Student Features

Two sisters on path to success after PA Cyber

Dec 8, 2017

Sisters Amanda, left, and Jenna Kessler, discovered a better alternative with PA Cyber Charter School. 

Two sisters from Barto, Pa. are making a difference in the world after graduating from PA Cyber Charter School.

Jenna Kessler, 26, a 2009 graduate, received her bachelor's degree in environmental studies at Slippery Rock University in 2013 and her master's degree in geography at Florida State University in 2015. She is currently teaching English at a private school in South Korea.

Her sister, Amanda Kessler, 22, a 2013 alumna, will graduate in November with a bachelor's degree in Game Art and Design at Savannah College of Art and Design. She will continue at SCAD in graduate school in January 2018.

Their parents, Joe and Jordis Kessler, said they decided to enroll their daughters at PA Cyber after Jenna experienced bullying in middle school and was unhappy.

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"A friend of mine told me about cyber school, so I researched all of the available schools," Jordis Kessler said. "We signed up for a PA Cyber meeting local to us and at the end of the meeting, my husband said to sign her up."

Jenna, then a 10th-grader, became extremely self-motivated and was able to relax enough to enjoy her extra-curricular activities. Once Jenna was in PA Cyber, Amanda, a sixth-grader at the time, felt disgruntled about having to be in the local school. She was in the gifted program and felt the only joy she was having out of school was the one day she got to go with the gifted students to their special program. In the middle of Amanda's sixth grade school year, she started with PA Cyber.

Jenna is now teaching in South Korea and Amanda is planning to attend graduate school.

Jenna saw cyber school as a relief. She still remembers the books she read in her literature classes and actually enjoyed PA Cyber's history classes, a subject she previously disliked.

Amanda says that just knowing that she was able to discipline herself to do her school work on her own was motivating and filled her with self-esteem. She credits her "cutting edge science" courses in ecology and genetics, an extra part of the PA Cyber curriculum, and a game design course, for propelling her into a search for the perfect college to pursue her goals.

"It was a blessing and they both learned a great deal about their own capabilities and self-motivation," Jordis Kessler said of her daughters' experiences.

Jenna had been a piano accompanist for the local school since sixth grade and continued to do so until her graduation. Amanda also acted as piano accompanist at the local school after Jenna graduated. Unfortunately, once the school administrators found out that she was a cyber student, she was no longer allowed to volunteer as a pianist. Jenna and Amanda were choir members in Bel Canto Children's Chorus, a five-county audition choir, which gave them many opportunities to travel. When Jenna graduated, for example, she and her sister toured Italy with their choir and had the honor of singing during a mass at St. Peter's Basilica.

Jenna also volunteered at a local rescue zoo during the summer. She learned about Terra-Cycle, a Trenton-based garbage recycling company that reduces hard-to-recycle waste, from a friend who was a docent at the zoo. She then went on to establish a TerraCycle program at Slippery Rock University.

Amanda took art lessons at The Baum School of Art, GoggleWorks, and Studio B in Boyertown. She also worked at Studio B as an art assistant.

Both girls also have positive memories of the field trips they took through PA Cyber. They were able to meet teachers at the field trips and most notably at graduation, their mom said.

"We felt such warmth and support from the teachers and staff. They made it an easy decision and a wonderful experience."

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.