A Forever Home for LVA!

Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School (LVA) is pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees has entered into an agreement of sale for a 55 +/- acre property east of Butztown Road in Bethlehem Township, Northampton County at a cost of about $5.4 million for the purpose of building a new school facility. “This fiscally responsible decision ensures fixed costs for the future and supports LVA’s long term plans,” said Martin Smith, President.

The school, currently located at 1560 Valley Center Parkway in Hanover Township, initially secured an agreement of sale on a 31 acre property in Hanover Township at 5300 Jaindl Blvd. During the due diligence period, the Board of Trustees decided to withdraw from the agreement of sale for the Hanover Township property due to insurmountable zoning issues. The new property does not have these zoning issues, with schools being a by-right use according to Bethlehem Township zoning.

“We are so excited about the opportunity to design and build our K-12 forever home.”said Susan Mauser, CEO.  Lehigh Valley Academy is partnering with Alloy 5 for Architectural services, D’Huy Engineering for Project Management, and Terraform Engineering for Land Development.

Upcoming public Facilities Committee meetings are posted on the LVA website.

LVA offers the region another choice in public education for students in grades Kindergarten through senior year. As one of only three fully authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World schools in North America offering all four of IB’s programmes, LVA delivers breadth and depth of learning with global awareness. 

LVA’s programs include the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP), Diploma Programme (DP) and the Career-related Programme (CP). For more information on education at LVA, please visit lvacademy.org and ibo.org. The admissions office can be reached at admissions@lvacademy.org or 610-866-9660 x4100.

If you have additional questions, please email  s.ace@lvacademy.org or call 610-866-9660 extension 4202.

LVA celebrates IB “Four” All!

Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School is
one of two schools in the United States to offer the
Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme, Diploma Programme & Career-related Programme.


This year marks the start of Lehigh Valley Academy’s (LVA) seventeenth year of operation.  For the last sixteen years, LVA has prided itself on many things, one of them being the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme.  In 2006, LVA was authorized to offerHIMG_6707 the Primary Years Programme (PYP), followed by the Diploma Programme (DP) in 2007, and the Middle Years Programme (MYP) in 2009.  LVA is thrilled to now be able to add the Career-related Programme (CP) to that list of authorizations, making it one of two schools in the United States to offer all four programmes and one of twenty-three in the world to offer all four programmes.

The CP is IB’s fourth program and stemmed from a need to balance career-readiness with challenging academics.  While many career-readiness programs don’t offer students access to academic rigor, the CP has this tenant as its cornerstone.  Like the DP, students in the CP will take academically challenging courses; however, they will have the opportunity to select a career pathway.

CP students will have a core just like DP students have a core.  The CP core, however, looks a little different:

  • Personal and Professional Skills (PPS):  This class will show students how to succeed in today’s world in the classroom and beyond.  They will focus on effective communication skills, resume writing, interview skills, and how to effectively collaborate in the workplace.  
  • Service Learning:  Like the DP, students in CP will complete a service learning component.  Students will interact with their community; students will serve an authentic need while learning new skills.  Students will work with the PPS class and teacher to develop a service learning project that relates to the chosen career pathway.
  • Reflective Project (RP):  Similar to the Extended cp-model-enEssay in the DP, students will write an extended piece of academic writing that will focus on research and developing an argument.  The RP will focus on an ethical dilemma in the student’s pathway. 
  • Language Development:  Instead of taking a DP language class, students in the CP will be allowed to study a language of their choice using Duolingo.  This course will culminate in a language portfolio to demonstrate their learning.

In the spring of 2017, Mrs. Mauser and I attended a training on CP to find out if it would be a good fit for LVA.  After that training, we knew CP was the perfect fit for LVA. We are proud that we can offer DP to all of our students, a programme that oftentimes is highly selective.  The IB is working hard to change this perception, and schools like LVA are at the forefront of that change. While we firmly stand behind our IB-for-All mission and believe that all students benefit from a DP education, we realize that DP isn’t always the best fit for everyone.  This is where CP fits in. It allows students to take a few DP courses and focus on a career pathway to prepare them for college or the workforce.

