Laura fell in love with cyber school for all the right reasons. “I liked being able to stay home and do my homework, plus I could do as much enrichment work as I wanted, and finish courses early if I wanted to.”

She has five cats and has always loved animals, leading to her choice of veterinary medicine as a career goal. She knows it is difficult to be accepted into vet school, and has maintained a straight-A average in high school, even while taking on additional required courses in order to finish a year early.

Her excellent grades led to her nomination to attend the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Lowell, Mass., this coming June 25-27. The purpose of the Congress, according to the letter she received informing her of her selection, is “to honor, inspire, motivate and direct the top students in our country who aspire to be physicians or medical scientists.”

Laura is to be among 1,500 honors students attending the conference.

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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.