Kevin Santer named 2019 Michigan Virtual Online Teacher of the Year

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Lansing, Mich. — Michigan Virtual has named Kevin Santer of Redford, Mich. the 2019 Online Teacher of the Year. This annual award recognizes an online instructor who has demonstrated excellence and made a positive impact in the online classroom.

During the 2017-18 school year, about seven percent of all K-12 students in Michigan, or more than 112,000 students, enrolled in at least one online course. In the past decade, the number of virtual learners in Michigan has tripled, with more students choosing to supplement their face-to-face education with online courses.

“In our increasingly digital society, online education provides Michigan students with valuable learning opportunities that may not be otherwise available to them in their local school districts,” said Gov. Whitmer. “As one of our state’s finest online educators, [Santer] makes a difference daily by providing these students with one-on-one support and personalized feedback.”

With a background as a software engineer, Santer began his teaching career after getting his master’s in secondary math education. Inspired by a family history of teaching and a drive to share his passion with students, Santer worked as a math and computer science teacher at Lee M. Thurston High School in Redford, Mich. for nearly a decade.

Kevin Santer

In 2016, Santer began working with Michigan Virtual as a part-time mathematics instructor and was later promoted to lead instructor in career and technical education. Since beginning his work as an online instructor, he has received outstanding positive reviews from students, mentors, colleagues, and supervisors.

“It is remarkable to hear stories of how great teachers like [Santer] are able to transcend the digital divide to change the lives of students,” said Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles.

In addition to his passion for teaching, Santer has been described as having a great deal of empathy for his students. Two of Kevin’s nominators described situations in which Kevin went above and beyond teaching to ensure the emotional wellbeing of his students. From reaching out when noticing that his students are struggling, to sharing his personal experiences, Kevin has consistently demonstrated concern for the overall student, not just their digital learning success.

In addition to his skill as an online instructor, Santer has used his expertise in software development to create and share a variety of applications to help online instructors do their work more efficiently. On this subject, Santer said, “My thinking is that whenever I can free instructors from an inefficient task, I’m giving them more time to work directly with students and improve their courses.”

At the state level, Santer has shared his professional experience to help reform the Michigan K-12 Computer Science Standards as a member of the Michigan Department of Education’s workgroup on Computer Science Education. He has also volunteered his time and expertise as a judge for The Henry Ford’s Invention Convention both at the state and national levels.

“We are honored and humbled to have a talented educator like Kevin as one of our lead instructors,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of Michigan Virtual. “The high standard of excellence to which he holds himself as an educator makes him an ideal recipient for our 2019 Michigan Virtual Online Teacher of the Year Award.”

Michigan Virtual launched the Teacher of the Year award in 2009. Since that time, 13 teachers have been recognized for their invaluable contributions to students’ success. To be named Teacher of the Year, key criteria for selection include a positive impact on students, continuous improvement of practice, and a vision for the future of online education. This distinguished award was created to set a bar for excellence and put a face to the incredible teachers in the digital learning community.

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About Michigan Virtual

Michigan Virtual™ (formally known as Michigan Virtual University®) provides online courses for Michigan students, professional development for educators and is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute®. As a nonprofit organization with more than 20 years of experience, Michigan Virtual is Michigan’s leading voice in online education. Visit us at michiganvirtual.org.

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Limited Course Capacity

We’re sorry to inform you that we have reached capacity for several of our Semester 1 and Trimester 1 courses. You’ll notice when attempting to enroll students in our Student Learning Portal that some courses are unavailable. While we are no longer accepting new enrollments for these courses at this time, many courses continue to remain open for enrollment.

With many students across the state 100% remote, demand for our online courses is greater than ever before. Because every course we offer is taught by a Michigan-certified teacher, this high volume of enrollments has created capacity issues for our teachers who provide each and every student with individual feedback.

While the Michigan Virtual team anticipated and planned for significant increases in student enrollments this Fall, the increased demand we’ve experienced has been unprecedented. As a result, we are taking steps to hire even more part-and full-time teachers to support larger numbers of student enrollments for Semester 2 as well as for Trimester 2 and 3. 

For schools that still need online learning options this year, please fill out the form at the bottom of our virtual pathways page to meet with someone to discuss other solutions. While some of our teacher-led courses are full, we may still have the capacity to help you in upcoming terms or can discuss timing to implement a whole-school or collaborative program in which local teachers from your school/district use our online course content to teach students. We also have free course content and resources available for you to use.

We know this is an incredibly stressful time for all, and we’re sorry if the courses you’re looking for are unavailable. We never want to turn away a student who wants to learn from us. Our top concern, however, is student success, and we have a policy to not take on additional enrollments if we cannot guarantee that all students will have a quality online learning experience. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the unusually high volume of enrollments we are receiving.