PA Cyber graduate returns to alma mater as teacher
Jul 23, 2018
When Patricia Yeager was growing up, she and her family decided PA Cyber would be a good fit for several reasons.
“I had always been an independent learner, so the flexibility that PA Cyber offered was a big draw. I liked being able to work at my own pace. I was also very involved in a number of activities outside of school — dance, church — and PA Cyber helped me manage this busy schedule and find time for everything I loved.”
Yeager graduated from PA Cyber in 2012 only to return to her alma mater in August as a teacher. She is a Virtual Classroom Teacher in the 6-8 Academy. She said the experience has been wonderful.
“I felt like I was able to connect with my students quickly because I have been on the other side,” she said.
Yeager said she likes the challenge of creating engaging lessons in an online environment. She’s able to think back to how her teachers made class exciting, and strives to do the same for her students.
While attending high school, Yeager participated in one of PA Cyber’s first National Honor Society induction ceremonies, one of many fond memories.
“That was a big moment for the school. I enjoyed meeting fellow inductees and discussing our goals for NHS and life beyond high school. Involvement in NHS my junior and senior year really helped me set goals for college.”
Another highlight was writing for The PA Cyber Press. Yeager was part of the first group for the student-run paper.
“I love to see that both of these things are still going today. As a self-proclaimed literary nerd, newspaper club helped me find other students who loved writing just as much as I did,” she said.
There were many teachers who inspired her as well, including Amy Nyeholt, whom Yeager had for AP Literature.
“She always came up with creative and thought-provoking lessons, and gave her students a safe space to discuss difficult topics,” Yeager said. “She is now one of my colleagues in the 6-8 Academy English department.”
Nyeholt is part of the reason Yeager wanted to become an English teacher. After high school, she landed at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature with a certification in secondary education.
Nyeholt said it has been a true joy to see Yeager grow from being a first-year PA Cyber student to now being a colleague.
“There are rare moments in your career where you get this lucky. I knew she would be successful in her career as a teacher, and I feel so blessed to know she is working with our students. They are lucky to have her and I am lucky enough to work collaboratively with her in the 6-8 Academy. Nothing is better than chatting about books, authors, and how we teach them.”
What is even more wonderful, Nyeholt said, is that these conversations have never stopped with Yeager.
“We had these discussions when she was a student, when she was in college, and now day to day in her career. Patty and I have always shared a love of reading and teaching and have been able to keep that conversation and relationship going for years. I could not be more proud or excited for Patty as she continues in her work here at PA Cyber.”
Another favorite English teacher was Mike Ames, who teaches VC Literary Explorations and ninth-grade English. Yeager said she was amazed at how anyone could know so much about J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” novels.
“I appreciated the humor he brought to class and how he helped me improve my writing,” she said.
Ames said Patricia was a student of his during the 2010-11 school year and he has most, if not all her papers from that year. He recalled “how consistently excellent she was as a student.”
“Patty was one of PA Cyber's gems. Everything she wrote was not only well-written, but her insights were interesting. I looked forward to reading her work and communicating with her in class. She was one of my best students, and that's something in an elective class full of ambitious seniors,” Ames said.
One of Yeager’s favorite non-English classes was physics. She said physics teacher Erin Butler inspired her to think deeply about the world around her.
“I was not always thrilled to complete the math that is involved in physics class, but she motivated me to work hard,” she said.
Butler said oftentimes teachers work with students all year, hoping to inspire them to do great things, but rarely do they get to see that success after students graduate.
“It was my pleasure to have Ms. Yeager all those years ago and I’m so delighted to know that she is doing well and passing this inspiration on to her own students now.”
Now that she’s a teacher, Yeager said she has been moved by her own students. One inspirational moment this school year came from a sweet note she received from a student just a few weeks ago. The student wanted to thank Yeager for putting hard work into lessons and helping her writing improve.
“The gratitude goes both ways – her eagerness to learn has inspired me,” she said.
Yeager and Nyeholt at PA Cyber's 2012 graduation ceremony
Another highlight has been reading “The Diary of Anne Frank” play with her eighth-graders.
“The way these students discussed such a difficult topic with maturity and intellect was truly inspirational. I have watched them grow throughout the year, and I can’t wait to see them make the transition to high school.”
“My seventh and eighth-grade students are awesome. I am so proudof how hard they have worked this year.”
Casie Colalella / email@example.com
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.