LANSING, Mich. — Catherine Vila, of Grand Haven, Mich. has been named the 2021 Michigan Virtual Online Mentor of the Year — an annual distinction given to mentors of online students who have demonstrated excellence and made a positive impact on student success in the online classroom.
“All Michigan Virtual students receive a trained and engaged mentor to provide additional, customized support with their academic needs, and of equal importance, the social and emotional support to succeed,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of Michigan Virtual. “With all of the challenges surrounding education the past year, such as students facing anxiety, missing the classroom and their friends, and struggling with their studies, Catherine Vila has proven to be an effective and caring mentor for her students, and serves as a shining example of the benefit that having a mentor provides in an online setting.”
“Catherine Vila has proven to be an effective and caring mentor for her students, and serves as a shining example of the benefit that having a mentor provides in an online setting.”Jamey Fitzpatrick, President & CEO of Michigan Virtual
Since 2015, Michigan Virtual has annually honored outstanding mentors of online students through this award. Vila, a Spanish Immersion Teacher with Zeeland Public Schools since 2019, places an emphasis on truly caring about her students in addition to supporting their academic success:
“I made a commitment to get to know them personally, and to find something unique to love about each of them so I could form a solid relationship with my students. My goal was not only to give them mentor support in their studies, but also social and emotional support. I love inspiring them, motivating them, and advocating for them. They have learned self-discipline, organizational skills, effective time management and digital skills. They have learned how to navigate an online learning system. These skills will have an impact on them in the coming years,” said Vila.
“I made a commitment to get to know them personally, and to find something unique to love about each of them so I could form a solid relationship with my students.”Catherine Vila
Vila earned her Michigan Teacher Secondary Certification in Spanish and ESL from Aquinas College. She previously held positions with the West Michigan Alliance of Immersion Educators, Innocademy, East Grand Rapids High School, and Wyoming Public Schools.
Since its inception in 2015, 15 mentors have received the distinction of being named a Michigan Virtual Online Mentor of the Year. Mentors of the Year are nominated by Michigan Virtual instructors who are in regular contact with school mentors regarding student progress and success. Among the criteria to be nominated, educators must be a positive and proactive communicator with instructors and parents, assist and act as an ambassador for students to ensure their success, and more. This distinguished award was created to set a bar for excellence and put a face to the incredible mentors in the digital learning community. Learn more about Michigan Virtual mentors at michiganvirtual.org/mentors.