LVA Celebrates Inaugural Class of the 100% Society

Many of our 4-6 building mathematicians have brighter lanyards these days as they have started collecting the limited edition pins marking their entrance into the 100% Society!  These bright badges of honor let their peers and teachers know that they have successfully earned at least three 100% scores on the iReady lessons during that month. 100 society 1The best part is that the iReady lessons are specifically chosen for each individual student to best meet his/her needs and to give each student exactly what is needed to promote growth, giving all students the opportunity to continue being strong mathematical thinkers! This brand new society originated as a fun and engaging way to motivate the students to make the best of their time spent on iReady Online Instruction, and we have seen such enthusiasm from our students.

In January, the Math Department was happy to celebrate our Inaugural Class of the 100% Society and we have continued adding to our society ever since.  Each month, in addition to the fancy invitation, the students are invited to attend an exclusive monthly event, which always has a fun theme and is filled with Minute-to-Win-It games, crafts, STEAM projects, outside time, and a super professional photo booth, complete with props to make those 100 society 2100% Society memories last! Each student also receives a limited edition monthly 100% Society Pin to wear on their lanyard that announces to LVA that they are rocking their Online Instruction.  Each month features a fresh new color, and students are urged to collect them all. We look forward to inviting more and more students into the 100% Society to celebrate their commitment and growth using the iReady program!


Mrs. Steph Comp, Ms. Mary Hartnett, & Mrs. Hannah Chami

Math Department – Elementary School

Lehigh Valley Academy


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

My 10th Grade Personal Project: By Vidhya Thiyagarajan

vidhya2The Personal Project, a requirement for Year 5 students (10th grade) in the MYP (Middle Years Program), is a project where students can basically focus on any topic they are interested in, as long as they complete the cycle of Investigate, Plan, Take Action and Reflect on their chosen topic.

I have been playing flute for six years. Over the years, I have developed a deep passion and respect for flute and music itself. Involved in many ensembles and taking advantage of every opportunity to perform, fed my curiosity of wanting to learn more about music. I wanted to further my knowledge by expanding my realm of music from playing to composing. So, for my Personal Project, I decided to focus on music, specifically composing music for the flute and teaching my piece to kids. I created timelines and lists to ensure that my project would be successful and completed on time. After, I had researched “Music Theory” and used my previous knowledge to create a two-part flute piece: Nature’s Chorus. Before I began teaching, I collaborated with the Jr. and Sr. High School Band teacher: Ms. Riccio, the 4-6 Band teacher: Ms. Ewaniuk and my private flute teacher to get their advice on what I could do to improve my song.

After both myself and my three teachers evaluated the song and I made the necessary changes, I started vidhya (6)teaching it to Ms. Ewaniuk’s four flute players. I was so excited to teach and watch my piece come to life. The four flutists: Alexis, Grace, Joelle and Sofia exhibited enthusiasm and dedication in learning the song in every lesson. Each lesson consisted of new techniques in playing the flute learned and improvement in the song. They were so fun to work with and I am really glad I had the opportunity to to work with four talented musicians and offer them some advice on being a musician! After we had worked on the song for about four weeks, it was time for our first concert!

On April 8th, the 4-6 Jaguar band and choir had a concert at the Sands Casino. Along with their performances, my flute quartet performed Nature’s Chorus. I was so ecstatic and proud of how far they had come since their first time playing my piece and was so happy that they had fun while practicing and playing it! We have another performance on May 10th, along with the 4-6 Band and Choir, and I cannot wait to hear their performance! I am so thankful to have had this experience because it provided me with exposure and perspective on music and teaching that I could not have gotten anywhere else! I also want to thank all of my teachers that supported me throughout this entire project and LVA for giving me this opportunity!

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

LVA Community Spotlight: Meghan Coble, LVA fifth grader

Meghan Coble, a Fifth grade student at Lehigh Valley Academy is among eight national winners in the “Lighting for Pupils” essay contest created by the lighting company, Acuity Brands.  As a result, Meghan’s classroom will receive a free installation of tunable white lighting from Acuity Brands. Tunable White lighting allows a teacher to adjust, or “tune,” the color of the light – warmer or cooler- to be just right for the classroom activity. Research shows it helps improve student mood, behavior & focus.  135 students from Meghan Cobleacross the country submitted essays focused on “What Light Means to Me,” and why it should be in their classrooms.  Meghan’s essay was one of  8 winners selected.

What light Means to Me

What light means to me is to come out of the darkness.I got my inspiration from a book called “City of Ember” because they are coming out of the darkness. So coming out of the darkness is is like stepping into happiness and it is a wonderful feeling and you are making this your moment and stepping out of your shadow you might have been hiding in for so long.

You should make your life bright.Even if it is a gloomy day and it is raining or cloudy you can make it a good day and make it bright by your mood, your personality, and the way you act towards people.

In “City of Ember” they come out of the darkness that they have been trapped in for so long.The main characters Doon and Lina find their way out of Ember and lead the Emberites into a place called Sparks.Sparks is a nice place for them because they did not know what light was and now they are in a light filled world.

