Agora Cyber Charter School

Offers Continuous Education for PA Students Grade K-12  

Agora Cyber Charter School, an online public school established in 2005, has delivered an uninterrupted education to Pennsylvania students grades kindergarten through 12 for the last 16 years. The continuous educational choices begin with kindergarten and extend to graduation from the 12th grade.  

 Elementary School  

 Elementary school principal Jansen Hornbake stated, “Agora’s elementary program builds a strong foundation of skills as students transition from learning to read to reading to learn. The students develop a deep conceptual understanding of math skills that lay the groundwork to success in their later years of schooling. Students who begin their journey here at Agora are able to shine as this learning progression continues through each school year.” 

Students in kindergarten through grade 2 will be assigned one teacher for all core subjects. However, in grades 3 to 5, students will work with a team of teachers who each teach a specific core subject. Agora elementary teachers use their talents to develop and execute engaging, academically challenging lessons to meet the diverse needs of the learners in the classroom. Agora teachers and staff work alongside students and Learning Coaches to develop warm, caring learning environments where students can take academic risks in a safe space. It is our goal each day to help students achieve their potential. 

Middle School  

Agora’s middle school is the grade span in which youngsters are most transformed throughout their academic career. They enter middle school as children and leave as young adults. Bridget Kozar, middle school principal stated, “We help students become independent with their learning and take responsibility for their education, as they continue to find their unique strengths and encourage them to flourish as they move towards high school.  

In middle school, Agora students are offered a standards-based curriculum in four core content areas: history, science, math and ELA. In addition, students may have the opportunity to participate in teacher-led electives of music, art and physical education. Agora’s goal is to prepare students for life beyond the classroom, so middle school students are exposed to a career-readiness course as well as a computer-literacy course. 

High School  

The high school team has designed courses and instruction to engage the 21st-century learner with multiple units, lessons and activities that allow for differentiation, practice, exploration and assessment of learned skills. Parents can easily support their students by accessing the student calendar, which clearly illustrates assignments, due dates and grades in one easy-to-use tool designed to improve student focus. 

Agora’s high school credit-based program values a well-rounded individual and believes that students who study the arts as well as history, mathematics, science and language arts have the best chance to be competitive members of their community after graduation.  Agora students are offered a variety of career paths to post-secondary life. In addition to the core subjects, students have the option of choosing from 80 electives, 19 AP courses, and 14 honor courses. Destinations Career Academy offers industry-relevant pathways in Healthcare, Business and Information Technology and are complementary courses to the traditional high school program.  At Agora, we support your student in charting a new course. Whether it is a career pathway or college prep, we have courses that will guide them on their path to success,” explained high school principal Jeff Miller. Eighteen Agora school counselors are on hand to assist students with their academic, social and emotional needs, to help them navigate high school and beyond.    

Agora Stands Alone 

A rigorous curriculum is delivered to all Agora students in real-time by PA-certified teachersLive classroom instruction provides students with an engaging education, while going to public school in the safety and comfort of their homes. Deciding which educational opportunity best fits a child’s needs is crucial, and Agora has spent over 16 years ensuring its online educational model allows each student’s needs to be met.  

Agora teachers incorporate a variety of options to differentiate and work with the range of skill levels that exist within the classroom. We believe that a student succeeds best when there is a strong partnership between home and school—one that thrives on communication. It is Agora’s vision to assist students in becoming lifelong learners. 

Agora’s enrichment programs span throughout all grades with the National Honor Society chapters available for grades to 12. Elementary and Middle School have Advanced Learners Programs, High School has 19 AP courses and 14 honor courses.  Agora’s student-driven programs and curriculums are designed to provide all students with the best educational options which will meet their individual needs.  

28% of Agora students have an IEP.  Upon enrollment the student’s IEP is immediately implemented, a review of the special education documents and curriculum-based measures are then completed. Following those processes a meeting with the family is conducted and the IEP is adapted to cyber education. Specially designed instruction and a standards-based curriculum are delivered by qualified staff to meet the educational, emotional and physical needs of all students.  

Unique to Agora are 83 family coaches who are the first point of contact to welcome the families to Agora and online learning. We refer to the family coaches as boots on the ground, as they are regionally located throughout the state.  They are the liaison between the school and the family and provide an extra layer of support to the student for a successful educational experience. The family coach also organizes social opportunities for the students. During the last year this was done online. 

