Staff Profile: Stacy Christmas
The pages of Agora’s story are filled by the staff that give life to its mission every day. In the journeys that brought them to the Agora family—in their experiences, hard work, hopes, dreams and growth as professionals and as people just like you—we find the essence of what makes Agora the champion of education it is today. Agora thanks its staff for sharing pages of their own experiences to strengthen the connections we have as students, parents, faculty and supporters united in one accomplished and proud Agora family.
After teaching without borders, Mrs. Christmas makes a perfect fit in a school without walls.
From the journal of: Stacy Christmas
Subject: 6th Grade Math
Years in the Agora family: 8
Home base: Luzerne, PA
Stacy and her two brothers grew up in a loving family with a father who was a teacher and guidance counselor, and a mother who was a nurse. Consequently, a respect for education, thirst for knowledge and drive to serve others was part of the family DNA and hugely influential in the paths Stacy took throughout her life. It was never a question that her own educational growth and quest for knowledge would be a lifelong pursuit. And, after her brother’s experience exploring the world gave her the “travel bug,” that pursuit took her beyond the borders of her hometown where she gained life-shaping experiences as an observer, then as an educator, in other countries among a variety of cultures.
The journey to Agora
Stacy’s journey to Agora began at Penn State University, where after 6 months of general studies she knew that elementary/middle school education was the career she was born to have. With nine of her classmates, Stacy jumped at the opportunity offered by the university to do her student teaching abroad—which took her to a small town in England. This experience further ignited Stacy’s passion for empowering young people through quality, personalized education. In fact, her time abroad made such an impact on Stacy that she and some of her classmates launched Penn State’s international teaching program. All in all, including her time obtaining her Masters in Education, Stacy spent ten years abroad. When she returned to the states, Stacy strategically sought a teaching job in North Carolina, where there were more opportunities at the time. After teaching 7/8-grade math there, she returned to Pennsylvania, teaching for two years in a public school. But, when a scholarship opportunity arose she once again “caught the travel bug,” applied and earned the scholarship—which afforded her the chance to teach elementary school in England.
“My time teaching abroad was driven by understanding myself on a deep level—I knew I wanted to do something different,” said Stacy. “I had also gotten a taste through my time at Penn State just how important it is for a teacher to be immersed in different cultures and I knew I wanted more of that. This is something that has truly enriched my ability to teach here at Agora where we embrace such a wonderfully diverse student community.”
Stacy soon enough expanded her cultural immersion beyond England. She taught in Italy, where she met her husband. Soon thereafter the two of them engaged in teaching 6th and 4th graders in Mauritius, Africa—and it was here they also had their son. With a newly formed family, the Christmas’ decided it was time to establish their roots back in the states. After one more year of teaching public school in Pennsylvania, Stacy pushed to satisfy her thirst for doing something truly different—for making a bigger impact on the lives of youth who truly needed help. That pursuit brought her to Agora.
Being the difference
It didn’t take long for Stacy to understand that the cyber school education model was the answer for her. To her the unique possibilities and opportunities offered by the online model were like an endless buffet to satisfy her appetite to teach and empower children. It was also the perfect environment for her to bring her many years and depth of experiences teaching abroad to life—to pool it all together in a unique, cohesive teaching philosophy and approach.
“Agora proves that you don’t need the walls of a brick-and-mortar school to create a school community and provide a top-quality education,” said Stacy. “I considered it a challenge to see if I could make what I’ve learned in the past come to life in a virtual environment. Can I get them to learn differently and even better? Yes. I definitely can.”
Stacy is truly beloved by Agora students, parents and her fellow faculty members. In addition to her current students, those who have graduated continue to stay in touch and express their appreciation for the way she has impacted their lives. Stacy is steadfast in her educational mission, dedicated to her students’ success and truly enjoys what she does. And all this shows—from her always being around after class to help students conquer their math challenges, to her continually providing references for past students onto the next phase of their education, to the many fun ways she finds to engage with students in and outside of the classroom, and much more.
“When I see the lightbulb go off in a student’s head, it is truly exciting and personally fulfilling,” said Stacy. “I make a point to stay connected with students not just because it is part of my job, but because every one of them makes me a better educator. Education at Agora is very much a two-way process, and that makes all the difference.”
The next chapter
Stacy feels she will always continue her own professional education and study for different degrees and certifications—which most recently include computer technology, learning Spanish and pursuing national board certification.
As for what is next in terms of actively teaching, Stacy is rooted at Agora and knows that virtual education is not just a trend, but the way of the future. There is no question she will continue teaching at Agora and take every opportunity it offers to continue to improve her own philosophy and dedication to students.
“I absolutely love the students, families and teaching here,” said Stacy. “It really was my destiny. Teaching internationally, I saw how virtual learning was slowly becoming the norm. Agora is way ahead of the curve, with 16 years of experience perfecting the virtual learning model. I’m happy and proud to stay on this journey as we continue to pave the way.”