Business Technology teacher, Ms. Susannah Azzaro, has been teaching for almost 30 years, beginning her journey in 1992 as a high school English teacher in Virginia. She later moved to Ohio, where she became involved in technology integration for local schools. She moved back to Pennsylvania and got her Business Technology certification while working at a variety of educational institutions, including time teaching at another cyber school.
Ms. Azzaro earned her master's degree in secondary education at West Virginia University after completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati. She also has earned her PA Certifications in English for grades 7-12 and Business Technology for grades K-12 giving her the tools and experience needed to teach at PA Distance.
For the upcoming school year, Ms. Azzaro is excited to begin her role as a member of the new PA Distance Computer Science Team as the 7th-grade Computing Ideas and 8th-grade Web Design teacher.
Alongside Ms. Azzaro is High School Principal, Ms. Crooks, Business-Technology Teachers, Mr. Gates, and elementary school teacher, Mr. Hughes. As part of the PA Smart targeted grant, called CSforALL, Mr. Gates, Ms. Azzaro, and Mr. Hughes will participate in a four-part professional development session at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit to be trained and certified on best practices and skills for teaching the PA Distance computer science courses.
"The PA Smart grant has given PA Distance the resources and training to focus on building a comprehensive plan for computer science education in our school," Ms. Azzaro explained.
Ms. Azzaro's 7th-grade Computing Ideas course is the first computer science course introducing PA Distance students to the basics of programming. Students will learn to code and create a portfolio of projects they build throughout the course. With a unique focus on creativity, problem-solving, and project-based learning, the course also allows students to explore several essential computing topics using their creativity to help them forge an interest in a computer science career.
On the flip side, her 8th-grade Web Design course is a project-based course that teaches students how to build their web pages. Students will learn HTML and CSS and will create their live homepages to serve as portfolios of their creations. By the end of this course, students will be able to explain how web pages are developed and viewed on the Internet, analyze and fix errors in existing websites, and create their very own multi-page websites.
"In these courses, students will gain skills in coding, explore career tracks they might never have considered, and equip themselves with the information and skills they need to navigate an increasingly complex world," Ms. Azzaro said. "I think these are fantastic course offerings that will benefit our students immensely."
Ms. Azzaro will also teach high school electives, including; Criminology, Hospitality & Tourism, and Introduction to Social Media.
"In my Hospitality and Tourism classes, we introduce students to different careers in this field. I also introduce my students to ecotourism and sustainable travel," she said. In the Live Learning Sessions, she focuses on the things that interest kids like travel planning and ecotourism.
"I get students that are motivated in my Criminology classes, and there are always a lot of good discussions," she said. "It's always been one of my favorite electives to teach. The same with Social Media."
"We study everything from the biological and psychological theories of crimes to punishment and corrections," she explained. "We also research and discuss different types of crimes."
"Criminology and Hospitality and Tourism are survey classes," she explained. "In these classes, we also highlight the career paths possible within each of these subjects and introduce opportunities that interest students."
"These classes help open students' eyes to new career areas, and then they can reach out to Career Education & Work teacher, Ms. Budd, to further pursue what interests them the most for their future," she said.
"I also try to integrate unique technology within each of my classes," she explained. "Mrs. DeRoner and Mrs. Heiles are helpful with that part."
"I try to switch things up to keep my students interested," she said. "I integrate Nearpod, Google Suite tools, FlipGrid, Padlet, and other online resources into my classes."
Ms. Azzaro notes that in the seven years she's been working at PA Distance, she appreciates the leadership and development opportunities she's had along the way.
"All of the teachers here are very dedicated and extremely professional," she said. "I've learned how to be the best teacher I can be here at PA Distance. We receive guidance and professional development opportunities all the time."
"If I am the best teacher I can be, that benefits my students each and every day," she added.