Sixteen years of perfecting online cyber education has allowed Agora to offer robust schooling to any child in Pennsylvania who desires it, no matter the circumstances. Upon enrollment, each student receives a laptop, printer and all resource materials needed for online success. It takes a village to educate a student. At Agora from your first contact with the Enrollment Concierge, to the orientation and school advisersprincipals, teachers, family coaches, we all rally around your student with you, as an essential support, for a successful cyber education.  

 Register to attend the Virtual Open House and meet live with an Agora Enrollment Concierge, who will walk you through an overview of Agora and answer your questions at agora.org or call us directly at 844-462-4672.   

AHN Wexford Hospital Listened and Is Bringing to the Community

“Listening to others’ viewpoints may reveal the one thing needed to complete your goals” – D. Ridgley

The community’s voice became Wexford Hospital’s most important building block.

Based on how the community has embraced the AHN Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion since its opening in 2014, planners of the new AHN Wexford Hospital knew that patients desired to be treated in their community and not be forced to travel long distances to receive excellent health care. But they also knew something else – that the insights of those the hospital is being built for would be essential to ensuring that it truly meets the comprehensive health needs of the community. With that, the community’s voice became Wexford Hospital’s most important building block.

The new, 160-bed hospital along Route 19 in Pine Township, which has been under construction since its groundbreaking in August 2018, is scheduled to open to patients this fall.

“Right from the start, we placed an emphasis on listening to the voices of our community in designing this amazing facility,” said Allan Klapper, MD, President, AHN Wexford Hospital. “We engaged with every stakeholder, from our caregivers, to local emergency medical services professionals, to local community leaders and business owners, to those who will be coming to the hospital as either patients or visitors. The feedback was instrumental to the construction of the hospital and to a design that will deliver a world-class, patient-centered health care experience.”

AHN’s leadership listened to prospective patients and others on even seemingly minute details. “We have a community Patient/Family Council, and we regularly meet to get feedback and ideas on design elements and other services that will be offered at the hospital,” said Lisa Graper, Chief Nursing Officer, AHN Wexford Hospital. “What makes sense to us for something like interior signage or wayfinding, for example, may not work well from the perspective of those who visit or are admitted to the hospital. There have been many instances where the council’s feedback changed the direction of our plans.”

“We have also asked the council to provide feedback on important items like our patient and family handbook. They provide valuable feedback on content and design,” said Amy Cashdollar, Chief Operating Officer, AHN Wexford Hospital. “It’s through these kinds of collaborations that we will be able to bring to life an environment that is truly patient- and family-centered once the hospital opens.”

This design concept is at the heart of every amenity that will complement the clinical services offered at AHN Wexford, from the free parking in a connected garage or via valet, to a roof top serenity garden for those who need some quiet and fresh air, to the handheld controls that allow patients to control their private room’s lighting and temperature.

Local first responders have also been critical to the hospital’s design process. Recently, local EMS providers were invited onsite to reinforce the emergency department design, gauging how traffic would flow and the ease of access for ambulances. This ensures the design and construction is optimized to their needs.

The Wexford Hospital team also engaged Highmark Health’s human-centered design process – a team of experts who evaluate hospital design and function from patients’ and visitors’ perspectives to ensure it meets their needs.

“We looked at everything with these questions in mind – How do we improve or design differently to best serve our staff, patients, visitors and community? And, how do we design so as to provide the optimal patient experience and care?” said Cashdollar.

After the blueprints were finished for the hospital, the team created cardboard mockups of the various departments and patient rooms. “For instance, we had a mock ICU room, and we had the staff do a run through simulating routine and emergency patient care to make sure that everything worked safely and efficiently, and that equipment and other resources were placed exactly in the best position,” said Dr. Klapper.

One thing that wasn’t anticipated three years ago when the hospital was initially being designed was the potential challenges of a global pandemic. “The experiences of hospitals during this pandemic have taught us a lot about what works best in such an environment, and our mock-up of the future clinical spaces helped us refine design elements to ensure everything functions well with pandemic-related precautions in place,” said Dr. Klapper.

The new hospital will include a 24-room emergency department with specialized pediatric rooms, behavioral health rooms and a short-stay observation unit; state-of-the-art operating rooms with minimally invasive robotic surgery capabilities; advanced diagnostic and imaging capabilities; and an adult intensive care unit (ICU). The hospital will offer a range of surgical specialties, as well as advanced specialty care in cancer, neurology, cardiology, gastroenterology, rheumatology, endocrinology, orthopaedics and more.

