Back to School Guide

You’ve all seen the commercial where the parents are doing back-to-school shopping to the tune, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”  While it is meant to poke fun, essentially it is the best time of the year because there is nothing more exhilarating than learning something new. In this issue, we highlight some of the education opportunities available in our area from traditional schools to self-enrichment programs. 

21st Century Cyber Charter School

“21st Century Cyber Charter School is an excellent option for many students,” said Dr. Benjamin K. Ruby, Director of Education for 21CCCS. “We have a wide variety of students from high achievers who want to work at their own pace and not be held back, to students who are essentially semi-pro athletes who are training for events such as the Olympics, to students who were bullied at school or have a health issue.”  

“One of the best aspects of a cyber school is flexibility. We have scheduled live classes, but the majority of our classes are asynchronous, meaning that our school is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As long as there is an internet connection, a student can learn,” said Dr. Ruby. 

We are living in a digital age, and it makes sense that students are educated in the most forward-thinking way. “There are few jobs or careers that do not utilize a computer, and we make use of technology in our curriculum. Each student is issued a laptop, and we are in the process of phasing in iPads so that in the next three years all students will have one,” said Dr. Ruby.  

In addition to adding new technology, 21CCCS is embracing STEM curriculum with Project Lead the Way and is creating a student library. “We are also introducing weekly enrollment, which allows a student to enroll at any time,” said Dr. Ruby. 

21CCCS was founded in 2001 and has experienced 15 percent growth each year over the past four years. It is a nonprofit organization and is overseen by a board of four Intermediate Unit directors, local school district superintendents and parents. 

“Many of our students come to us by word of mouth because they’ve had good experiences,” said Dr. Ruby. “We have approximately 1,200 active students across the state of Pennsylvania, and we never want to lose the personal touch of students working one-to-one or in small groups with our instructors.”  

 A.W. Beattie Career Center 

“We are going to start the school year with more than 800 students, the largest enrollment in 20 plus years,” said Eric C. Heasley, executive director, A.W. Beattie Career Center.  “A number of programs are at enrollment capacity.” AWBCC serves nine area school districts—Avonworth, Deer Lakes, Fox Chapel Area, Hampton Township, North Allegheny, North Hills, Northgate, Pine-Richland and Shaler Area. New programs like Sports Medicine-Rehabilitation Therapy and Veterinary Sciences Technology continue to grow. “We have increased our instructional staff to meet the demand. Now we have two teachers who have experience in the veterinary field from care to major surgery,” said Mr. Heasley. AWBCC is consistently rated by the PA Department of Education as one of the top-performing Career Centers for high school students enrolled in post-secondary education, employed in their field of study or engaged in military services one year after graduation. “Our SkillsUSA and FCCLA students recently participated in national competitions and won a gold and silver medal this year,” said Mr. Heasley.  In addition, AWBCC offers Culinary Art; Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning; Health and Nursing Sciences; and Automotive Collision Technology. “We continue to have more jobs offers than students to fill them. Many of our students in the Building Trades-HVAC programs are gainfully employed in summer internships,” said Mr. Heasley. 

 The Providence Heights Alpha School was established in 1926 by the Sisters of Divine Providence. We continue to enjoy their leadership and guidance to this day as an independent, private, Catholic, co-ed day school. We teach children in PreK 4 to 8th grade in our Early Learning Center and our main building. Children in all grades enjoy a rigorous curriculum with a balance between the traditional and innovative. Students enjoy differentiated learning with a strong approach of handson experiences and enrichment and our 40-acre campus allows for outside classes. We cover all subjects from cursive handwriting to STEM technologies as part of our school day with a variety of afterschool activities being offered. Early and aftercare options are available for all grades. We encourage and welcome parent volunteering in a variety of capacities based upon interest and schedule and work hard to build a family atmosphere. Visit 

Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus Summer Series

Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus Summer Series in Richland Township kicked off its fifth annual run in June with events running through August. 

 Presenting live musical performances and a series of food-focused workshops, the Summer Series offers an unforgettable opportunity to experience music, fun and learning surrounded by the beauty of nature. At the center of it all is the Hilda M. Willis outdoor amphitheater, a one-of-a-kind performance space carved directly into the landscape. 

