Dr. Allyson Roberts first joined PALCS in 2005 as a music teacher when the school was just starting out and when the Center for Performing and Fine Arts (CPFA) was a mere idea. Now Dr. Roberts is in her 14th year at PALCS as the music department chair and student academic advisor at CPFA, a Doctor of Music Education and Pedagogy, holds a National Certification in Music Education and teaching piano, and is going to be begin her 24th year of teaching music. Dr. Roberts recently had an article published in the July 2018 issue of the Christian Chronicle.
Born and raised in Oceanside, Long Island, New York, Dr. Roberts came to PA in 1987 to sing/tour with a Christian band called “Sonrise.” She met her husband on the summer tour in 1988 and never returned to NY to live. Dr. Roberts and her family currently reside in King of Prussia and have 2 incredible grown children who are PALCS CPFA alumni.
Dr. Roberts always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She began teaching music in 1992 at a small private Pre-K-8 grade school in Norristown. When she was there, she took on teaching every music class the curriculum offered, including chorus, general music, band, pre-school music, and more. She found herself exhausted and burned out and knew she needed to make a change.
After doing some research, she found PALCS. After meeting with Dr. Hanak and other employees, she found they were, “the all-around nicest and sincerest people I’d ever met, there was no doubt I needed to join the team.” Dr. Hanak’s vision of a performing arts component to PALCS was fascinating to her. Dr. Roberts started at PALCS on April 19, 2005 as PA Leadership’s very first cyber music teacher.
The day after starting as a cyber teacher, the current PALCS Director of Academics and Director of the Center for Performing and Fine Arts, Mark Allen, was also hired. “Once I met Mark Allen and listened to him speak on what CPFA was to become, I knew instantly that I had to work for him,” she exclaimed. “I went on a day trip with him and several cyber teachers to visit the Lehigh Valley Center for Performing & Fine Arts, which was a lovely facility on which the current Center for Performing & Fine Arts was modeled after.”
Dr. Roberts helped the first PALCS graduating class by performing for 42 graduates and helped create a tradition of graduation ceremonies that we still use today. Performing for PA Leadership’s graduations is always the highlight of her year, and teaching cyber music was a gift to Dr. Roberts. She explained that she became a stronger educator because she had to type out everything she was saying.
Back in 2005, PALCS didn’t have all the technology that is available today, such as Zoom, Canvas, and Moodle, which build today’s PALCSchool. This challenged Dr. Roberts to really think about what she wanted her students to learn. “One day while teaching 4th grade music online, I decided to ask Director of PALCS IT, Mark Murray (who is one of the smartest individuals I’ve worked with) to help me insert a video to show my students how to play a soprano recorder. It was history after that. Now we couldn’t imagine NOT using any videos or live lessons,” Dr. Roberts said.
She even credits PALCS and online teaching as being a crucial element to my successful on line Ph.D coursework. “Because I was VERY well-versed in the online community, I was able to transition from online teacher to online learner much better than my colleagues.”
Dr. Roberts is the music department chair, among several other roles at CPFA. She teaches Piano Keyboard, AP Music Theory and serves as an Academic Advisor. She teaches CPFA courses both on-site at the CPFA building in West Chester as well as CPFA courses online. “I teach piano online to some INCREDIBLY talented students and I try to stay connected to them by meeting every week, asking how their lives are and just getting personal with them,” Dr. Roberts explains, “You can’t be an educator without being personal. The students need to know us in order to connect. We *MUST* be willing to let some of our guard down to be effective! I also try to remember birthdays, special holidays and I also email their parents with progress.”
Regarding CPFA, she passionately said, “The Center for Performing & Fine Arts program has transformed SO MANY LIVES. We truly prepare students for college and professional life. The hybrid learning environment has taught the students how to be successful in the real world, balance everything that comes their way and it is my hope that PALCS will maintain its flexibility scheduling to allow students to pursue their passions.”
As advice for any families or students looking to make the switch to an online education program, Dr. Roberts encourages students and their families to trust the teachers and the administration, while also being understanding that their students may make mistakes along the way. “Let them figure this out with your watchful guidance without hovering over them–resist the urge to over-parent. Don’t ever, ever do ANY WORK FOR THEM. Be involved but not disengaged. Find the balance, hang in there and seriously–have trust in us,” she encouraged.
When not teaching at PALCS, Dr. Roberts favorite things to do mostly involve music, as well as teaching 4 aerobic classes a week, and spending as much time as she can in Virginia Beach, where she hopes to retire to one day. When it comes to her favorite color, she says the brighter the better, but in regards to her favorite food, she can be very picky.
What a wonderful asset and educator Dr. Allyson Roberts has been to the PALCS community. We are so proud and honored to have her on our team!