Mr. Peter Mysels teaches high school U.S. Government and the History of the Holocaust at PA Distance Learning, focusing on how these subjects and the lessons learned will guide his students to be active and successful individuals in the world around them. His journey began at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, majoring in secondary social studies education, where he knew that teaching was his true calling in life.
Soon after graduating from Duquesne in 2016 with a secondary social studies, secondary English, and Instructional Technology Specialist certification, Mr. Mysels joined the team at PA Distance which he now calls his family.
Mr. Mysels is, and always has been, passionate about everything he does and his role as a teacher is no different.
“My job as an educator is to teach the content in the best way that I can, and to do that, in my opinion, is to be passionate and care about it,” he said. “Teaching is what I love. The content is there to help me guide my students and instill in them the value of becoming the best versions of themselves” he added.
While teaching was an obvious career choice for him, social studies was also a clear choice, too.
“In my mind, social studies is the content area where I have the best opportunity to engage and motivate students to care about each other, themselves, and the world around them and to help them understand the impact they have as individuals,” Mr. Mysels explained.
Mr. Mysels is dedicated to making his classes unique, interesting, and engaging, encouraging his students to wonder, question, and analyze, while always keeping them in mind when designing lessons.
“I create cyber escape rooms a lot, which really brings the learning to life for my students. The students examine a scenario and, using different primary sources and evidence, work as a team to crack the codes and escape from that situation. They absolutely love it,” he shared. “The scenario is always connected to the topic that I’m teaching and they are developing analysis and peer collaboration skills.”
Mr. Mysels is adamant about connecting his lessons to real-life. Specifically, in his Government classes, Mr. Mysels focuses on more than just writing papers and taking tests. He creates lessons that help the students connect to the world around them.
“Many of the projects and assessments I design have a greater purpose involved in it,” he said. He says that he doesn’t want his students to just take a test or write an essay, just to have it graded and thrown away afterwards. He wants his students to care about the content and apply that knowledge to things in their lives.
“In my U.S. Government classes for example, while learning about Congress and the Legislative Branch, we write letters to our state representatives. The students think of ideas of laws that would benefit their community, state, or the entire country, conduct research on the topic, determine their representatives, write their letters, and mail them out,” he explained.
This spring, for his History of the Holocaust classes, Mr. Mysels plans to have his students participate in The Butterfly Project along with thousands of schools around the country.
“The Butterfly Project organization will send us a kit with partially fired clay butterflies and glaze,” he explained. “I will then send the butterflies home to my students along with an identification card of a real child, and their story, that did not survive the Holocaust.”
After each student glazes their butterfly the way they like, they’ll send them back to Mr. Mysels. With the help of PA Distance art teacher, Ms. Sorce, the butterflies will be fired in a kiln, making each colorful design, permanent.
Serving as a living memory for each life that was lost, Mr. Mysels plans to create a display here at the PA Distance office using each and every butterfly.
“It’ll be a part of a greater project within the entire country,” he added, noting that pictures from schools from around the country will be published on the organization’s website.
Mr. Mysels is no stranger to the common misconceptions that people often have about cyber schools. People believe that in the absence of a physical classroom, the quality of the teaching suffers. Mr. Mysels couldn’t disagree more.
“If you care and are passionate enough, it doesn't matter where you are,” he explained.
The quality of education at PA Distance is equal to that of traditional schools if not better, Mr. Mysels explained. He strongly believes that PA Distance is different for many reasons, but the attention that the teachers give to each student stands them apart from the rest.
“The care we have for the kids in class and for them to be successful is something I've never seen anywhere,” he noted. “I really do believe that we have some of the best teachers that I’ve ever worked with, here,” he explained with a smile.