Before she came to CCA, Emily wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she graduated high school. But, after enrolling in the cyber school when she started high school, Emily has landed a couple of internship opportunities that have helped her determine her career path.
Emily’s mom, Sherry, credits the cyber school for allowing her daughter to pursue things brick-and-mortar students can’t do during a traditional school day.
“CCA provides her the flexibility to pursue different things,” Sherry said. “We’re not wasting money sending her off to college and she doesn’t have a clue of what she wants to do. It’s not just a pipe dream. She’s done it a little bit, and she knows.”
Emily, who lives in Dauphin County, has been enrolled at CCA for four years. She came to CCA in ninth grade because there were a lot of behavioral issues with students at her previous school, causing her a lot of stress.
“She was having a difficult time learning in that environment,” Sherry said. “There’s an extreme amount of support at CCA. They helped us through the whole process and helped keep her on track to where she needed to be.”
Emily arrived at CCA in the middle of the school year, and she said the teachers were instrumental in making it a smooth transition.
“I didn’t have any problem transitioning,” Emily said. “All of my teachers reached out within three days. They started me a little behind and made sure I was caught back up with the rest of the class.”
Through CCA’s Career Pathways program, Emily has done two internships working within the community and helping her find her passion.
“I have friends who were struggling to get internships, and I got two internships this year because I have that flexibility with my schedule,” Emily said.
Her first internship was working on a community service project with the Steelton Borough Police Department. She worked with Steelton staff to organize National Night Out, an annual community-building campaign that promotes partnerships between local police and the communities they serve.
Emily also has interned at the Harrisburg Christian Performing Arts Center in Middletown. The internship allowed Emily, who has been in theater productions for years, to learn about other aspects of putting on a performance. She has worked as a choreographer for a number of productions and recently served as a student director for “Winnie-the-Pooh.”
“I have been involved in theater for about 13 years now,” Emily said. “I have gotten to do all aspects of shows. It helps understand other roles. It’s a nice perspective to be able to see both sides of it all at once.”
Sherry said Emily would not have been able to work as a student director if she didn’t have the flexible schedule that CCA provides students.
“She had that opportunity because directing a show takes a lot of time,” said Sherry, who is the executive director of Harrisburg Christian Performing Arts Center. “She was able to work on that during the day.”
Sherry said CCA also provides a lot of flexibility for parents and learning coaches.
“The very first year that Emily was with CCA, I was working a job that wasn’t conducive to working with her,” she said.
Sherry’s husband, Randy, initially served as Emily’s learning coach.
“As our life changed, we were able to switch the learning coach role,” Sherry said. “He was able to work a full-time job and take care of Emily’s needs.”
Sherry has another daughter, Mia, who is a seventh grader at CCA. She said CCA has taught her daughters that they need to be accountable for their schoolwork and how to be more independent. Emily also feels being a cyber school student will help her become a better student in college.
“I would say you do have to be accountable on your own to go to these classes and teachers aren’t making you go to them,” Emily said. “You make that decision to go to those classes every morning. I have been at CCA throughout high school, and I know these classes are important because there’s new material that will help you.”
Emily performed in and was choreographer of HCPAC’s production of “Peter Panic.”. She also will be an assistant director of “The Little Mermaid” production, which runs May 8-10 and May 15-17. Sherry said there are other CCA students featured in the HCPAC productions.
Through her internship at HCPAC, Emily has worked with special needs students during a summer camp that the performing arts center offers. Sherry said Emily has a gift for working with special needs students, and it’s something Emily said she hopes to pursue as a career.
“With her internship at HCPAC, one of the neat things having her on the production teams is this passion she has for special needs students. We didn’t have people with special needs come here because we didn’t have someone with the heart to work with them.”
Emily currently is looking to get a job at a local school district as a paraprofessional working with special needs students.
“My goal is to be a special education teacher,” Emily said. “I want to work with special needs students every day. Overall, CCA has been a good experience and flexible for me and my schedule.”