 To date, thousands of people have enjoyed events at the Eden Hall Summer Series. New for 2018 are food workshops from the Center for Regional Agriculture, Food and Transformation at Chatham University (CRAFT), including Gourmet Pizza, Intro to Brazilian Cuisine, Summer Shrubs, Dry-Curing Meat for the Home Chef, Seasonal Salmon, Sourdough Bread Baking and more. Please note that there is a cost associated with these workshops.  

 Events are free (unless otherwise noted) and open to the public.  
 Learn more at 

Heart Prints Center for Early Education
Heart Prints Center for Early Education is a private school offering Pre
school, Pre-K and Kindergarten programs. Located at The Regional Learning Alliance Building at 850 Cranberry Woods Drive, Cranberry Twp., Heart Prints strives to provide an early education community that is diverse, inclusive and closely connected to its families, local community, and the world. “In addition to our focus on developing the whole child, we emphasize connecting to the world through philanthropic projects. For instance, our children have baked dog treats and then have taken them to a local animal shelter,” said Julie Byrnes, Assistant Director. The mother-daughter team, Julie and Grace Byrnes, are joined by five other classroom teachers, a Yoga Instructor, Spanish teacher, and an Art Director to make a dynamic and highly qualified team. Enrollment for the fall is nearly complete, but Heart Prints also offers several other programs. Heart Print’s Story Time for children 18 months-5 years is held on Fridays from 11:15-noon on Fridays from September through May. Come Play with Me is a collaborative learning experience for toddlers 2-3 years old and their parents/caretaker. It meets on Fridays from 9-11 a.m. S.T.E.A.M. Club offers five afternoons of club programming such as Gardening, Chemistry, Explorers, Creative Arts and Cooking Clubs and is open to preschool and kindergarten children.  

Katie’s Clay Studio  

Most things in the modern classroom are screen-based and virtual; it’s important to remember that children are primarily experimental learners—they benefit enormously from 3-D, hands on, tactile lessons that integrate their body with their mind. Katie’s Clay Studio has never lost sight of this important reality, and we continue to design innovative programming to anchor kids’ learning in the real world. We specialize in diverse mediums that give expression to any creative idea so that our programs reach every student at every age, from those with special needs to those with advanced abilities, from day care centers to retirees. Katie’s Clay Studio runs classes for schoolaged students and adults alike, specializing in ceramics, canvas painting, clay, fibre arts, pallet painting and more. Our private studio room and helpful staff can be booked by schools, community centers, businesses and organization leaders by calling or emailing the studio. So, whether you’re a mom looking for a great after-school art class for your kids, a troop leader interested in the class for a new patch, a childcare center, or a retiree with a creative idea, we’re your neighborhood hotspot for all things creative. Let Katie’s Clay Studio provide stimulating enrichment for your students’ bodies and minds this school year—let’s get muddy! for more information.  

Ohio Valley Hospital (OVH) School of Nursing (SON)

 For more than 110 years, Ohio Valley Hospital (OVH) has offered a School of Nursing (SON) program for those who wish to obtain a diploma in the field of nursing. Their nursing program seeks to prepare students for a future in the field of nursing with a strong educational development program.The full-time nursing program accepts 50 students annually, and provides 10 full-tuition scholarships based off pre-admission test results. The nursing program is sure to meet the individual needs of students as well as the surrounding community, with faculty who have developed educational programs based off a set of strong beliefs and values. OVH’s School of Nursing program offers several courses, such as: Fundamentals I & II, Medical/Surgical Nursing I, II, & III, Nursing of the Developing Family, Mental Health Nursing and Nursing Leadership. The campus is equipped with classrooms, nursing and computer labs, conference rooms, a library, faculty/staff offices, a student lounge and an auditorium. During clinical rotations, students can gain experience at OVH’s medical-surgical units, critical care suite, emergency department, post-anesthesia care unit, outpatient surgical service and Geropsychiatric Unit. The 19month program is affiliated with La Roche College. Upon graduation and after successfully passing the NCLEX exam and obtaining a Registered Nursing License, OVH students are able to enter La Roche’s RN-to-Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.To learn more about Ohio Valley Hospital’s School of Nursing program, visi 

