PA Distance offers a variety of opportunities to extend learning beyond the classroom, which often happens outside the hours of the regular school day.
In addition to the monthly themed virtual and on-site field trips, PA Distance gives each student the opportunity to join and attend after school clubs and an after school tutoring program.
Behind these efforts is PA Distance Math teacher, Mrs. Darcy Bible as our After School Program & Field Trip Coordinator. In addition to this role, Mrs. Bible is also involved in the Field Trip Committee comprised of a group of staff members who ensure that there are field trip offerings for students of all grade levels at various locations across the state.
“I am a lifelong learner and problem solver, so one of the things I really enjoy about my role is the cyclical process of utilizing data to make decisions on how to improve or make the programs better than the previous year,” Mrs. Bible explained.
This year, PA Distance offers a variety of clubs including; American Sign Language Club, Book Club, World Explorers Club, Art Club, High School Art Exploration Club, Student Leadership Club, Literary Magazine Club, Yearbook Club, Cooking Club, Stress-Free Students Club, and D&D Club.
So far, the school has also offered a variety of field trip opportunities both in-person and virtually. For example, for the 2019-2020 school year, PA Distance students have visited and toured the Elmwood Park Zoo, Pittsburgh Zoo, Zoobusters, and also had the chance to meet with live Animal Trainers at the St. Louis Zoo for Virtual Programs, Other field trips this school year included visits to the Country Barn, Roba Family Farms, Soergel Orchards, Giant Eagle Grocery Stores, Greater Pittsburgh Area Food Bank, Share Food Program office, Giant Grocery Store, Chester County Food Bank, the PA Farm Show, and even an electricity E-Lab program with a live virtual flight simulator from Wheeling University.
“My favorite part of this role is when a club invites me to their session as a guest! I have joined the World Explorer’s and tried different food and snacks from across the globe on camera with the students,” she said.
“I have joined Literary Magazine Club for the student-led showcases on their Writing Workshops and Stress-Free Students Club to participate in Yoga. I really love spending time with students in clubs where they are embracing their passions and in their comfort zones,” she explained.
All after school clubs and tutoring take place in the evenings, after 3:30 pm. Many of the clubs are held from 3:30 - 4:30 pm, however; based on student and teacher feedback, PA Distance is currently piloting different hours for a few clubs that are later in the evening.
Tutoring sessions are set up in the evening based on the individual needs of the student/family and typically last an hour.
The after school programs and field trips at PA Distance provide students with a safe space to socialize and learn about topics they are interested, outside of their schoolwork and guided curriculum.
“Students are creating, pursuing passions, immersing in other cultures, exploring new foods, learning to lead, and developing highly transferable skills that are invaluable,” she said.
“The stories shared by staff and families that attend field trips are nothing but positive testimonials of how much they enjoyed the opportunity to extend the learning and socialization beyond the classroom and computer,” she added.
Mrs. Bible encourages any student that is interested in joining a club or getting involved outside of the classroom to visit the Student Resource Center and sign up for an after school club or keep an eye out on the monthly field trip offerings.
As the coordinator for these programs, Mrs. Bible collects feedback throughout the year to learn what programs students like the best, what they dislike, and why. Using this information, she decides what to improve and what is working best for the future.
“I take a lot of pride in my roles as After School Program Coordinator and Field Trip Coordinator here at PA Distance Learning. While I love teaching math, I also believe that important learning happens through experiences outside the classroom too,” Mrs. Bible explained.
PA Distance students, who actively participate in our after school Clubs, took some time to talk about their experiences and what the being in a club mean to them. Take a look at what they had to say in the video below: