Agora Days Out Are Back
ADOs—Bigger and Better for the 2022-2023 School Year
As adults, some of our fondest memories of the K-12 experience are from school field trips. We remember the anticipation as we traveled to somewhere new; the lively conversations we had with classmates; the socialization over brown-bag lunches; and, of course, the fun of exploring new places—it hardly seemed like learning at all. Agora Cyber Charter School takes pride in bringing our students all these meaningful field-trip opportunities, with the added bonus of including families. And with our cyber format, we can bring our students, families and faculty additional experiences that brick-and-mortar schools aren’t equipped to offer. We call them Agora Days Out (ADO), and they offer amazing opportunities for students, families and faculty to meet in person or virtually; get to know each other outside of the classroom; discover new things about their region; and—as we experienced in our youth—learn in ways that “hardly seem like learning at all!”
Our new-and-improved Agora Days Out are underway.
The COVID-driven “hiatus” for in-person ADOs offered us valuable insights on ways we could improve our program. So, for this school year (2022-2023), Agora is dedicating one day per quarter for an ADO experience, giving each student the choice to participate in person or virtually. The enhanced ADO program kicked off in September, with launch parties led by Family Coaches. At these events, students received planners and interacted with the Agora mobile libraries. Following this launch, we held our first official ADO of the year on October 26, which by all measures was a great success for all involved—from students and families to teachers, administrators and Family Coaches!
After the first event, Family Coach Coordinator Susan Detwiler, who assists in ADO planning, commented on the importance of the staff and family interactions that come with these events. “I can honestly say that while students were excited, it was just as exciting for Agora staff. They were thrilled to be out with students and families,” said Detwiler.
“Instead of attending an ADO closer to their home, we had a mom drive over two hours because her child wanted to be a part of the specific experience happening farther away,” said Pam Keth, another one of the four incredible Family Coach Coordinators who help to make these events possible. “The best part about these days is that our students are still learning. They’re just doing it in different ways, including outside.”
Gina Sczepkowski, a Family Coach Coordinator who attended the Flinchbaugh’s Orchard ADO in York, was thrilled that the weather cleared just in time for 50 attendees to enjoy a great day. “Seeing the parents participate in activities and games was inspiring, and the family-to-family interactions will leave lasting memories and relationships,” said Sczepkowski. “Three of our regional Family Coaches brought their mobile libraries to the orchard, and students brought back books from their September interactions, excited to exchange them for new books. Seeing the extracurricular learning that comes with this new program is incredible.”
On October 26, students had several options to attend an ADO in person. These included trips to Rohrbach’s Farm Market, Bakery & Gift Shop (Catawissa); Country Creek Produce Farm (Chambersburg); Trax Farms Tours & Activities (Finleyville); Linvilla Orchards (Media); Elmwood Park Zoo (Norristown); Roba Family Farms (North Abington Township); Philadelphia Zoo (Philadelphia); Gring’s Mill Nature Walk (Reading); Flight 93 Memorial (Shanksville); and Shady Brook Farm (Yardley).
As in-person activities were going on at the various sites, virtual ADO events were happening simultaneously, with the same degree of success. In fact, ADO virtual classrooms ranged in size from 57 to 579 attendees, who interacted, had fun and learned together. These virtual ADOs were made possible by a number of dedicated Agora faculty, including Family Coach Coordinator Laura Goldman, who spent the day ensuring that all the virtual events went smoothly; College and Career Readiness Coordinator Kristin Thatcher, who did an excellent job with logistics and planning; and all-star Science Teacher Eric Pfeiffer, who helped plan events and conducted two virtual sessions touring the Philadelphia Zoo. Other virtual options took students, families and faculty through an Indoor Scavenger Hunt (K-5 and 6-12); a Hispanic Heritage Scavenger Hunt; Peculiar Jobs; Halloween Jobs; Introduction to Google Earth, PA Tour; and more
But wait, there’s more. Four more to be precise.
In addition to one in-person/virtual ADO every quarter, we have added one Agora asynchronous learning day per quarter. Also offering in-person and virtual options, these events are planned by Family Coaches and Coordinators to provide additional opportunities for student-family-staff interactions that offer valuable education on subjects that differ from those taught in the classroom. Students participated in the first of these asynchronous days on November 3 and chose from such experiences as visits to the Franklin Institute and Johnstown Discovery Center, a gathering at the Community Library of Shenango Valley, a tour of Stage AE in Pittsburgh and a walk at the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Latrobe. (Photos to come)
This school year, between ADOs and asynchronous field-trip-like experiences, Agora is dedicating eight days to providing our students and families opportunities to socialize, participate in exciting explorations and experience hands-on education. We look forward to seeing how each remaining day unfolds as we embrace the Agora community in truly unique learning experiences. The next ADO will take place on December 21.
Remaining 2022-23 Schedule
Wednesday, 12/21 All-School Agora Day Out
Thursday, 1/19 Asynch Day (Optional ADO)
Wednesday, 2/22 All-School Agora Day Out
Monday, 3/27 Asynch Day (Optional ADO)
Wednesday, 5/31 All-School Agora Day Out