By SARAH HOFIUS HALL (STAFF WRITER)
October 5, 2012 - As Penn Foster President Joe Gagnon buckled his bicycle helmet and appeared before cheering employees, he called it a "magical moment for the company."
About photo: Michael J. Mullen / Staff Photographer Penn Foster President Joe Gagnon speaks to employees before leaving Thursday on a bike trip to meet prospective students in Allentown, Philadelphia, New York, and Trenton and Newark, N.J.
Mr. Gagnon embarked Thursday morning on a three-day, six-city bicycle tour to meet with current students and those considering an online education.
"We're on a journey to creating magic in people's lives," he told the more than 100 employees gathered to see him start the "Choose To Be More" tour.
Before Mr. Gagnon rode off, he spoke with local students about the school.
"Our goal is to make this as accessible as possible," Mr. Gagnon told the students. "We want to hear from you. ... Schools usually don't care what the students think."
Dalton resident Vanessa Hillemann, who is a veterinary technician student, said she appreciated the attention.
"It was nice to see the faces behind the school," she said.
Mr. Gagnon expects to travel between 80 and 100 miles each day. He is expected to visit Philadelphia and Trenton, N.J., today, and Newark, N.J., and Brooklyn, N.Y., on Saturday.
Mr. Gagnon said the ride won't be "too bad."
An experienced cyclist, Mr. Gagnon has previously ridden 15,000 miles in a year's time, cycling from 4:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. every day.
Mr. Gagnon told employees crowded into the lobby that he was inspired.
"The spirit that comes from us being together is nothing short of remarkable," he said. "The school has been invisible for many, many years. We're not going to be invisible anymore."
Accompanied by Brent Siniawski, director of education services, on another bike, the two left the school's Oak Street, Scranton, headquarters in a light rain at 10 a.m. and headed toward Allentown, where they were expected about six hours later.
"We don't think there's any other university or school president who has done this before," Mr. Gagnon said.
About Penn Foster
Penn Foster is a global leader in online education, providing career-focused degree and vocational programs in the fields of allied health, business, technology, education, and select trades through the Penn Foster College and Penn Foster Career School.