Wexford Hospital will also offer comprehensive women and infant care including the only labor and delivery unit in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh, as well as advanced neonatal and high-risk pregnancy services and a Level II neonatal intensive care unit. “We will have one of the region’s most robust OB/GYN programs with more than 17 physicians on staff, providing a range of women’s inpatient and outpatient services,” said Dr. Klapper. Additional women’s services will include gynecologic oncology, urogynecology, reproductive infertility services, menopausal care, breast care and minimally invasive surgical care.

As a tribute to the community who has been so instrumental to the construction and design of the new hospital, residents and other stakeholders were recently invited to contribute to a one-of-a-kind mosaic mural that will grace the facility. The 7-foot-by-18-foot mural will be composed of tiles submitted by individuals and organizations featuring artistic renderings of family, health, wellness and the community itself. The tiles will be installed in the mural in the corridor connecting the Health + Wellness Pavilion with the new hospital. To submit artwork electronically and/or to sponsor a tile, visit: projectsnap.org/ahnwexford/.

“Our community members have overwhelmingly expressed how engaged they feel in the design and construction of our new hospital, and how appreciative they are that we are making such a meaningful investment in their community,” said Dr. Klapper. “We have been so warmly accepted by this community and can’t wait to provide everyone who lives in this region with an exceptional health care resource when these doors open later this year.” 

Solevo Wellness

By Janice Lane Palko

There are many medical marijuana dispensaries in the area, but there is only one like Solevo Wellness. Since 2018 when Solevo became the first medical marijuana dispensary in Allegheny County, it has strived to provide quality care and more for those in the community. Solevo now has grown to three locations: Squirrel Hill, Cranberry and Washington. Northern Connection magazine recently caught up with Solevo Wellness, speaking with Rocco Levine, Operations Director, and Dr. Richard Greer, Pharmacy Director.

 

Q. What sets Solevo apart?

A. Solevo Wellness has been built upon education and patient support. In the medical marijuana industry, we tend to see the lack of both very important types of information and support throughout the United States. Understanding our patients and their needs helps us create a safer and more medical approach to marijuana. We strive on educating our staff, in every position, to help a patient along their journey to a better life. – Rocco Levine

Q. How do most of your patients come to you?

A. Most patients find Solevo Wellness through their physician or by word of mouth. Solevo Wellness has built a Wellness Center dedicated to helping our patients and their needs. This and our very accessible buildings help people understand that this is a medical facility, and you should expect the highest level of professionalism. – Rocco Levine

Q. What sort of results are patients reporting to you?

A. Each patient is different and has different needs with regards to medical marijuana and what it could help treat. At Solevo Wellness, we take an approach to medical marijuana where we slowly build the patient’s education about the endocannabinoid system and the medicine we provide. This helps ensure little to no adverse effects, and a higher success rate than when dealing solely with a patient’s symptoms. Obviously, we wish we could say this helps with everything for everyone, but as we know, everybody responds differently to medical marijuana. – Rocco Levine

Q. Have you been surprised by any of the results you are seeing?

A. If you are new to medical marijuana, some of the results or stories patients provide may seem impossible. Medical marijuana has helped patients from the age of two up to 98. Since this is a relatively new industry, there will always be results that surprise all of us. Medical marijuana has not been researched enough, or to the degree that we completely understand this. Until we start understanding the medicine more, we will be surprised by the results we do see daily. – Rocco Levine

Q. You have expanded to three locations?

A. Yes, the patient base is continuing to grow due to education, outreach and new diagnoses being added to the program. Since anxiety has been added as a qualifying condition, the program has grown over 25%. We will continue to see growth in our industry with more conditions being added to list, opening the range of qualified patients. – Rocco Levine

Q. Are people becoming more receptive to using medical marijuana?

A. Time will always help reduce the stigma associated with using medical marijuana, due to the very nature of humanity. Word-ofmouth, education and research will reach more people, and more people will become more comfortable once they know the plant and its possibilities. Our facilities help lift the presence of marijuana to a medical standard. – Rocco Levine

Q. Is the medical community becoming more comfortable with recommending that patients try medical marijuana?

A. There will always be hesitation from the medical community regarding medical marijuana, due to the lack of research provided and approved in our industry, which sometimes hinders a medical professional’s approach to medical marijuana. Medical professionals are very well-educated individuals with years of training. Taking on a new medicine that has little to no research on its effects, dosing, etc. will create an uncomfortable feeling for these professionals. Since the Pennsylvania program has brought medical professionals into the industry, we have seen a huge step in the right direction for all sides in the medical community. – Rocco Levine

Q. Is there one form of medical marijuana that is more popular, or does it depend on the condition that is being treated?

