Entering his 8th year with PALCS, Mr. Christopher Stiles is now taking on the role of Principal for the PALCS University Scholars Program (USP). Mr. Stiles has his Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from Texas State University, his Master of Arts in International Management from Baylor University and his Education Certification from Eastern University.
Mr. Stiles grew up all around the world, as his father was a fighter pilot in the Air Force. He has lived in various states and countries including Germany, South Korea, Japan and Panama. He served as a volunteer on the border in Mexico, where he would bring in American citizens to work with immigrants. It was there that he met his future wife, a student at Cabrini University, who was originally from West Chester, Pennsylvania. They were married a year later and now have five children, one of whom is actually a student here at PALCS and is a member of USP.
Being a teacher was not Mr. Stiles’ first calling. At first he worked as a financial planner, mainly for retirees and the elderly. He held night courses at public schools for adults who needed help with their finances. It wasn’t until people who attended those informational sessions suggested he be a teacher that he really started to consider it. They encouraged him to continue to explore teaching because they could see how it came so naturally to him. He started off slow and began teaching a class on income taxation at a local community college. After leaving his class one night he was walking out and caught himself smiling from ear to ear, it occurred to him then and there how happy he was teaching; he thought that if he could be that happy teaching income taxation then that was his true calling. From there he completely switched careers and hasn’t looked back since.
Mr. Stiles first started working as a teacher at PALCS back in 2009, after meeting former USP Principal, Jane Ferris. She explained all about PALCS and the Advanced Ideas Center and Mr. Stiles knew he had to be involved. He was ecstatic to be asked to join the PALCS USP team of teachers, parents, and students working in unison to “forge students into scholars, and scholars into leaders.”
He began as a teacher at PALCS within the University Scholars Program, teaching AP U.S. History, AP U.S. Government and Politics, and a Gifted Seminar Civilizations course. Mr. Stiles’s favorite subject to teach is social studies, particularly U.S. History. Now that he is the Principal of USP it has allowed him to work with teachers, parents and students to “keep the magic alive” says Mr. Stiles, which is something that USP is dedicated to. Specifically his wish is to “keep creativity and intellectual curiosity alive within the program.”
Mr. Stiles was drawn to the cyber school environment and USP because of the many students in traditional schools who are gifted and need to be challenged, but often get left behind or ignored because the teacher has to concentrate on the average pace of the majority of the class. The teacher and school are not able to cater to the individual students needs or take the time to challenge them so the student and their work suffer.
“One of the very best features of PALCS and cyber education is the flexibility inherent in the educational model. This flexibility allows students to become more than they might have been if they stayed in a traditional school,” says Mr. Stiles. He goes on to acknowledged that there are great traditional public schools in the state of Pennsylvania, however the majority of those schools are still following a dated school model where students are still sorted by their age and put through the system like a conveyor belt. “Here at PALCS USP, and our sister program, the Center for Performing and Fine Arts (CPFA), students are not on a conveyor belt. Together with their parents and teachers, young people can craft an education that will meet their needs, and one that is tailored to their dreams,” He continues.
Mr. Stiles is honored to be an educator at PALCS and that he has the opportunity to teach students who he calls the “tip of the spear of their generation and the leaders of tomorrow.” His hopes for the future are to continue teaching within the program because it has made him truly happy as well as continue to improve USP by expanding the boundaries of the excellent gifted programs, educators and students.
PALCS is honored to have Mr. Stiles not only as a teacher but also as the new USP Principal. He has recently made it the finals of the Main Line Parent A+ Awards, which recognizes the best teachers and educational leaders in the area. You can vote for Mr. Stiles until November 16th [link is not longer active]. Please show him your support as we honor and celebrate his hard work!
This is the fourth post in our Meet the Principals series.