Amy Smith of Whitehall, Michigan was named Michigan’s 2020 Online Virtual Teacher of the Year for Excellence in the Online Classroom.
WHITEHALL, Michigan – Based on Lansing Virtual Michigan named its ‘Online Teacher of the Year 2020’, selecting Amy Smith of Whitehall from over 200 teachers who work for the nonprofit.
“I was very surprised, very honored to receive the award,” Smith said Wednesday.
Michigan Virtual serves students, schools, and educators across the state, offering a variety of online courses. Last year, more than 35,000 Michigan students were enrolled in courses offered by Michigan Virtual.
Smith, a French and health instructor, was selected for her excellence and positive impact in the online classroom and her ability to connect with students across the state from her home office.
“They’ll tell me the name of their city and sometimes it’s a place I’ve never heard of, but it’s in Michigan,” Smith said.
In the last semester, 70 students registered for Smith’s French course and 30 students took his health course.
While many Michigan public school teachers have been forced into online education, this is something Smith, a mother of two young children, has chosen to pursue because it allows her a flexible work schedule.
Smith says the flexible schedule also benefits students, as well as the various courses Michigan Virtual offers, including courses that are often not offered in a student’s public school district.
“They have the option of taking a French course when they wouldn’t have that option otherwise,” said Smith.
The 2020 Online Teacher of the Year honor included letters of recognition from Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan School Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice.
Michigan Virtual executives were impressed with Smith’s ability to connect and inspire students.
“Amy has done an outstanding job demonstrating her ability to instill a thirst for knowledge and a passion for language and culture in her students in an online environment,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of Michigan Virtual . “As we look to the future of education, we are extremely proud to honor an instructor who sets such a great example of the role virtual education can play in student success. “
“I know firsthand from feedback from my own students that a positive relationship with an online teacher has a huge impact on student well-being and success, both personally and academically,” Smith said. “I have come to truly appreciate the adaptability and flexibility of online learning to meet the needs, circumstances and aspirations of learners and teachers. “
Smith is a graduate of Hope College in the Netherlands, Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, and Western Governors University in Utah. She has been a Michigan Virtual instructor since 2015.
Her advice to students enrolled in online classes is to stick to a daily schedule, set goals, track progress, and take short breaks in front of the computer screen.
“And that means no technology. Give your eyes and your brain a break, then come back to it for half an hour,” Smith said.
She added that a student’s success with online learning also depends on parental involvement.
“Ask your student, ‘what did you learn today’, ‘show me what you did today’ and ‘show me what your class looks like,’ she said.
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