Meet Carey and Doug Manternach: two caring parents who want the absolute best education for their three children, Kaylene, Kaleb and Sammi. The Manternach family had previously lived in Illinois for seven years before moving to Pennsylvania, where they were faced with some challenges when it came to educating their children. Prior to PALCS, they attended their local district’s brick and mortar school in Luzerne County, which did not meet their students’ individual needs. In 2015, they chose to enroll in PALCS and will now be going into their 3rd year with us this upcoming fall. Carey recently shared her family’s story with us and all that has changed since choosing PALCS for the education of her children.
My husband and I choose to enroll our children in a cyber school after I had the opportunity to work 2 years in a brick and mortar. I was an aide shadowing students that needed extra support physically and academically. This allowed me to see just how students needed more support but were not getting it. I also witnessed too much seclusion and separation among the children. As I was helping the students I worked with, seeing them progress, I was witnessing my own children fall through the cracks with no help at all. I had comments from teachers to me when I helped with their homework, “I see you helped your daughter, where is she struggling?”. This statement mind-boggled me, as I was always raised with the fact that the teacher knew this and the parents asked the question. That was it… I had to take care of “my” children, “my family.”
We choose PALCS cyber school because of the many elective choices, the indication of how they would assist my 2 children with their IEPs, the Minecraft Club and that PALCS was not a large, large school. We wanted something more personal in a school. Fortunately for us, PALCS has pulled through on these incentives. Therefore, we are so happy to continue for a 3rd year at PALCS and for my son to adventure on to PALCS High School.
At first, I was nervous coming into PALCS with two of my students having IEPs. In their last brick and mortar school, my children did not receive the attention or individualized instruction they needed. They did not leave students behind, but instead dragged them from grade to grade even if they did not understand the content. My youngest daughter, Sammi, really struggled when we first moved from Illinois because she had been in a wonderful early intervention program, and when we came to PA, their program was very far behind Illinois’ program. Sammi used to be excited about school and when she understood what she was learning you would see the twinkle in her eye light up. She was excited to learn and would make real world connections and relate what she was learning in class to her real life experiences. Once we came to PA, we enrolled all three of our children at the local brick and mortar public school and I quickly saw the twinkle vanish from Sammi’s eye and realized that my children were not receiving the education that they deserved.
A New Love of Learning
Since enrolling my children at PALCS, I have seen some major improvements in each of their school work and attitudes towards learning. We are given the support we need and even have a speech therapist come to the house once a week to work with the children, it’s wonderful. The twinkle in Sammi’s eye is back and she understands the content and does not feel lost. There are days she still struggles, but I am here to support her and make sure she comprehends it. Kaleb and Kaylene are building wonderful relationships with their teachers and feel comfortable reaching out to them for help. Teachers will literally call them back and answer their questions. I have never heard of such individual attention within a public school, it truly is amazing. We are in control of their education and are partners with the school and teachers.
PALCS has been a joy for my children and I, compared to brick and mortar; no more being left out by other children, no more being left behind or dragged through, no more school buses being late or early, no more unruly influences that I would have to drill out of them. It’s just been a true blessing for my family. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work, especially the first year. BUT, it is totally worth the hard effort on the children, I, and my husband. I see it paying off in the bond with my children and I, the knowledge academically and the technical knowledge as well (which is so needed in this day). We especially like the fact that the children can see their homework grades immediately and are able to take the opportunity to determine what their errors are and correct it. This is truly the way to learn. We learn from our mistakes… I am thankful that PALCS shows the children this. Unlike brick and mortar, which you don’t see your homework grade for a week or more. At that time, the children don’t care or remember.
Socialization at PALCs is heavily encouraged. We enjoy the field trips, Middle School Connect, and Elementary Got Science. We try to take advantage of all these opportunities, we make it about once a month to PALCS, even though it is a 2 hour drive. The children enjoy seeing friends from their virtual classes and meeting/seeing their teachers. However, we would like to meet more families from PALCS in the NEPA area.
Kaleb is interested in pursuing fencing. He started this past year in August and has rapidly progressed. He also enjoys archery; this is a natural for him, although he doesn’t get enough time with this! Personally and academically, he thoroughly enjoys reading and learning about wildlife and history, which happens to be his favorite school subject, besides now liking coding. The teachers at PALCS have sparked his interest in History. He has benefited from PALCS by taking an interest in his grade, trying to achieve Honor Roll Status and hold it. He has also benefited from all the support with his IEP. Kaleb has trouble focusing and the PALCS special education department took the time to tailor his IEP to him as an individual. At one point he had a resource teacher that wasn’t working out and we called the school and they were on it immediately. No push back or politics, they just tackled the problem and put Kaleb’s needs first providing him with a new resource teacher. Here at PALCS, he has had one-on-one support enabling him to comprehend his mathematics. So far, his biggest future hope is to explore/travel the world. As far as career, he is interested in culinary school; he has always worked with his mom in the kitchen since 5 years old. To this day, one of his hobbies/activities is grilling for the family on his own Weber charcoal grill.
Kaylene is interested in anything with creativity and her hands… art, writing, gardening, music /clarinet. She is also into physical activities… she used to be involved in Back Mountain Youth Soccer Association for 5 yrs, and now loves to jog with her mom, ride bikes, roller blade and jump on her trampoline. From her interests noted above, you can see that her favorite subjects are Language Arts and Art. Since Kaylene has been with PALCS, she has benefited in the technical area. When she started, she struggled the most with the computer use for school, but now has proven to be the most computer savvy. I go to her quite frequently for help. As her brother, she too would like to travel the world. As far as career goals, she has so many dreams which gives her difficulty in narrowing them down. She would like to be an artist in painting, author and illustrator for children’s books, and work with animals. Being Kaylene is a go-getter, PALCS enables her to push to her dreams as much as she is willing. So much so, that she has been accepted to start in the CPFA, Center of Preforming and Fine Arts, next year. She and I are so excited to see the progress she will achieve in her artistic and musical capabilities!
Sammi is interested in staying young and with her mom as long as possible. She loves her family, her cat Sunray, biking, hiking, and taking family adventures. She has recently started a new hobby… taking lessons on violin. I would say that her favorite subject in school is Math. It is also one that she tends to struggle with as well. Her little face lights up when she “gets it”, she looks at it like a puzzle. For Sammi, the biggest benefit being at PALCS has been that she is not being dragged through school; she is learning. Through brick and mortar she didn’t understand how she got from point A to point B in most of her classes. They would not give her an aide and barely adhered to her IEP. Now she loves to have her mom as her “personal aide”. A true benefit of cyber school is to be able to discuss what she learns in class and to point it out in the everyday world.
All 3 of my children are enrolled in instrument lessons; Kaleb plays Sax and participates in a homeschool band, Kaylene plays the Clarinet and participates in the same band which is held in West Pittston, Sammi (as mentioned) has just begun playing the Violin.
Therefore, we, the Manternach Household, conclude that we are blessed and proud to have been with PALCS for two years and continuing. We thank PALCS teachers and staff that make it an enjoyable and challenging school. Most of all, we thank the Lord for opening the doors to make this possible. My husband once said, “no home schooling” and I, too, was leery as to give up “my time.” Now, we both are so happily pleased with the opportunity God has given ALL of us.
We want to thank the Manternach family for taking the time to speak with us and their unwavering support of the PALCS community. Our PALCS families are why we can do what we do and we would not be the same school, community, or staff without them all! We cannot wait to see what each of the Manternach family’s future holds!