On April 11, 2018, a team from IB visited LVA to talk to our staff, students, and parents, and assess our readiness to offer CP.  As a result of the visit, the team had many commendations for LVA.  In particular, the team applauded LVA for:

  • “its desire to ensure that more students are part of a full IB programme.”
  • “creatively incorporating the IB learner profile into the ethos of the school community.  It permeates the school culture.”
  • developing “a comprehensive program for English Language Learners that includes extensive classroom support for teachers and students.”
  • developing  “the context to implement an inclusive CP with policies and practices that effectively support special educational needs.”

Like the IB, LVA is a dynamic institution.  We are definitely proud of our Diploma Programme, but we recognize the need to grow with and for our students and for the local and global communities of which they will be a part.

To begin our CP journey, LVA has decided to offer two career pathways from Project Lead the Way:  Biomedical and Engineering. These are the most popular careers our students choose to study in college.  They are also pathways that can prepare students for careers, two-year degrees, and four-year degrees. The Biomedical pathway, for instance, caHIMG_6770n prepare students for two-year medical related career programs, technical medical programs, and pre-professional programs.  While we are starting with these two pathways, we do want to add more. The hope is to add a business/management pathway. After this, the sky truly is the limit; the CP is an extremely flexible program that we hope will meet the needs of students at LVA.

Our first CP cohort will consist of about 40 students, which is approximately 40% of the 2018-2019 sophomore class.  

For more information on the Career-related Programme, please visit the Career-related Programme page on LVA’s website:  Career-related Programme Page.

Mr. Andrew Hall

DP/CP Coordinator, Project Lead the Way Coordinator

My Mindfulness and Movement Journey at LVA

My Mindfulness and Movement Journey at LVA

Written by: Guest teacher, Lindsay Schaefer

Two years back, I was over in the Southside of Bethlehem with my children Penelope and Baxter and taking in a beautiful day as we did much observation in a city park.  Southside of Bethlehem I feel so connected to since it reminds me of my days in NYC and working in inner city schools and well, the community in ways feels like a homb1me.  We walked the city filled park with murals, basketball courts, pool, and sprinklers and this deep message kept coming to me-

“Be the change you want to see.”  

As we continued our stroll and yes, played with some movement by the murals and on the basketball courts I realized the message was so deep and popping into my very Mindful state of being since it was a sign that I was meant to give back with my work.  To give back with my work as a Movement Specialist and Mindfulness Coach.  I observed that day city kids taking in my interactions with my own kids and wanting at times to follow our lead into movements that they saw us all doing.  “Be the change you want to see.”

Fall of 2016 when my daughter Penelope was in 6th grade at LVA is when that sign of giving back became reality.  As a movement specialist and mindfulness coach my kids have been around my work from day 1.  Since my days of performing as a professional dancer, to teaching, to leading groups of students whether kids or adults through movement or mindfulness my kids have been around it.  Movement and Mindfulness is pretty much in their blood and their daily terminology since they are exposed to me in action with my work every day.  As I say in the classrooms-

“Every day we Practice, we can become more Mindful.”mb2

So when I heard my 6th grader Penelope ask last year- “Mom, can we start a yoga club at LVA?”  I knew it was my time to step in, give with all my heart the passion of Movement and Mindfulness, and to serve in love. Through all my training I have had mentors of mine say to me “Be ready to serve when your tribe comes before you.”  LVA truly represented that tribe last year with Ms. Fischer being the leader of the Mindfulness train in welcoming yoga club to LVA and then taking Mindfulness a step further to welcome Mindfulness Techniques into the classrooms and directly into curriculum.  

LVA has been a leader in jumping on the Mindfulness train as I like to say since last year.  It all started with the LVA terminology of “Let’s do our Mindful Minute.”  To then inviting me in to the facility last fall to start Yoga Club and to carrying my Mindfulness Techniques into the Classrooms to be incorporated into curriculum for the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.  Mindfulness is an extremely abstract concept to wrap your hands around and your mind around.  I share with all my practicing students and teachers with Mindfulness that daily practice is the key.  “Every day we Practice, we can become more Mindful.” As I guide the students through practice with exercises such as: Unity Clasp, Busy Mind Compartment, Belly Breathes, Om with a Vowel I share with them the importance of performing the exercise but also being mindful of their personal space, their community space, and how they feel with every exercise before and after.  

Mindfulness is truly a Walk through Life.  I say to the students in our practice work lets feel our breath as if it is an orchestra playing to us.  Let’s inhale for 1, 2, and 3 and let’s exhale for 1, 2, and 3 to hear and feel only the sound of our breath in the classroom.  I help guide students to yes a very uncomfortable stillness at first.  But, with my nurturing through elements of eye contact, follow the leader representation, and mantras such as “I am amazing” and “I am awesome” these students and teachers dive in and jump on the Mindfulness train for an incredible practice session.  

This school year Principal Ms. Fischer has added in some new Mindfulness components such as bean bag sitting chairs and flexible barrel chairs for the students to practice on.  In our Mindfulness practices we have been selecting certain students to test out these components instead of sitting at their desks.  It has been wonderful to add in from my tool bag for Mindfulness Meddy Teddy and his posture work involving movement for the students.  I present a special movement posture to the students and have Meddy Teddy a soft cute flexible bear demonstrate the same posture.  Students and Teachers then follow the lead of myself and Meddy Teddy and sometimes they even get to hold Meddy Teddy in the posture work too.  

My journey at LVA with Mindfulness and Movement continues for the 2017 and 2018 school year.  I am beyond honored to be at my children’s school and serving the LVA community with my work in Mindfulness and Movement.  Yoga Club kicks off on Monday, September 11th and runs every Monday afterschool for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders till November 6th.  Mindfulness Techniques in the Classrooms will be throughout fall for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders and with a review of visits in the spring time before testing time.  As the Mindfulness train and energy grows counselors and staff in the high school at LVA are catching on to the importance of Mindfulness and Movement for Mental Health and Leadership.  I was able to offer my work last year to 9th through 12th graders for Mental Health Awareness with various practices and at the top of this year shared practices with the DP 11th and 12th grade students who will be counselors on the 7th grade camping trip.  Mindfulness and Movement train is growing like wildfire throughout LVA campus and I can’t wait to share more of our progress over this year and in the future.   

Over the next couple of months, I will be continuing to mentor three LVA High School seniors on a documentary about LVA’s journey with Mindfulness.  The documentary is called Mindfulness and Movement~ Be the change you want to see.  We are hoping to share this with the LVA community once completed and look forward to celebrating this amazing journey in Mindfulness and Movement with all of you.

A huge thank you to Lynn Fischer, Amber Kraft, and Quanesha Johnson for all their support with bringing Mindfulness and Movement to LVA.  I also, would like to acknowledge the LVA High School Seniors working on the documentary Brian Aldana, Gianmarco Fernandez, and Michael Domic.  This Mindfulness journey would not be possible without all of you and your ongoing support.  

