The PA Leadership Charter School’s purpose is to provide an academically challenging, knowledge-based curriculum, individually designed for each child’s needs. PALCS will combine the benefits of a classical basics oriented education with the latest Internet / computer technology and the best teaching and learning education practices. By studying the lives and works of the great leaders in history, PALCS students will develop multi-cultural perspectives and a global awareness. PALCS will prepare students to be informed, responsible citizens with a global mentality who will succeed through mentoring leadership.
PALCS’s vision is to provide parents with an option for public education that tailors an educational experience to the unique needs of their child and allows them to receive that experience via the World Wide Web. The PALCS’s curriculum incorporates differentiated teaching within a strong academic environment. PALCS’s teachers are encouraged to develop their own curriculum, additional resources and alternative learning styles to ensure that each student experiences the pedagogy that is most effective for him/her.
PALCS’s policy requires that the parent or other Home Facilitator meet with the student’s teacher leader at the beginning of the student’s educational experience and once a year to review the Individualized Program of Instruction (IPI) developed by the teacher(s), parent and/or Home Facilitator for the student. Each student will receive instruction in music, art, foreign languages and technology as well as basic core requirements to ensure a well-rounded education.
Unique aspects of the school’s vision include:
- Individualized Program of Instruction (IPI) for each student that partners with the parent to provide each student an opportunity to learn taking into consideration his/her unique learning issues, schedules and motivations.
- Live teachers providing instruction in online classroom allowing students to attend class and do classwork wherever they can connect to the World Wide Web.
- Fully interactive technology that allows for live classroom instruction, live chat rooms and live individual instruction as well as timely responses to submitted assignments.
- Periodic conferences for students to allow them to excel in an area or discipline.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education established Legislation for Charter Schools in 1997. It was on October 1, 2002 that Dr. James Hanak submitted the charter for the PA Leadership Charter School, adhering to the new law geared specifically toward cyber charter schools.
After a lengthy application and approval process, the PA Leadership Charter School was granted a charter on January 23, 2004. The staff spent the next eight months organizing the school office in Frazer, PA, determining the logistics of acquiring, shipping and utilizing computers and materials, and preparing to begin a new school. On September 13, 2004, PALCS opened its (digital) doors to 253 students.
Initially utilizing a course management system provided by Digital Schooling, PA Leadership welcomed 458 new students to the school during the first year, closing the inaugural year with 711 students and congratulating its first graduating class.
On July 14, 2005, PALCS opened its Western Regional Office at the Pittsburgh Mills, helping put the face of PALCS in Western Pennsylvania. Over winter break 2005, the main Frazer office relocated to West Chester, enabling tremendous growth of faculty and staff to meet the growing number of students (1427 students by June 2006 – double the number from the same time the previous year).
Also in the 2005-2006 school year, PALCS introduced the University Scholars program (opened September 6, 2005) and the Performing and Fine Arts program (opened November 2, 2005). Both programs use a “blended” approach, where students can attend classes both live and through the Internet.
The 2006-2007 school year brought an additional 446 students, bringing the total to 1873 at the end of the third school year. In addition, a second office was leased in December 2006 in the western side of the state on Hite Road in Harmarville (north of Pittsburgh) due to the growth of Western Regional Office staff.
Early in the 2007 school year, the administration made the decision to change to Moodle as the school’s main course management platform. The change allowed for greater customization of the site, such that the school’s platform is now owned by PA Leadership. At the end of the 2007-2008 school year 1950 students were enrolled
The PALCS graduating class of 2009 consisted of 360 students – one hundred more students than the entire K-12 student body when the school opened. In the summer of 2009, the western region grew again, condensing its two smaller offices into one large Western Regional Center for all western faculty and staff at The Landings. PA Leadership was proud to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in the 2009-2010 school year.
In January 2011, PA Leadership opened a new building in West Chester, the Advanced Ideas Center (AIC). Due to the growth of our student body, and thus our faculty, the University Scholars program is now housed in the AIC, as are our elementary and middle school cyber teachers.
We began the 2011-2012 school year with nearly 2200 students; on October 18, 2011, we reached over 2300 students enrolled – a new milestone, at the time.
We’ve continued our consistent growth, reaching 2400 students on September 12, 2012. The 2012-2013 school year introduced the on-site School of Professional Studies program in the Pittsburgh office, which expanded to the West Chester office for 2016-2017, and is available virtually to all PALCS high school students.
Our school has continued to grow and we now have approximately 2700 students state-wide as of the 2016-2017 school year. We also officially adopted our own school learning management platform, PALCSchool, which incorporates elements of the Moodle and Canvas platforms. We hope to include your family in the exciting development of the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School!
PALCS’s educational goal is to prepare students to be creative, intuitive and analytical leaders with a firm understanding of the forces, leaders and thinking that have shaped world cultures. The curriculum will prepare students to be problem solvers both individually and collaboratively using the problem solving skills developed through a comparative interdisciplinary study.
PALCS will teach competency in reading, writing, mathematics, history, science and the arts. PALCS will prepare students to be successful whether they continue formal education or enter immediately into the work force. The strong emphasis on computer skills will provide the tools to address the unique career and global opportunities facing them in the 21st Century. PALCS will evaluate each student twice annually to ensure that he/she is meeting state standards.
PALCS’s objectives include higher standardized test scores, improvement in the quality of performance-based assessments, improved student attendance, high graduation rates and superior teacher training. Teachers will help design and receive regular teacher training. The final objectives are enhanced motivation, higher satisfaction and morale from students, teachers, parents and/or Home Facilitator and community.
Students who experience difficulty will be provided extra tools and tutoring to keep them current with their peers, coordinated by a guidance counselor. The continuous grading provides instantaneous feedback for parents on a student’s performance. Regular e-mail communications between teacher, parent and/or Home Facilitator provides instructional activities to focus efforts and overcome deficiencies in performance.
The goal of PALCS is to nurture the natural curiosity of children, to instill the joy of learning and to motivate students to a lifelong fascination with their potential and their world.
Through regular online conferences, students will connect with their peers and interact in their core subjects and elective subjects.