Whitehall woman named Michigan Online Teacher of the Year

LANSING—Amy Smith of Whitehall has been named the 2020 Online Teacher of the Year by Michigan Virtual, the nonprofit provider of online courses for Michigan students and professional development for educators.

The distinction is given to an online instructor who has demonstrated excellence and made a positive impact in the online classroom.

“While the past and upcoming school year have presented challenges for all educators, Amy has done an outstanding job in demonstrating her competency in instilling a thirst of knowledge and passion for the language and culture in her students in an online environment,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of Michigan Virtual. “As we look toward the future of education, we’re incredibly proud to honor an instructor who sets such a strong example for the role virtual education can play in students’ success.”

Since 2009, Michigan Virtual has annually honored an outstanding online educator through this award. Smith, a French language and health instructor, was praised for her passion at being able to translate virtual teaching to true student success. Increasingly, many Michigan high schools are not able to offer a variety of world language courses, compared to Michigan Virtual, which offers courses including Spanish, French, German, Latin, Japanese, Chinese, and American Sign Language.

Amy Smith. Michigan Virtual photo.

“I know firsthand through my own students’ feedback that a positive relationship with an online teacher has an enormous impact on the students’ wellbeing and success, both at a personal level and on an academic level,” Smith said. “I have come to truly appreciate the adaptability and flexibility of online learning to meet both learner and teacher needs, circumstances and aspirations.”

Smith earned degrees from Hope College in Holland, Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, and Western Governors University in Utah, and has been a Michigan Virtual instructor since 2015. She previously held positions as an adjunct French professor and teacher with Muskegon Community College, Hillcrest High School in Utah, Canyons Virtual High School in Utah, and Battle Creek Lakeview High School.

Key criteria for winning the award include a positive impact on students, continuous improvement of practice, and a vision for the future of online education.

Michigan Virtual, formally known as Michigan Virtual University, is a nonprofit organization with more than 20 years of experience in online education. It is also the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute. More at michiganvirtual.org.

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