Recent Agora Grad Pursues Her Dream Career in Movies and Storytelling
Through her nine years at Agora, Abby Muffie, a proud graduate of the class of 2023, has developed several strong insights about our model that offer powerful lessons, not only to the communities hesitant to accept cyber charter schools as places of educational excellence, but to all of us. What makes Abby’s messages even more unique is that her educational experience never included brick-and-mortar schools—she was either home-schooled by her parents or attended Agora. Without the experience of brick-and-mortar classrooms, she acknowledges that her appreciation for Agora comes without a hands-on experience with in-person schooling.
Recognizing the increased levels of trauma resulting from violence occurring in schools, Abby’s parents enrolled Abby and her sister in online school from the start. By fourth grade, Abby was a proud Agora student. Agora was the best journey for her, but it still came with challenges—especially the stigma.
“Being educated virtually causes many people to assume things about you and judge you,” said Abby. “The stereotype of students who don’t attend a brick-and-mortar school is that they are weird or have misbehaved. People don’t realize families choose Agora because it is safer or offers a more flexible schedule.”
Abby encourages people to think before they pass judgement on cyber charter schools and to consider the many factors that may make such schools the best choice for a family. These include everything from avoiding bullying to scheduling that accommodates medical needs to providing a specialized program that challenges accelerated students or customizes learning for students with disabilities.
Abby developed one of her more recent advocacy points during the COVID-19 pandemic. In her experience, people quickly assumed that cyber charter school learning was similar—or identical—to the ad-hoc distance learning brick-and-mortar schools implemented during lockdown periods.
“Many students said how easy it was and how much time they had on their hands. They didn’t realize that they only had free time because their teachers were not ready to teach them over Zoom, and they had no homework or assignments planned.”
Throughout the pandemic, Agora students continued as usual, working hard, staying engaged and learning steadily without skipping a beat—because cyber learning has been both perfected and evolving with new technologies at Agora for nearly 20 years.
Lastly, Abby is adamant about debunking the myth that cyber school education is easy.
“When I was younger, a family member who is a little older than I am said that she wished she could go online and not do any schoolwork. My sister and I quickly reminded her that just because we go to school online doesn’t mean we don’t do anything. Sometimes I feel like online students have more work to do.”
Throughout her time at Agora, Abby has been a role model of working hard in pursuit of her educational and future goals. Moreover, she accepts that every path, no matter how good it is, has its challenges that require hard work and determination—and using the support available to overcome obstacles. A good example occurred at the start of Abby’s fifth-grade year, when an unexpected medical issue required her to spend time away from school. Agora and Abby’s family determined the school’s asynchronous learning model would offer Abby the flexibility she needed to care for her health, attend appointments and continue her education uninterrupted.
“Agora’s support in such a difficult and stressful time in my life made me feel encouraged and supported. It reminds me that they look out for their students and will help them when they need it.”
Abby worked hard to make her asynchronous learning opportunity successful, and she kept it up for the rest of her time at Agora. She also leveraged the flexibility of her schedules, personalized learning models and the way teachers always made themselves available to discuss goals, assignments and other needs. All these things allowed Abby to work ahead of her grade, have a job while being a student and open up more time for her family and socializing. Her approach and achievements through Agora demonstrate that nothing comes “for free,” but if you recognize opportunities and take what is there for you, you can achieve anything.
“I was young and impressionable when I started at Agora, and this school has molded me into the person I am today. Now, as I embark on life after Agora, I am very excited about this new chapter in my life and all the adventures it will bring.”
As for that chapter, Abby has ambitious goals to one day write and direct her own movies and start her own production company. She’s well on her way as a student at Full Sail University’s accelerated program for digital cinematography. After this program, she plans to work at a production company and possibly apply for a film internship in Pittsburgh. We have no doubt Abby will make her dreams a reality and look forward to seeing her name in the credits on the big screen one day soon!