Academy Instructor Discovers CyberPatriot

A curriculum and a competition changed everything

Lisa Oyler, began her teaching career in 2001 with a computer applications course at Summit Technology Academy (STA), located on the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit. From the single course on computer repair and networking, STA’s Networking Academy program has become one of its strongest credential programs. 

With the popularity of the Networking Academy courses, the timing was perfect when the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education asked if STA wanted to participate in the CyberPatriot student competition. Lisa felt confident she could recruit a standout team who had not only the skillset needed to win, but the leadership qualities as well. 

In only their second year of competing, the STA team made it to Nationals and placed fifth. “It was like a shot in the arm for the school,” says Lisa. “It helped attract other students, and in the third year, we had enough students to create a second team. That created a new dynamic—competition between the two teams.” The competitive spirit worked: both teams made it to Nationals that year.

Networking Academy + CyberPatriot a Winning Combination

Lisa discovered that Networking Academy courses and CyberPatriot teams have a catalyzing effect on each other. First, during the competition, she could see that her teams had an advantage because of their Networking Academy training. “They had the fundamentals nailed down. All of the commands and protocols were in their heads. It was easier for them to learn about hardening the systems to protect them.”

At the same time, the competition inspired students to work harder in their Networking Academy courses. “The juniors in networking and the seniors in cybersecurity inspired each other. Networking Academy students and CyperPatriot competitors were motivating each other to up their game. The synergy between courses and competition was amazing,” says Lisa. 

By the time STA attended CyberPatriot’s 8th annual competition, they were represented by 5 teams of juniors and seniors. One of the teams took 1st place at Nationals, a victory that reverberated through all of the schools in the region. 

Lisa having been a champion of the program from its inception played a key role in this success and for the last 3 years, all of the Networking Academy courses have been full. “After 20 years, a big part of what motivates me is seeing my students learn exactly what they need to have successful careers in today’s industry. Networking Academy is still giving me a curriculum that’s relevant and fresh. Students are learning the same level of information they would in college and professional development programs. It’s fantastic preparation for college or the job market.”

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