Philadelphia Family Thrives on Agora’s Confidence in Every Student.

April 18, 2024 11:19 am

Great Expectations! Philadelphia Family Thrives on Agora’s Confidence in Every Student.


When asked what makes the biggest difference for her son at Agora, Stacy Phillips doesn’t hesitate. “The best thing that has happened this year is that everyone at Agora has high expectations for my child. Unlike our other experiences, Agora never assumes Beckett can’t succeed in school, then not support him. All his Agora teachers presume competence and implement everything he needs to believe he can do it and be successful.”


Twelve-year-old Beckett, who enrolled in Agora as a sixth grader this year, is Stacy’s second child to join the Agora family. Stacy enrolled her eldest at Agora after a short time at Central High School revealed anxieties that continued to escalate at the Philadelphia school.


“Sommer was top in the class from K through eighth and a big fish in a small pond. But the transition to Central was significant—there were many people thinking they were big fish. It was overwhelming for my child, and we saw anxiety we didn’t know existed. There was depression, fear of self-harm, and physical illness. My husband and I knew we needed an alternative. Agora was an ideal fit and provided a great experience through graduation.”


The ways members of the Phillips family uniquely experience and appreciate Agora weave a story full of powerful lessons for any family considering—or wondering if they should consider—cyber charter school.


Bryon Phillips—Sometimes you must have faith and give things a chance.

When Sommer enrolled at Agora, it was understood that Stacy’s husband—who worked nights at the time and was at home during the day—would be instrumental in educational oversight. He was hesitant at first about the validity of transferring from a prestigious school like Central High. He worried that Agora’s curriculum wouldn’t be challenging enough and was concerned about losing the socialization factor. However, he put his trust in the decision and it paid dividends.


“Once Bryon observed the change in Sommer, the types and rigor of the classes, and that working ahead was possible and encouraged, he became confident in our decision to choose Agora, said Stacy. “It also helped that we took advantage of Agora Days Out, other in-person opportunities, and that Sommer even attended prom!”


Stacy—Stand firm in your convictions.

Having taught in the Philadelphia School District for a decade, Stacy, a Special Education teacher, is a supporter of brick-and-mortar schools. She has seen first-hand the system work for many students. However, when both her children experienced escalating challenges in brick-and-mortar schools, she had the openness of mind and mother’s heart to find a better educational path. Criticism from her teacher peers tested Stacy’s conviction, but she stayed the course.


“I am a proponent of brick-and-mortar schools, but as a special ed teacher I understand the importance of meeting students where they are—a philosophy benefitting both my children,” said Stacy. “Agora allowed Sommer to stay on course and graduate and get a quality education from home where they felt safe. I enrolled Beckett within two days of asking Agora all my questions about emotional support programs. The setting was the perfect fit.”


Sommer—Keep all your doors open.

Sommer’s experience switching from elementary school to high school could be considered traumatic and brought intense emotional and physical challenges. But the family never tried to “block out” the educational journey that brought them to Agora. They focused on their priorities—feeling safe, graduating on time, being challenged by classes, remaining social, and achieving emotional and physical wellness. Agora provided the support and programs necessary. However, support also came from building on past experiences and maintaining relationships formed in her brick-and-mortar school.


“Sommer already had a wonderful group of friends and Agora didn’t hinder any of that,” said Stacy. “Friends came over after school, Sommer continued a job, and Agora Days Out and other opportunities continued the socialization. Academically, AP and honors classes allowed learning at the right pace and space. It worked well for us.”


Since graduation, Sommer attends the Community College of Philadelphia and has ambitions to transfer to Temple University to study anthropology.


Beckett—Never underestimate a child’s ability.

When it comes to Beckett’s story, Stacy’s message to parents of children with emotional needs is loud and clear. “Don’t underestimate your child,” said Stacy. “Forget that notion that your child can’t go to college. So many options exist. Explore until you find the right one.”


Three months into his kindergarten year at a Philadelphia charter school, Beckett began to experience issues. The school told Stacy they did all they could to educate him, but now they needed him removed. Even though he had started with an Individual Education Program (IEP), other issues—including speech and behavioral problems—escalated quickly. As a special education professional, Stacy knew all the right questions to ask, the assessments that needed to be performed, and their rights as parents to get support. With diagnoses of oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, anxiety and depression, Beckett attended an Approved Private School (APS) through 5th grade. But the emotional challenges and the bullying became too much. Moreover, he could read at a 10th-grade level but was being educated as a second grader.


“At this point, I immediately thought of Agora and explored their capabilities for education and emotional support. At Agora, he’s thriving. He has a social emotional wellness class and a wonderful Family Coach, Michael Reeves, who stays connected. Beckett is learning from home where he feels safe—and it’s the complete opposite of APS. Plus, he’s in classes with same-aged, typical students which is huge, he’s picking up good behaviors by being with them.”


Know your options and make your choice with great expectations!

The Phillips’ story demonstrates that receiving education from home where there is a feeling of safety is highly conducive to learning. Stacy, who is also a member of Agora’s School Improvement Committee, is extremely grateful they live in Pennsylvania and can attend Agora.


“Everyone deserves options for where their children go to school, and people need to realize that the least restrictive environment isn’t always the right one. Agora produces kids who are well educated and thriving socially and academically. I’m proud to use my voice to help the families in our area who need support understand their options and find the right fit.”