Teacher Profiles

PA Cyber’s Mike Hissam Helps Students Win Statewide Stock Market Challenge

May 24, 2021

Mike HissamDirector of Gifted and Talented Mike Hissam has been guiding PA Cyber students through the Stock Market Challenge for the past five years, and every year at least one student places in the top 10 in each grade group. This year seventh grader Moad Albahboh, of Pittsburgh, earned third place in the middle school category.

Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Council on Financial Literacy (PennCFL), the competitive challenges occur in both fall and spring and last 10 weeks each. Students compete in their grade-level group as follows: elementary (grades 1–6), middle (grades 7–8), and high school (grades 9–12). Students begin the game with $100,000 to buy their stocks and then trade, sell, or buy additional stocks with the goal of maximizing their portfolio's revenue. The top ten students in each grade-level group earn Amazon gift cards. In late April, Albahboh achieved third place with a $154,000 stock balance at the close of the spring challenge.

Hissam praises Albahboh's achievement. "Although many students seem to enjoy the Stock Market Challenge, some really excel in the program. Moad consistently monitored his stocks and made the necessary adjustments to be successful. I am incredibly proud of his well-deserved accomplishment!"

This year 55 students from PA Cyber's gifted and STAR programs participated in the competitions. (STAR is a PA Cyber academic incentive program.) Hissam ensures that each registrant has the proper resources and support to better understand how to buy, sell, and trade stock.

The Stock Market Challenge uses a real-world application and actual stocks to teach students about the value of stocks and how each of the companies with stock are essential to the economy. Hissam explains, "Trading stocks helps students understand why certain products are in demand due to economic growth or in less demand due to economic decline. The last two years have been really interesting since COVID-19 disrupted the economy, and stocks frequently rose while other plummeted."

Hissam joined PA Cyber in 2004 as an Instructional Supervisor. Since then, he has held several roles before becoming the Director of Gifted and Talented in 2012. In his current role, he oversees the academic and enrichment opportunities available to students in the gifted and STAR programs. He also manages a staff of facilitators and an assistant who all make sure that gifted and talented students remain challenged and engaged in their academics.

"I love working with my team to create new and exciting opportunities for students," he says. "I also enjoy working with students and assisting them with their academics to nurture their education while at PA Cyber."

Mike Hissam runs Strategic Gaming Workshop

Mike Hissam assists PA Cyber students at a workshop where they learned about strategic gaming and built their own games. PA Cyber hosted the Gifted Enrichment Day at the Harrisburg regional office last year.

Besides the Stock Market Challenge, Hissam also oversees the Battle of the Books program, Ever-Fi enrichment, weekly student discussions, Newzbrain, educational outings, and other activities and competitions.

Hissam thanks PennCFL Vice President Carolyn Shirk for allowing PA Cyber students to participate in the competition. "Where others have closed the door to opportunities for cyber students, Carolyn graciously welcomed PA Cyber and has continued to work with us to bring the Stock Market Challenge to our students year after year."

Like Hissam, Ms. Shirk and PennCFL are passionate about teaching young people financial management and entrepreneurial skills. This cutting-edge, real-time stock game is derived from Stock-Trak's University Platform, which is used in over 80% of the top business schools in the United States. Financial literacy provides a sound fiscal foundation for the future prosperity of these PA Cyber students.

Media Contact

Casie Colalella / casie.colalella@pacyber.org

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.