When you step out of your shadow you are going out of your comfort zone and taking a risk into the light filled world.You should look around and see the light around you and be glad you have light and not let the littlest things take the light out of your world.

In conclusion, What light means to me is to step out of the darkness and go into the light filled world.This will make you feel great and wonderful inside and even if the sun doesn’t shine on you make it shine on your wonderful self.So remember light is every where and that is what light means to me coming out of darkness.

By, Meghan Coble

Acuity Brands Blog



‘Paper-Free Day’ at Lehigh Valley Academy


To celebrate Paper-Free Day, our Fourth Graders communicated their annotations while synthesizing a first hand and a secondhand account by writing on their desks. They compared and contrasted the various accounts of Michelle Kwan’s career and achievements. These scholars tackled complex texts with such enthusiasm!

Our Fifth Grade thinkers examined the text “My Dogs and Me” and annotated in a Google Doc. They showed they were knowledgeable using Google Forms to answer questions. These paper free peers were reflective about their answers using the feedback from Google Forms and collaborative discussion.

paperless2Our sixth graders read the story “Ish” by Peter H. Reynolds during a center. They were given six questions linked to stopping points in the story. After hearing the question and rereading that part of the book, the students responded to the questions on their desks. These communicators shared in a discussion afterwards about the character trait “admirable”.

Mrs. Hemingway’s fifth grade encore students took the idea of Paper Free Day one step further. They used their math skills to collect and analyze the financial impact of the day!

Mrs. Sarah Cunningham & Ms. Steph Chimics
ES 4-6 Reading Specialists
Lehigh Valley Academy RCS

A Day in the Life of Lehigh Valley Academy Kindergarten

img_6178Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School (LVA) has provided full day Kindergarten since the school opened in 2002.  We are the only school in the area to practice looping, which means students will have the same teacher for both Kindergarten / First Grade and Second/Third Grades.  This creates a sense of comfort and community within the classroom and allows for more continuity between grades.

We offer a before and after care program (ESP – Extended School Program) which is available for all K-6 students.  This enables parents and caregivers to drop off children as early as 6:45 am so that they are able to head to work.  During this time, the staff will provide homework help and supervise students during activity and play time.

In order to ensure a smooth start to the school year for our Kindergarten students, LVA provides a number of opportunities for the student and family to become familiar with the classroom and our Kindergarten program.  Prior to the start of the year, everyone is invited to our K-6 Open House.  This is followed by Kindergarten Orientation, where families learn more details about the Kindergarten Program and the students practice bus etiquette by riding the bus.

Each classroom has  interactive white boards, infusing technology into their lives every day.  Most of our Kindergarten teachers start their day with a short academic activity to wake up their students’ minds before circle time.  During circle time, students join their teachers in the common play space to review the goals for the day and some basics such as the date and days of the week, weather, the letter of the day or any other special things students need to know.

A bulk of the morning is spent on Language Arts – for Kindergarten students this means phonics, basic comprehension skills, and handwriting.  One of the most exciting things about LVA is that students begin their study of Mandarin Chinese at this age.  Every other day, students will work with their Mandarin Chinese teacher and receive introductory lessons to the language.  LVA also has three reading specialists who visit the classrooms throughout the day to help students where needed.  By the end of Kindergarten,  the goal is for all LVA students to know how to read!

recessLVA operates on a six-day rotation with one specialist class each day.  Kindergarten students will have art, drama, music, library science once in the six days, and PE twice. After specials, all Kindergarten classes head to the cafeteria so students can socialize with one another during lunch time.   Post lunch is every Kindergarten student’s favorite part of the day – recess!  An active body is just as important as an active mind.  From our large playground to inside spaces, LVA teachers make sure students have plenty of time to “shake their sillies out” during the day!

Kindergarten teachers utilize center time throughout the day, where students are placed in small groups for more individualized instruction.  As an IB World School, even our youngest students are introduced to the idea of inquiry-based learning.  Six units of inquiry are taught during the course of the year, encouraging students to learn about themselves and the world around them.  These units are based on the Pennsylvania State Standards in the areas of Social Studies and Science.  For math, students spend their days learning about number sense.  When necessary, students receive extra help from three building level math specialists.  The Primary Years Programme (PYP) guides all students in K-6 at LVA, and fully adheres to the PA Core Standards set by PDE.  PYP students are encouraged to ask questions, develop a lifelong love of learning and become global citizens of the world.

Kindergarten students wind down their day with some much needed quiet time to rest and reflect before packing up.  Bus dismissal flows smoothly and students who are a part of the ESP after school program can stay until parents are able to pick them up, as late as 6 pm.

During the school year, parents can stay connected to the classroom and ensure their child’s success through weekly newsletters, volunteering to help with classroom activities, attending Parent/Student/Teacher Conferences or chaperoning one of the field trips.

Kindergarten is a fun and exciting time for many families – we are so excited that you opted to take this journey with LVA!  For more information about Kindergarten admissions, please contact the LVA Admissions office at 610-866-9660 extension 4100 or