Photo: The six Byler children who still live at home. Pictured from left to right: Cherise (future PALCS class of 2017), Micah (PALCS class of 2014), Rachel (PALCS class of 2015), Benjamin (PALCS class of 2016), Danielle (PALCS class of 2013), and Jonathan

The Byler family has eight children, all of whom have attended PALCS at some point during their schooling. Five Bylers are PALCS graduates and an additional student remains with us as a senior this year. We recently had the chance to speak to the Byler family about their students, what they are doing now, and how school choice and cyber school impacted their family. Elizabeth, mother of the Byler children, explained that her children have a wide range of interests and goals. Some have taken to traveling, some to higher education, but all of them seem to be following their own path in order to reach their individual goals.

  • Elijah, who graduated from PALCS in 2012, currently lives in Washington, D.C. where he is self-employed, offering interior remodeling and handyman services.
  • Danielle, who graduated from PALCS in 2013, has worked with Youth with a Mission in MN and had opportunities to work and live in South Africa and China. She is currently studying at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) where she is President of the Student Government Association, just as she was previously President of Student Government at PALCS during her senior year. Upon graduating from HACC, she plans to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business with a minor in Social Justice.
  • Micah, who graduated from PALCS in 2014, traveled throughout Germany and Czech Republic and has worked as a freelance videographer and photographer has plans to pursue a career in filmmaking.
  • Rachel, who graduated from PALCS in 2015, also worked with Youth with a Mission in VA, where she had the opportunity to work and live in Kenya and Tanzania. She is currently working full-time at Chipotle and is working toward a management position at her store.
  • Benjamin, who graduated from PALCS in 2016, is currently studying International Studies at HACC where he is President of the Christian Student Fellowship. He is also involved in Student Government and he too was President of Student Government at PALCS during his sophomore and senior year. Ben plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies with an emphasis on China, his interest in China stems from his two trips to there while at PALCS. He also recently had an article published in Commonwealth Sense, a publication by the Commonwealth Foundation located in Harrisburg, PA. During the fall of his senior year at PALCS, Ben had the opportunity to intern at the Commonwealth Foundation; this opportunity might not have been available to him if he went to a typical brick and mortar school. His article, titled “School Choice: Helping One Student at a Time”, explained why school choice is so important for students today, specifically his sister, Cherise, who is currently a senior at PALCS.
  • Cherise, who is currently a senior at PALCS, is looking forward to graduating this June. She has been a part of the School of Professional Studies where she is pursuing a certificate in Creative Arts and is currently looking into a Culinary Arts Program at Harrisburg Area Community College.
  • Anastasia and Jonathan were first enrolled in PALCS in 2009 and since then transferred to another charter school in Pennsylvania, where Anastasia has graduated and where Jonathan will be graduating in June of 2018.

The Byler family is from Dauphin County and they homeschooled their 8 children from 2000-2008. They enjoyed homeschooling, but as their children got older, they decided that it would be best for their children to have a new experience. Their oldest daughter suggested trying a cyber charter school, so Elizabeth started to do some research. They found PALCS and were intrigued that leadership was a focus of the program. They decided to enroll three of their students. They were so pleased with PALCS that the next year they enrolled all of their children and, as Elizabeth put it, “it has turned out to be a fabulous experience!”

Elizabeth believes that cyber school offers a great alternative to the many families who want or need another option, for whatever their reasons may be. “It allows students to become independent learners while still having support from teachers. It offers a flexible schedule,” she explained. When asked about any advice she would give to parents or students looking into cyber school, Elizabeth explained that getting involved in the school and community is key. “PALCS offers many opportunities to be involved. Our children have made a lot of good friends across PA by getting involved in things like Student Government, field trips (including international trips), “after school” chats, the School of Professional Studies, school dances, etc.”

Several of the Byler students went through the Leadership Program and all of them were involved with Student Government at PALCS. They have been have taken trips to Washington D.C., multiple trips to the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg, and even a trip to China. “Danielle, Rachel and Benjamin had the opportunity to go to China with Mr. Parris where they lived in host families, attended Chinese school, learned about the culture, learned to speak Chinese, climbed the Great Wall and got to do some sightseeing in and around Beijing,” said Elizabeth. “These are experiences that our children may not have had in a traditional brick and mortar school,” she continued.

The Byler family benefited from the dedicated teachers at PALCS who took the time to build connections with their students both in and out of the classroom. Specifically, when it comes to Mr. Pat Parris, “who has made a significant difference in the lives of our children, hands down,” said Elizabeth. Their family has also had some experience with the PALCS Special Education department regarding their daughter Cherise. “I can’t say enough wonderful things about how PALCS has helped Cherise,” explained Elizabeth, “they have encouraged her to be a self-advocate and she has really grown in many areas,” she continued.

We would like to thank the Byler family for sharing their story and experiences with us! We are proud to have the Byler family represent our school as a PALCS family. On behalf of all of us at PALCS, we would like to wish the Bylers and all of their students good luck in their future endeavors!