Welcome to the 2017/2018 school year!

cropped-cropped-cropped-lva-logo-with-rcs1.pngDear Lehigh Valley Academy  Families,

Welcome  to the 2017/2018 school year. We are looking forward to embarking on our 16th year of operation! This promises to be a year filled with exciting opportunities for all of our students, faculty, staff and families as we strive to find more ways to continuously improve and develop.

The 2017/2018 school year will provide engaging, meaningful and rigorous work in our classrooms, combined with special events and a variety of

Copy of Mauser

extracurricular activities certain to encourage our students to be involved and stay connected! We will continue to build upon and refine our proven foundation of best learning practices and innovative teaching strategies through the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes.

Lehigh Valley Academy is committed to inspiring life-long learning in a caring environment where diversity is accepted, respected and appreciated. I  look forward to a very positive and productive year together!  I extend a special, yearlong invitation to our families to join us at school activities and events whenever possible.

We want . . . we need . . . and we value your involvement and support in your child’s education!  Your active participation is key to your child’s success.

Here’s to an AMAZING new school year as we work together to make Lehigh Valley Academy a great place to learn and work each day!



Susan Mauser

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/

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

LVA Community Spotlight: Dayanna De Jesus, LVA Class of 2017

img_1493Hello my name is Dayanna De Jesus and I am a senior at Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School, in Bethlehem PA.  I have been a student at LVA since I was in Kindergarten.  On February 21, 2017,  I received the ” Catch a Young Person Doing Something Right” award from Allentown Mayor, Mr. Ed Pawlowski.  

I was nominated and received this award because of my volunteerism in the city of Allentown.  I planned, coordinated, and hosted a fashion show  on January 28, 2017 to raise money for Cancer research.  The models and clothing were all local brands, designers, and young people from the Lehigh Valley.

This fashion show started off as my DP CAS (Creativity, Activity, & Service) project, but it became so much more and this truly made me realize what I love to do.  My journey here at LVA has been great!  With this in mind,  I want to say thank you to everyone that has impacted me at LVA.  This is not only a school but a family.   LVA is a support, a place where you can come as you are, and a place where you are taught so much beyond the classroom.  I feel that I have been challenged and have learned things about myself that have helped me to grow into a better person.

My goal for this event was to bring people together from all walks of life.  I feel that sometimes people think that you need to have money to get somewhere.  I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to do what they love and to also discover a side of themselves that they may not have know existed.

Ms. Dayanna De Jesus
Class of 2017
Lehigh Valley ACademy


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



Lauren Tarshis visits Lehigh Valley Academy!

LVA was lucky to spend an evening with Lauren Tarshis!  In order to make the Read Across America Week “even more awesome”, our 4-6 building hosted an Author Visit with Mrs.Tarshis on Thursday, March 2nd.  This special nighttime event was a complete sell out, with tons of LVA families coming out and supporting this inspiring author.  We could not be more enthusiastic about all the festivities of the night!

Our 4-6 scholars are avid readers of all of Lauren Tarshis’ works.  She is the New York Times bestselling author of the I I survivedSurvived series, which are famous for being fast-paced historical fiction chapter books about disasters that have occurred throughout history.  These high-interest reads are hard to keep on shelves because they are super entertaining while also helping our readers become more knowledgeable about the history of the global world we share.  

But this author’s influence does not stop there! All grades in the building have been incorporating her articles from Scholastic Storyworks magazine into their daily reading adventures.  From whole group, to small group, to just on their own, our students are navigating her high quality informational texts and dramas like analyzing all-stars!  One favorite title for Sixth Grade has been “Black Sunday”, which helped our thinkers learn about the Dust Bowl.  Fifth Grade has been committed to deeply examining the text “Freedom or Death” and what it means to be a risk-taker in the face of challenges.  Even our Fourth Graders are tackling these terrific texts, with some students developing original timelines to organize the information in the paired texts “Icy History” and “Ice Cream for All!”.  Lauren Tarshis’ work is helping our LVA scholars strengthen their reading superpowers!

Lauren Tarshis has the ability to touch a variety of LVA readers with all different interests.  While presenting her journey as an author last night, she shared that she originally wrote the I Survived series to appeal to boys, but has been pleasantly surprised that it has reached all audiences.  Her presentation last night reached all in attendance too! Cameron, a student who attended the event last night, said, “I thought there was something for everyone to see”.  He described how he enjoyed the flashbacks to her childhood and the sneak peeks of her new books.  His enthusiasm was apparent as he confidently and proudly announced, “I’ve read every single book that she ever wrote!” and that he is eagerly awaiting the release of the new texts.

Jamie, a student who presented Lauren Tarshis with a gift that students created for her, said, “She was sending the message that you can do whatever you want as long as you try until you get there.”  Our LVA students benefited from hearing the strong message that we do not always have to be destined to be something, we can grow into it with effort and perseverance.  Thank you to all of the families who supported this outstanding and inspiring event.  It was a fantastic way to wrap up our Read Across America week!


Ms. Stephanie Chimics and Mrs. Sarah Cunningham

ES Reading Specialists, Lehigh Valley Academy

‘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