Agora Architects: Part I

March 5, 2024 1:29 pm

Celebrating the people whose legacy spans our history and continue to define our future.


Agora architects are dedicated to the lifelong learning that defines who we are and what distinguishes us from other schools. We are proud to designate seven staff members as “Agora architects” of our students, families, and the whole of our school community. These seven individuals have been with us for all, or nearly all, of our 18-year history—guiding every student that has “come through our doors,” establishing our foundations, and building our capabilities to make us who we are today. Moreover, they continue to commit to the Agora Difference, paving the way to a wonderful future.


The impact these architects have on our school, our lives, and an elevated standard for providing educational excellence is something well worth celebrating! It’s our pleasure to help you get to know them better in this three-part series. They proudly welcome you into their lives and share their stories to further strengthen their connections with each of you and uphold their commitments as architects of Agora!


In part one of our series, we get to know architects, Holly Allen, High School Assistant Principal and Dan Feldhaus, Director of State Testing.


“Eighteen years ago, I applied for and landed the job at Agora and have never looked back. Agora has been a huge part of my life, I believe in what Agora can do for Pennsylvania students, and I’m committed to helping the school grow and improve, taking our students to new heights!”



Holly’s journey to Agora began when personal computers—still very much considered the “wave of the future”—were really starting to enter into people’s homes. Eager to ride that wave, she and her husband enrolled their three sons in cyber school. Holly took a job teaching 5th grade with the school, then one year later learned of a start-up cyber school called Agora. She wanted to be in on the ground floor of what she saw as a promising new school and approach to learning and understood the opportunities for career and educational impact Agora offered. She followed that desire through the application process, was well received and has been with Agora ever since.


What has inspired you to stay with Agora for 18 years?

I love the interaction I have with the Agora community. Everyone from staff to students makes my work incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. This makes the business end of it—those unavoidable busy and stressful days—very worthwhile. Agora has been part of my life and my family’s life for 18 years. I owe it to Agora to give back based on what I have learned by working here. It is what I gratefully and always call my “peach of a job!”


What is your day-to-day philosophy as an Agora architect?

To remember what Agora has meant to me and pay it forward. Every day I try my hardest and do my best to do what is asked of me. I also remember what drove educational success for my sons—developing skills in a home environment that was natural for them and a strong rapport with their teachers. I work to ensure this for everyone in the Agora community so we can take our students to new heights.


What do you consider a notable growth point for Agora over the years?

The family coaching department, which makes us unique among cyber charter schools. The family coach program started with parent educators. We saw how successful it could be, and how much it empowered teachers to build their instruction on students’ strengths. Family coaching has grown into something special and powerful.


What one or two opportunities do you feel make Agora stand out?

Being able to offer the asynchronous privilege is a definite game-changer. So is the way our clubs have taken off. The 30 clubs we now have in high school offer students a range of support—from preventing dropouts to development of leadership skills and preparation for life after graduation. I love how our clubs have been interacting with and supporting one another which extends the benefits of student participation even farther!


What is the number one way you feel you’ve made the #agoradifference in the lives of your students?

By taking care to form real relationships with students who’ve come up through the ranks. There is a strong bond between Agora faculty and students, who look at us as their extended family. They want to “take us with them after graduation.” Because of what we teach them and the ways we nurture them to grow and achieve, students do carry us with them through life.


“When I started, people would give me a hard time that teaching from home was easy and not a real job. As everyone knows this is not the case. We may work at a distance, but we are closer to each other than a lot of brick-and-mortar schools. Agora builds tighter relationships than you may think.”



The dynamics that brought Dan to Agora nearly 18 years ago, not coincidentally, had to do with family. While teaching at a private school he yearned to have more time with his sons. Teaching from home would allow him to do that. Although he initially thought the cyber school route would be a “step down” from teaching at a private school, his dedication to his family—as well as a level of intrigue for being part of what was, at the time a relatively new education model—inspired him to apply to Agora. He was pleasantly surprised that it was far from a “step down” and happily set straight the “rib ticklers” who insisted it wasn’t a “real job.” Dan has been with us ever since!


What has inspired you to stay with Agora for such a long time?
At Agora, it’s a family thing. There are such good connections, loyalty, and comfort here. We’ve been together through the ups and downs, challenges and the growth. In the beginning we had a learning curve and leaned in heavily to support each other. That support hasn’t changed. I never want to leave this family!


How have you seen Agora over the years?

When I was first introduced to the staff, we all huddled in one classroom, but each year that room got bigger and bigger. We had 20 staff members and 200 students when we first opened. Now we have about 600 staff members and well over 5,000 students!


What is your day-to-day philosophy as an Agora architect?

My philosophy is driven by those early years when our small staff did everything and teaching was just a part of it. We’ve grown so much in our support services that teachers can teach! The work that I do enables teachers to focus on their students, so I strive every day to make sure that happens.


Why do you feel Agora stands out from the rest?

Because everyone here is invested in education, our students, and their future. This makes for a truly better educational process.


Do you have an #agoradifference story about impacting the lives of students?

One that stands out is Darian Kiger. Once a student at Agora, she is now a teacher with us. She could have found a job anywhere but seeing her come back “home” to teach at Agora was awesome.


Be sure to enjoy parts two and three I our Get to Know Your Agora Architects series, featuring 5 more Agora legacy staff members!