One Family’s Agora Journey
THREE DETERMINED STUDENTS. TWO DEVOTED PARENTS. ONE COMMUNITY ALREADY BENEFITING FROM THEIR DEDICATION TO PAYING IT FORWARD.
Meet the Fontroy family
This is the Fontroy family from West Philadelphia—mother Brenda, father Tyrone, and children Sandra (Sandy), Taylor and Tyler. Each of them possesses an extraordinary work ethic and determination. And, while many factors contribute to the Fontroys’ inspiring journey, two foundational dynamics truly stand out.
As put best by Brenda when discussing the school choice option in Pennsylvania, “we never let our zip code dictate our future.” And she continues, “We respect and understand the value of a strong education. We work hard and take responsibility for what we make of every opportunity. Education is a full family effort!”
The Fontroys’ journey to Agora
As a teacher at a traditional brick-and-mortar school, Brenda had unique insights into the course public school education was taking in the early 2000s, and she shared her thoughts with Tyrone. Seeing the writing on the wall for a local district brick-and-mortar school education, neither Tyrone nor Brenda was satisfied with what it could provide for their children. Living it firsthand through the experience of an older daughter, who is now a nurse, they knew they needed to look for other schooling options. So, when they read an article about a family successfully homeschooling ten children, Tyrone and Brenda decided that if that family could do it with ten, then they could certainly do it with three and make a great success of it.
The couple did their research, brought their kids into the conversation when appropriate for their ages and decided that Agora Cyber Charter School was going to provide their new path to quality education and promising futures.
Charting a new course with Agora
The Fontroy family enrolled Sandy in Agora starting with kindergarten. Before she even had her first class, they knew Taylor and Tyler would follow suit when they reached kindergarten age.
“The support we were given before Sandy even had her first class was great, and it has never let up for any of our three kids,” said Tyrone. “This is in addition to an amazing education in the classroom. There is no comparing Agora’s support to brick and mortar—it makes the biggest difference.”
“We’ve always had a great relationship with our family coaches from Agora,” said Brenda. “Even now—our coach keeps us updated and connected with ongoings, grades, progress reports, attendance. She’s been really good to us and a definite factor in all three students’ education and growth.”
Like all families, the Fontroys were hesitant about choosing a less traditional education for their children, but the Agora team and approach immediately put their concerns to rest. One was the technology component for a family who, in their words, “wasn’t an electronic family.” But the kids were eager to embrace cyber education, and Agora provided training, equipment, and other materials “from soup to nuts,” so they made a seamless transition. Moreover, they quickly came to appreciate the many advantages of learning online from home and, as Tyrone says, “they even helped me to learn about technology along the way.”
The other concern came from acquaintances cautioning the parents about the supposed socialization traps of cyber school. They quickly learned that Agora offered exceptional opportunities for making connections and building peer relationships. The Fontroys embraced Agora Days Out and many other social events. Sandy says they even love PSSA test days, which bring students together in person, weaving many social aspects into the testing. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, they found ways to be together with their Agora family.
“One example of an extra activity is that we got to virtually visit sites around Philly,” said Sandy. “We’d visit these places and type in the chat. Although I’d lived in Philly my whole life, there were so many sites I’d never seen or taken notice of before.”
Sandy has now happily completed her junior year at Agora, embracing the freedoms and lessons in self-motivation she gains from asynchronous learning—an option she earned and has been using since the sixth grade. Taylor, a rising 11th grader at Agora, and Tyler, who just completed ninth grade, are excelling in synchronous instruction. All of them are certain they will forever be grateful for and continue to draw on the many advantages Agora brought to their lives and the strengths they develop every day as they grow into responsible, empowered adults.
“During COVD, lots of children didn’t appreciate their online opportunities,” said Sandy. “That just made us appreciate Agora’s cyber program even more and see how much work it takes to make the most of cyber school. It’s built up my appreciation for the teachers, admins and family coaches.”
Visions for the future.
The future looks bright for all three Fontroy children, and the present has them on educational journeys they never imagined. Sandy—who enjoys holding down a job thanks to the flexibility her asynchronous learning at Agora makes possible—was accepted into the National Honor Society in ninth grade and, after serving as president this year as a junior, will hold the prestigious position again in her final year. She also continues to pursue her first love, childhood education and a career where she can help people and “set them up for a successful life.” Taylor is on an aggressive educational path in which she hopes to secure herself a scholarship, potentially to Penn State University. And Tyler is still feeling his way a bit as he pursues a well-rounded course of studies including pre-algebra, biology, earth sciences, world history and computer literacy—a class that recently gave him the skills to successfully build a motherboard. All of them also find a great deal of fulfillment paying it forward as tutors in their local library’s Elite Program. Through the program, the Fontroys tutor elementary and high school students, as well as help them with homework and other educational activities and school projects.
It is this type of enthusiasm for putting their education to use—not only toward thriving in their own futures, but toward empowering people around them to have similar opportunities—that truly exemplifies the Agora mission. Agora thanks the entire Fontroy family for bringing our vision to life every day, and for demonstrating that no matter where you live, what challenges you may have or when you decide to change your path, with a solid education and personal determination, you can have an extraordinary impact on the world around you.