Mrs. Lauren Donofrio has been teaching since 2013 but, as of February 2019, is a new addition to the PA Distance family. At PA Distance, she teaches 9th Grade English and 9th Grade Honors English.
Mrs. Donofrio has always been passionate about literature and translating that passion into a career seemed like the best possible choice for her.
“My favorite part about teaching is getting to talk about my passion all day. I’ve always loved reading and talking about books. Now, I get to do that as a living which is amazing,” she said.
“I love getting to talk to the kids and getting to know them and share my passion with them. If I love a book and get really excited about it, I love to share that with them and hope that they are excited, too,” she added.
Mrs. Donofrio separates her English classes into two halves. The first half focuses on literary characteristics and analysis while the second half focuses on reading Romeo & Juliet and some non-fiction and career exploration.
Her English classes are unique because of her focus on career exploration and how the content comes into play in the real-world.
“I try to teach English in a way that connects to a little bit of everything, career-wise,” she explained. “If a student wants to go to a 4-year university, I’ll teach them things more geared towards that goal. If they want to go to a trade school, I’ll gear my lessons towards that, too.”
Mrs. Donofrio notes that a lot of people think that the only thing you can do with English is to be an English teacher, which isn’t true. Almost all career opportunities out there involve some kind of literary knowledge to carry out the job.
“If you have contracts to deal with while working in construction or working as a nurse and need to constantly read charts, there’s always aspects of literature in real-life careers,” she said.
During her Communications class, she also focuses on career preparation and teaching real-world skills. In the first half of the course, students learn about public speaking. In the second half, they learn how to prepare for a future career by learning how to write a resume and prepare for interviews.
“It’s very rewarding knowing that you made a difference in their life and that you helped them,” she explained. “I’ve already had a few past students contact me after graduating and starting college to tell me they’re using information that they learned in my classes.”
Although she is new to the cyber school setting, she agrees that PA Distance doesn’t lack anything that a traditional school has to offer.
Mrs. Donofrio also mentions that as a school, PA Distance is always adapting, innovating, and trying to make students’ experiences better each and every day using modern technology and new teaching techniques.
“I’ve only been here a few months and I’ve already learned more than I ever had at any other school,” she explained.
She also explained that she, along with the rest of her colleagues at PA Distance, is always available if a student needs help, which you might not find at other schools.
“I’ll answer student emails at 8:30 at night sometimes,” she said. “If a student needs help, I’m always an email or G-chat message away.”
A common misconception among people outside of the cyber school setting is the idea that students don’t get exposed to social interaction like they would at a traditional school.
“We do things all the time to allow students to interact with other students,” Mrs. Donofrio explained.
One way that PA Distance refutes this misconception is by organizing in-person field trips once a month throughout the state that are open to all PA Distance students and are based on a set theme for that month.
“You’ll see kids who are in class together and haven’t yet met in person, finally meet at these field trips and it’s really cool to see,” she described. “There’s a ton of ways to be social with other students, people just don’t know about it” she added.
When asked to describe PA Distance in one sentence, Mrs. Donofrio, said: “If you want a solid quality education from teachers who care and want to see you succeed, that’s what this place is.”
We agree wholeheartedly with Mrs. Donofrio because PA Distance is Where Teaching Still Matters.