A. When we talk about forms, we are talking about the types of medical marijuana products we carry. Everyone has a different path, and depending on their comfortability with medical marijuana, we will choose a form that works best for them. The form that is the most “popular” is dry leaf, or the flower of the plant. – Rocco Levine

Q. What kind of community involvement does Solevo support or participate in?

A. For 2021, you will see Solevo Wellness continue with many of the same initiatives we have been involved with while including some new ones as well. We have traditionally been involved with general medical marijuana advocacy for patients, but more specifically for children who qualify for medical marijuana, veterans, and first responders. Essentially, any businesses or organizations that has an interest in the betterment of people’s lives are potential targets for Solevo’s participation. – Dr. Richard Greer

Q. How are you helping the senior population?

A. Throughout the course of the pandemic, the senior population has become even more of a focus for us at Solevo Wellness. COVID-19 has left seniors especially vulnerable, not only from potentially contracting the virus but also from the isolation from family and friends. This has provided us with the opportunity to partner with several organizations over the past year who serve this population and offer these individuals some relief from the isolation they may be experiencing through gifts as well as companionship. – Dr. Richard Greer

Q. How have you adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A. Solevo has made several changes to adapt to the COVID pandemic. We have limited the number of patients who are allowed into our building to avoid crowds in our waiting rooms and so that we can maintain social distancing. Everyone coming in-andout of our buildings – both employees and patients – are required to wear masks when inside. We installed iWave air filters in our HVAC system to kill airborne bacteria and viruses, we have our locations professionally cleaned/disinfected 2-3 times per week and, we have increased our cleaning protocols by employees throughout the workday. Due to the high transmission of the COVID virus, we have been especially vigilant with quarantining certain employees with potential exposure(s) but have not experienced significant issues with this. Most noticeably, you will see plexiglass dividers between our staff and patients to decrease the spread of COVID.

With everything stated above, we have maintained focus on the patient. We hope any adaptations have had little – if any – disruption to the patient experience at Solevo Wellness. If a line forms outside of our door because we can only let a certain number of patients inside, we hurry to get patients in/out ASAP. If we are missing a Patient Care Consultant or two because of sickness, we allocate other employees to consult with patients. Any mandates that we are required to follow are always taken seriously, but we are keeping everyone safe in a way that does not seriously sacrifice our services. – Dr. Richard Greer

Q. With the restrictions in place for the COVID pandemic, in what ways are you able to still help educate the community?

A. Everything we do with community education has changed in comparison to how we did things pre-pandemic. With the capacity restrictions on public gatherings and requirements for social distancing, we went from having multiple educational events weekly to almost zero. There have been a select few in-person events, but we are mainly using Zoom, Teams, Google Meet or other means to educate in a group setting.

Fortunately, we’ve built strong relationships with some local organizations who are dedicated to helping patients with medical marijuana therapy. We have partnered with local groups dedicated to helping veterans, Parkinson’s patients, children with autism, and patients suffering from chronic pain to name a few educational presentations we have done throughout the pandemic.

Another fortunate outcome of the pandemic was dispensaries being deemed as essential businesses, in the same light as a traditional pharmacy. That allowed us to keep our doors open, uninterrupted, throughout the course of this pandemic and to continue to educate western Pennsylvania patients coming through our doors. – Dr. Richard Greer 

For more information on Solevo Wellness, visit the website at: www.solevowellness.com.

Premier Wealth Partners

Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle or a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act.  There is no other route to success   ~Pablo Picasso

If you asked parents what they desire for their children, among the things most would cite are good health, happiness and success.  Other than practicing healthy habits and employing good attitudes, you really can’t plan for the first two elements, but you can plan for your child’s success.  One of the keys that sets a child up for success is providing them with a quality education.

CLICK HERE to read more about how Premier Wealth Partners can help you prepare for your child’s future and and assist you with your financial goals.

Call (412)922-7700 or visit www.premierwealthpartners.com 

Passavant Hospital Foundation

The doctor, nurses and hospital staff at UPMC Passavant are shining a bright light daily during these uncertain times.  Their heroic efforts are incredibly admirable and so sincerely appreciated.
CLICK HERE to read more about these heroes.