Let’s Move and Be Mindful Together~

Lindsay Schaefer

Movement Specialist and Mindfulness Coach

LVA Announces Charter Renewal

LVA Entrance Sign

Bethlehem, PA (May 19, 2017) – The Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School (LVA) announced today that their charter has officially been renewed. The charter renewal authorizes operation from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2021 without enrollment caps.
In accordance with Pennsylvania Charter School law, LVA is required to participate in a charter renewal process every five years with both of its chartering school districts, Bethlehem Area School District (BASD) and Saucon Valley School District (SVSD). The charter approval process stalled in December due to the inclusion of enrollment caps in the charter approved by the BASD Board of Directors . LVA filed for an appeal with the Charter Appeals Board (CAB) and filed a lawsuit in Northampton County seeking to maintain the legal right to operate without limitations on enrollment. In January, SVSD and LVA approved and executed a charter agreement that did not include any enrollment caps.
LVA’s charter appeal was granted, receiving a unanimous vote of approval by the Charter Appeals Board. Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, Pedro A. Rivera, signed the charter agreement on Bethlehem Area School District’s behalf. As an executed charter was achieved that does not include any enrollment caps, the lawsuit filed in Northampton County will be withdrawn.
Lehigh Valley Academy CEO Susan Mauser stated, “As the school year comes to a close, we are pleased to have a signed charter agreement. We are thankful that the Charter Appeals Board quickly executed this decision.”
In addition to the signed charter, LVA received notification that the Middle States Association (MSA) approved its mid-term report, thus authorizing LVA’s continuing designation as a MSA accredited school through 2021. Mauser commented, “This charter renewal and the MSA Accreditation, in addition to regular evaluations by the International Baccalaureate (IB), are independent assessments that validate Lehigh Valley Academy’s commitment to excellence.”

Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School (LVA), located in Bethlehem, PA is an accredited public charter school serving 1,700 students from 16 separate school districts in the Lehigh Valley. LVA is the only fully authorized International Baccalaureate World School in Pennsylvania that offers an IB continuum to all students in grades K-12. Beginning with full-day kindergarten and continuing through a student’s senior year, the school emphasizes inquiry-based learning and critical thinking to prepare a student for higher education and the 21st century globalized environment. LVA is committed to developing young people into active, knowledgeable and caring members of a world-wide, diverse society. http://www.lvacademy.org/

From Student to Teacher : A Reflection on My Experiences at LVA

When I first started at Lehigh Valley Academy, I was unsure what to expect.

smemmon1I was starting high school in a new place with new faces. However over the course of my four years at LVA I found a community. A community filled with peers and teachers who became mentors to all students. My teachers encouraged and guided me to strive for my best and challenged me to aim higher. Those mentors have now become my colleagues who still inspire me as a teacher.

smemmon2Being new to LVA, the IB program was something I had not heard of before. As I dove deeper into my high school experience, I went through the Diploma Program. Those who joined me on that journey know it is not for the faint of heart. It is a challenging, rigorous program that requires students to be thinkers, inquirers, and leaders in all aspects of their community. The DP program, while rigorous and testing, gave me opportunities to work with other students and teachers at LVA. Many of my fellow classmates and I worked with elementary and middle school students in afterschool programs or tutoring sessions.

After graduating from LVA,  I went to West Chester University to experience life after high school. The preparation I received in the IB program helped me adjust to the workload and pace in my freshman year. When I graduated last May with a dual degree in Elementary and Special Education, I knew I wanted to teach but I did not know which grade or type of classroom I wanted to Class of 2012work in. Little did I know, the perfect fit for my first teaching position was my old school. In my first year as an Instructional Support Teacher I have been able to learn from my colleagues. I have observed the unique teaching methods of how to teach core subjects and units of inquiry.

Due to going through the IB program, I am able to reflect as a former student and look at IB from a teacher’s perspective. As a former LVA student, I am proud to have gone through such a challenging and rigorous program and moreover, as a teacher I see the truly unique qualities found in the IB program.

This unique and rewarding program allows students to look at their community and world around them. Students make global connections and explore units of inquiry giving them hands on experiences while learning and exploring these topics.

Above all, when I first returned to LVA, it did not feel like I was coming back to my alma mater; it felt more like coming home to a community of staff and students who take pride in what is taught, learned, and accomplished everyday.

Ms. Sarah Memon

Instructional Support Teacher, Lehigh Valley Academy RCS

Lehigh Valley Academy Alumni

How to help your Elementary students prepare for PSSA’s: Part 2 of 2

It Takes A Village: Preparing for the PSSA at Home

You’ve heard it said that it  takes a village to raise a child.  It also takes a village to prepare students for the PSSA.  Teachers, specialists and students have been hard at work since August and now it’s your child’s time to shine.  As parents you may be wondering, “What can I do at home to help my child prepare?”  Well, you may not have realized it but you’ve already begun.  You’ve prepared them by ensuring that they attended school regularly.  You’ve sat with them while they completed their homework and prepared for tests. Krammes You’ve reached out to teachers with questions about how to help them be successful.  You’ve provided books and magazines for your child to read at home, which helped them learn new words.  So as the PSSAs approach, keep doing what you’ve been doing!  In addition, here are a few ways that you can set your child up for success on the test.