 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School  

OLSH welcomes all students, and while we are a Catholic school, we have students from a variety of faith backgrounds. Students come to OLSH from 30 different school districts, including Cranberry and other north suburbs. The OLSH faculty and staff is comprised of dedicated and talented individuals who strive to provide challenging and innovative educational experiences. They consider their work much more than a job; to them, teaching is a fulfillment of the mission of OLSH and the Felician Sisters. OLSH’s student-centered curriculum focuses on helping each student to realize his or her potential. Each department offers a variety of college preparatory level and honors/advanced level coursework, in addition to interesting and unique electives. OLSH AP Advantage Program – funded by a grant, this program features opportunities for AP and advanced course study. As the only school outside the state of Indiana to participate in the University of Notre Dame’s Teacher Investment Program, teachers of AP English, science, and math courses receive special training and resources to provide the opportunity for AP study to more students. Students interested in advanced courses not offered on site at OLSH have the opportunity to take online courses through Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth. The OLSH Writing & Learning Center is a university-style writing center where students can receive free tutoring and writing support from faculty or trained student peer tutors.  OLSH offers a variety of courses in STEM or STEAM areas and has increased course offerings in science and engineering in recent years. This year several teachers will be incorporating virtual reality into their classes with tools like Google Cardboard and augmented reality software. The school counselors will be implementing Naviance, a web-based college and career readiness program. Thirty new lap top computers and a cart were added this summer for student use. Security updates, made possible by a grant, include new security cameras and an updated online content filter. 

 Wexford Acting Studio

 Wexford Acting Studio prides itself on being a solid training ground for those who are serious about excellence in stage performance in plays, musicals, talent shows, Shakespeare contests and the audition process.  We provide students with the tools they need to be successful in the musicals and showcases which WAS mounts every fall, spring and summer. In-studio training equips our students with the skills they need to have successful performances in their own high school and community shows. Students look forward to participating in our highproduction-value fall show, and they enjoy their time in class where they learn the nuts and bolts of an actor’s trade.  We teach several acting techniques through exercises, games, improvisations, total immersions, dialect, scene and monologue work.  We also provide our students opportunities to participate in master classes.  Seasoned professional instructors provide each student with the skills needed to thrive on stage, all while having a fun time doing it.  Our studio program is unique in this area, and if you are looking for a real theater school that focuses on your growth as an actor/singer/dancer, be sure to check us out!   

CCA education innovations drive unique learning experiences 

 Innovations in education happen every day at CCA because we’re preparing students to be career ready, not just graduation ready.  

 CCA is a top, accredited K-12 public cyber charter school that provides a personalized education to all Pennsylvania students. 

 We turn the tired American educational model on its head. We don’t believe that children can be educated only by learning the same thing, in the same room, at the same time. 

 At CCA, education meets students where they are and lets them work at their own pace. Our individualized courses are designed to match each child’s interests, skills and educational needs. Students can learn at anytime from anywhere with a free laptop from CCA. 

 At CCA, students learn through virtual lessons that can be accessed in real time or viewed later, workbook projects, conservatory programs and more. CCA helps students identify and pursue passions that lead to family sustaining careers. We challenge students to think about what they want to be doing when they’re 25 or 30, and we help them explore those aspirations.  

 We offer hands-on learning experiences, such as visiting a helicopter trauma unit at an airport or observing an open-heart surgery, veterinary operations, a police investigation unit, radio or TV studio. Students interact with professionals in the field and learn what really goes on behind the scenes. CCA also facilitates internship programs with local businesses so students can truly experience any career field that is of interest to them.  

 One of CCA’s newest projects is the construction of a 6,100-square-foot interactive, integrated agriculture lab called AgWorks at CCA located at our Capital Campus and Family Service Center in Harrisburg. Integrated agriculture relies on fish to fertilize and provide nutrients to plants, fruits and produce, allowing the plants to grow and be harvested more quickly than in traditional farming. Students, with guidance from CCA teachers and professionals in the field, will learn how to operate the living laboratory, which can produce around 3,000 plants with the help of more than 400 tilapia, koi and prawn. The operation provides insight into careers in agriculture and conservation, STEM-related fields, logistics and business, marketing and hospitality. 

 CCA also will take the lab and other learning to students across the state with its mobile integrated agriculture lab and two fully equipped mobile classrooms. Traveling statewide the entire school year, the mobile classrooms offer activities including bird and astronomy observation, book fairs, water and soil testing and art exhibits. 

 CCA’s innovations ensure that our students interact with the real world and learn skills to make them career ready. It’s a personalized partnership between us and our students and families to ensure students are prepared for life after high school, whether that’s continued education, a job or military service. 
No matter where you live in Pennsylvania or what sparks your child’s interests, CCA can be the perfect fit. Learn more or enroll free today by visiting or calling toll-free 844-590-2864.