Student Features

Sisters grow closer sharing cyber school experience

Feb 25, 2016

ALTOONA, Pa. - Carly Ickes is 11. Her sister Baylee is 13. Going to school together in PA Cyber has gotten Carly back on track academically, and provided an unexpected side benefit of bringing the sisters closer together as they shared the cyber school experience.

When Robin and Andy Ickes moved their family from rural Missouri to Altoona, Pa., in June 2014, they considered homeschooling their two children still living at home. The main reason was that Carly had a bad experience in her last classroom school, damaging her self-confidence and delaying her academic progress.

However, traditional homeschooling “was out of the question because my husband and I couldn’t give Carly our undivided attention,” Mrs. Ickes said.

Enrolling Carly in a large urban school district was not an attractive option, either, her mom said: “The school system in Missouri had about 800 students in grades K-8. Coming to Altoona, she would have 800 students in the same grade. She would be a little overwhelmed.”

PA Cyber has proven to be a good solution for Carly and her sister Baylee as well, and has helped the family through a time of transition.

Kristi Williams and Kristin Kovacs are Carly’s fourth grade Virtual Classroom (VC) teachers in PA Cyber this year. They have helped Carly appreciate her own abilities, and that has brought success in her studies.

In her old school, Carly “had a third grade teacher who basically bullied her and made her feel bad about herself,” said Mrs. Williams. PA Cyber testing showed she lagged behind a grade level academically. Her parents agreed to the PA Cyber academic team’s recommendation that she repeat fourth grade.

Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Kovacs were so impressed by Carly’s effort and progress this year that they nominated her for a school citation. Principal Kevin Romasco named her PA Cyber Student of the Month or December for grades 3-5.

“Carly has had so many negative school experiences and she still continues to push herself and be positive,” the teachers stated in their nomination. “She is working hard to improve her reading, completing the reading assistant program three times a week for 30 minutes each time. Carly attended math tutoring to get extra work on division. She really goes above and beyond, and is a great student.”

Carly’s mother said, “The first year in PA Cyber in blended classes was a little challenging, but we pushed through. This year in VC classes she has done extremely well. She enjoys her teachers and all the friends she has made. They helped her regain the confidence she had lost through the bad experience.”

The girls will be in a different school next year because their father, a Christian pastor who also works for the federal government, is being transferred to upstate New York where he will continue his work helping military veterans.

“PA Cyber was a great opportunity for us because we didn’t know where we were going to be permanently,” said Robin Ickes. “The girls are both kind of excited for the change of going to a traditional school.”

Mrs. Ickes feels that their time in PA Cyber helped their daughters with more than academics. One evening as the girls stood at the kitchen sink, chatting as they did the dinner dishes, their mother realized how much their friendship has grown.

“To be able to go to school from home has been a wonderful experience for them,” said Mrs. Ickes. “They’ve had to work through things together. It has built a bond between them.”

Baylee (left) and Carly Ickes with their older siblings Corey Ickes and Shelby Ickes Meyer

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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.