Staff Highlight: Tyler Bui
From the journal of: Tyler Bui
Position Family Coach
Years in the Agora family: 17
Home base: Harleysville, PA
Tyler started his education facing a challenge—he knew very little of the language spoken by his classmates and teachers. But one teacher took him under her wing and worked with him. She was kind and understanding. Patient. Nurturing. She helped him both learn and adapt. As he progressed through elementary school, Tyler encountered more teachers who provided him with that same level of investment—an investment in him, his education, and his success. In fact, he came to love school so much, he didn’t miss a single day from kindergarten through grade 6. The value of those teachers became even more pronounced when, after elementary school, Tyler’s experience with teachers wasn’t so positive. By comparison, Tyler learned even more profoundly how important it was that educators at every level—from formal instructors or mentors in other capacities—become fully invested in each student and their unique abilities, challenges, hopes and dreams.
Tyler was also influenced by his family. As one of 10 children, Tyler understood very early on the importance of hard work, how much it takes to raise a family, and that the key to an enriched life is giving to others. He learned watching his own father work 12-hour days to provide. He learned by participating in the family paper route to bring in extra money. He learned from the resourcefulness of his mother who saved every possible penny and found fruit-picking jobs that allowed her and the older children to contribute to the family income. Lastly, Tyler’s parents instilled in him the responsibility—and the joy—of giving back. Despite them not having any “money to spare” the family always found a way to give to and lift up others by getting involved with their church and community.
“I carried this through my life and continue to live it today. I don’t do my job at Agora for the money. I enjoy being a family coach because it’s for a bigger purpose. No matter what a family may need, I have the opportunity to provide for them. It’s a blessing to me that I’m able to help our families It’s a privilege having them trust in and share with me so that I can truly help.”
The journey to Agora
Tyler—who is a certified elementary education teacher, holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, and has a specialty degree at the doctorate level in educational leadership—started his professional experiences as a reading teacher. His career journey prior to Agora included teaching 6th grade language arts to special education students, 5th grade instruction in a public brick-and-mortar school, 2nd grade teaching at a private school, and teaching at an alternative school. Tyler cherishes this diversity of experience as one of the foundations of his success as an Agora family coach.
“I was very fortunate to work with all different kinds of students—from those struggling to read at grade level to those struggling in life. I got to help all types of students overcome bad choices and understand the importance of education. Experiencing all of this helped me to become a more well-rounded educator and someone who can truly understand a diversity of backgrounds as well as how important the uniqueness of every individual is.”
Just around the time Agora opened our doors, a friend mentioned Agora to Tyler. At the time, the cyber learning concept was so new and unknown, so Tyler was skeptical. But he was also curious and eager to continue his own growth and influence in the world of education. So, he gave it a try, joining as a teacher, just as Agora started our second year. Tyler taught in the classrooms for five years before coming a family coach.
“My early years at Agora made me realize that while in-person school is important and I enjoyed it, students need other options. Families need alternatives to educate their children. In-person may work for a lot of people, but it doesn’t work for everybody.”
Being the difference
When we say Tyler is Agora’s “#1 Coach,” we mean it. Literally, he was in on the ground floor of Agora’s family coaching program, becoming one of our very first family coaches. Eleven years ago, he made a bold move out of the classroom to help us start the program—he was a pioneer in something no other school offered. Through the years, Tyler has helped the program evolve and change with the times. Through his own practices as a family coach, he has helped define the role and the value it brings to Agora families. He is adored and respected by families and staff alike because of the mission he lives every day.
Day in and day out Tyler meets with families to understand their challenges and needs, then helps develop individualized solutions to ensure the success of the students—and the confidence of their loved ones. Because of his own journey to get here, Tyler has developed an ability to be compassionate, empathetic and knowledgeable, all of which establish the most critical attribute of a family coach: trust. Because Tyler’s families trust him unequivocally, the things they achieve together are truly amazing. As a coach, Tyler becomes one with the family—he becomes invested in their present and their future.
“It’s still exciting to think I was part of Agora being the first cyber school to have teachers and staff members visit families in-person—to help get them acclimated, to discuss and solve for barriers to learning. This personal touch is huge. I love learning about their stories because this helps builds the relationship. The more I can understand families and their back stories, the more I can inspire, encourage and support them to become successful learners.”
The next chapter
Having been raised in a military family, Tyler understands that mental toughness is critical to handling the stress, adversity, heartache, and disappointments life throws at all of us. He knows that for Agora students and families these things will always be present and that it is his role to help them navigate through them on the road to lifelong learning. He also knows that society today will require even more of the toughness, and he is dedicated to leading the Agora community through whatever challenges may come.
Tyler and his wife of 25 years convey these messages to their 3 great sons daily and he loves being a dad and sharing in their journeys. But it always comes back to how he can continue to evolve, both as a parent and educator.
“It’s important to always have a growth mindset in this world. Even for me, there’s always something more to learn—always things I can do better. There is also always more to learn as society changes and families are burdened with additional and more diverse challenges. Therefore, I must keep striving to understand all I can about our families so we can support them and help students become successful learners.”