An Extraordinary Pace: One Gifted Student’s Journey at PA Cyber
"I can work at a faster pace than others and I learn at a higher level than others my age.”
Years ago, 14-year-old Yasmine Khelil Cherfi knew she needed a change. Her traditional school was moving far too slowly for her, and she felt held back by the system. “I even asked my mom for extra homework to do after finishing my schoolwork because I wanted to learn more,” she recalls.
Today, she is part of the gifted program at PA Cyber—one of the largest online public schools in the nation, offering students in kindergarten through 12th grade the chance to learn online, with the support of highly qualified educators, and individually tailored curricula. The school’s Gifted Individualized Education Plan, or GIEP, is a special-admission track within the school that allows its students to take additional advanced classes. “Traditional schools move at the same pace for everyone, maintaining everyone at the same level even if they are able to move on forward. An online school – like PA Cyber – allows students to move forward at their own pace and move faster than others if possible,” Yasmine explained.
“A typical school day for me is the same as other students who don’t do online school: I wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, go to my classes, eat lunch, continue my classes, go to clubs, complete my homework, and go to extracurricular activities like sports… The only difference is that I can work at a faster pace than others and I learn at a higher level than others my age.”
And Yasmine truly makes the most of her time, participating in USA Middle Atlantic Swimming five days a week, karate, PA Cyber’s school clubs, and even tutoring kids from other schools every week. “While it sounds busy, I am aware of how to manage my time so nothing is an issue for me,” she describes confidently.
Another opportunity Yasmine has experienced through PA Cyber was participating in Global Education Club including a school trip that took her across Europe. A post-trip project earned her high school credits as well. “Each country showcased beautiful monuments and architecture, along with great people and amazing food. The students who went on the trip were absolutely amazing and we still keep in touch.”
Despite the independent nature of much of the learning at PA Cyber, forming connections and making friends is something that happens easily. PA Cyber hosts events through online sessions or through their regional offices spread throughout the state. There are well-attended extracurricular activities and field trips all throughout the year. In describing her social life, Yasmine tells us, “There is a common misconception that students in online school are lonely and have no friends, but I disagree! There is no place for loneliness at PA Cyber, and it’s easy to make friends at this school. PA Cyber is like family to me, from all the friends I’ve made to the special bonds I’ve created with the teachers and my academic advisor.”
The future is bright for Yasmine, who has been able to flourish in her own way, at “an exceptional pace” thanks to PA Cyber. “Not only is PA Cyber good for me, but it’s good for my family as well. They are proud of me to have achieved this much… I will forever cherish PA Cyber, who has helped me grow in a unique and precious way, allowing me to do so many amazing things.”
Learn about PA Cyber from the comfort of your own home by attending an online information session via Blackboard Collaborate technology – the same program PA Cyber uses for live classes. Choose a date and time that fits your schedule and register at pacyber.org/session
Photographs by Mary Goodman Photography. PA Cyber supports the Philly Family Community.