Before the Test:

Build your child’s confidence by reminding them that this is their opportunity to show what they know.  Remind them of their strengths.  If you know your child has struggled in a particular area, you can help him or her by providing extra practice at home using workbooks, apps, or online resources.  

Reduce anxiety.  Keep conversations about the PSSAs encouraging and low key.  Reduce anxiety triggers at home if possible, and familiarize your child with the testing schedule ahead of time.  Everyone will feel a little better when they know what to expect.

On Testing Days:

Make every effort to keep these days as stress free as possible. As such, please avoid  scheduling appointments during test days and arrive to school on time. Testing begins promptly at 8:30.  Students that arrive late will not be allowed to enter the classroom and will need to complete the missed portion of the test on a make-up day.  Also, make sure your child gets plenty of sleep in the days preceding the PSSAs and provide a good breakfast on testing days.

pssa1After the test, ask your child how they felt. What went well? What could have gone differently? Praise their efforts and reward their honesty. Then make time for some play and exercise, a hearty dinner, and a wonderful night’s rest. Remember, this test is just a tiny slice of a child’s academic portfolio. These tests can be viewed as a way to celebrate your child’s growth.  It’s their opportunity to apply all the knowledge they’ve gleaned so far this year and demonstrate it in a formalized way.

Mrs. Lisa Krammes

ES K-3 Reading Specialist

Lehigh Valley Academy

How to help your Elementary students prepare for PSSA’s: Part 1 of 2

We can’t believe it is almost time for the PSSA’s!  LVA students work incredibly hard screadduring the school year learning and applying many test taking strategies.  Our students feel prepared to take on any challenge, but we need the help of our families too!  “There is a superhero inside all of us, we just need the courage to put on the cape”- Unknown.  

Prior to testing, there are many ways families can help their superheroes gain the courage and confidence to power through the PSSAs.  In school we work in quiet classrooms; you can try creating a quiet working environment for homework too!  Helping your child develop good study habits will directly benefit them in the classroom.  Since your child brings homework home most nights, take this opportunity to reinforce the testing strategies that are being taught in school.  Having your child double check their assignment, allows you to ask questions about what they have been learning throughout their school day.

All superheroes want to enhance their super powers; one easy way to do this is through reading.  In the 4-6 building, we encourage our scholars to read for a minimum of twenty minutes each night.  We also have reading incentives, where our students record the amount of minutes that they are reading nightly.  Once they reach the goal, the students are rewarded with a reading party.  This winter, we held a snowball themed Minute-To-Win-It party!  Since our students are challenging themselves to read at home, there are several ways you can help your child take part in our future reading incentive parties.  Reading books together with your child is a great way to get started.  Even though your child is older, this doesn’t mean you can’t read together!  Whether you are reading a picture book with a younger sibling or reading a novel along with your child, the options are endless.  While reading, ask your child questions about the text to encourage deeper thinking.  These questions may lead to quite an engaging discussion!
During the weeks of the test, there are multiple ways to continue to help your superhero soar!  Encourage your child to practice the Mindful Minute as a strategy to calm and destress themselves at the end of the day.  pssa1Getting to bed on time allows our body the much needed rest we require during this busy time of the year.  Each morning, try to start the day with a healthy breakfast and some positive and encouraging morning chatter.  Arriving to school on time is also important, as we will need plenty of time to prepare for our busy and productive day!  Also, please try to keep your schedule as normal as possible.   Reflecting on these thoughtful tips can help your child gain courage to wear their superhero cape with pride!

Mrs. Sarah Cunningham

ES 4-6 Reading Specialist

Lehigh Valley Academy RCS