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.
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.