Our students here at PALCS amaze us every day, with their dedication, motivation and compassion. Danielle Guth, a PALCS 12th grader, is a prime example. As Danielle’s senior year is winding down, there seems to be no slowdown in sight for this bright young woman who will be attending Immaculata University next fall.
As a member of the PALCS Class of 2017, Danielle has been very involved in the PALCS community since first enrolling in 2013. She is a member of our School of Professional Studies, our Center for Performing and Fine Arts blended program and participated in the Dual Enrollment program with Delaware County Community College. On top of all of her activities and responsibilities, Danielle still makes time to raise funds for the “Minding Your Mind Foundation,” which she is very passionate about. We recently had the chance to catch up with Danielle and her mom Colleen and learn more about their journey with PALCS.
Danielle had been experiencing bullying in middle school at her previous brick-and-mortar school. Danielle was born with severe hearing loss, and from a young age developed general/social anxiety disorder, but she was doing great and overcoming her challenges. Her mom explained that she was beating her anxiety, she made the softball and cheerleading team and things were looking up. Danielle loved school and loved to learn but then the bullying and cyber bullying started and tore her world apart. The anxiety returned a lot worse than before. “The bullying was starting to take over my life and consume my life to a point where I wasn’t myself anymore,” said Danielle.
At a critical time in Danielle and her family’s life, when Danielle was about to enter high school, they needed another option. “We were working closely with school but nothing ever happened; I proved the bullying to the school time and time again but it was made out to be that she was too sensitive,” explained Colleen. It was suggested that Colleen put her daughter into a small private school, but that was not an option for the Guth family. Some of their neighbors had students enrolled at PALCS, but Colleen was hesitant putting her daughter back in front of a computer screen for any reason, even school. “After doing a ton of research on both private and cyber schools, PALCS ranked HIGHEST in word of mouth and personal experiences,” said Colleen. So the Guth family decided to go against their fears and take a chance enrolling Danielle at PALCS. Within a week of enrolling in PALCS, Danielle was that girl who loved school again. As she puts it, “I was myself again; it was the best decision we ever made.” Colleen couldn’t agree more, explaining “it was a huge weight that was lifted off my shoulders. PALCS was the right decision and I only wish we switched sooner. Within a year and three months, she was inducted into the National Honor Society.”
A New Beginning
Transitioning to cyber school after being in a brick-and-mortar school your whole life can be a challenge, for both the student and parents. For Danielle, cyber school was just what she needed, and her mom agrees. One major key factor that both Danielle and Colleen said made such a difference is the personalized learning experience and feedback from teachers. “When I get something wrong on an assignment, project, essay, anything, I am actually told what I did or where I went wrong, so that I can fix my mistake in the future; whereas in a typical brick-and-mortar school, you just get a big “X” on your paper with no explanation,” said Danielle, “The teachers here, despite the fact that you don’t see them every day, go out of their way to help you,” she continued.
Despite Colleen’s original fears of sending Danielle to a cyber school, she said it was just what her daughter needed for her learning disabilities and abilities to thrive once again. Of course she had the typical reservations about cyber school, picturing her child having too much downtime and no socialization; however, she quickly saw that here at PALCS that was not the case. “The myth of cyber school vanished in just a very short time for me as a parent. My child was working just as hard, if not harder, than she was with the curriculum she had in the brick-and-mortar setting,” Colleen explained. “Danielle has thrived so much at PALCS and it really has exceeded our expectations. I would highly recommend PALCS to anyone, not just someone who was having issues in the brick-and-mortar setting,” she continued. Since enrolling at PALCS, Colleen said that Danielle’s social anxiety has become nonexistent, with her general anxiety becoming easily manageable without the need for therapy or doctors. The quality of learning at PALCS exceeded the Guth family’s expectations; but most importantly, Danielle is happy and loves to learn again. She is thriving.
Danielle overcame her social anxiety by taking advantage of the socialization opportunities offered here at PALCS. “I overcame my shyness so much because of the welcoming and kind community that PALCS was! PALCS has so many opportunities for socialization, such as the high school network chat, virtual interactive classrooms, clubs, student government, field trips, dances, proms etc. along with their variety of programs they have to offer,” Danielle explained.
She was accepted into the Center for Performing and Finer Arts program in 2015, with her main focus being piano; she’s also had the opportunity to learn dance, photography and even tried guitar for a year. Some of her favorite classes include English, psychology and sociology. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, yoga and spending time outdoors. She also participates in PALCS Student Government, serving as the chair of the Student Involvement Committee, and the National Honors Society, serving as the Vice President. She enjoys taking on leadership roles, brainstorming and arranging service projects and leadership activities. “I have met so many wonderful people from these programs and have gotten to participate in so many fun trips and volunteer/leadership activities,” said Danielle.
Danielle is very passionate about raising awareness and funds for anti-bullying campaigns and even runs her own kindness campaign on social media called “From Compassion to Action.” She manages the “Minding Your Mind Club” at PALCS under the supervision of PALCS English teacher Ms. Naylor. For the past 3 years, Danielle has been raising funds for the “Minding your Mind Foundation,” which is a non-profit mental health organization to help end the stigma on mental health. The foundation has speakers go around to schools and colleges to share their stories in hopes to let others know that they are not alone, spread inspiration and helpful resources to those in need. Danielle became involved in the foundation after attending an anti-bullying event. The following year, she had her own anti-bullying event at CPFA, “Ending Bullying Through Music”, which was a great success and was held again this year. In order to stay involved in the organization, she has been asked to speak at local schools after she graduates. To learn more, visit Minding Your Mind.
Danielle will be majoring in psychology at Immaculata University, in Malvern, PA, where she plans on being actively involved in Student Government and Aevidum, which is an organization that educates others about suicide and depression through positive messages. She hopes to one day get her masters and maybe even her doctorate in clinical mental health counseling or clinical psychology.
“My journey and experiences through my 4 years at PALCS and 2 years at CPFA have been an amazingly positive experience! As I am sad to depart from such an amazing school that has done wonderful things for me; I am beyond ecstatic to start the next phase of my life and see what my future has in store for me! I look forward to my college career and my future career in psychology and hope to do amazing things and make a difference with my work and my kindness campaign,” Danielle said in closing.
Danielle will be delivering a wonderful speech this June in Lancaster, PA at the PALCS 2017 Graduation on June 17, 2017. We cannot thank Danielle and Colleen enough for taking the time to share their story with us and want to wish them all the luck in the future! We are proud to have Danielle as a PALCS student and future alumni and cannot wait to see all she will accomplish in her future.