Tara Becker-Utess of Dimondale was named Michigan Virtual’s 2012 Online Teacher of the Year at an awards presentation dinner at the University Club at MSU on Monday, Oct. 15.
Becker-Utess has been an online instructor for Michigan Virtual for Students since 2008, where she teaches in a virtual classroom for students in schools across the state. In addition to teaching math and social studies courses online for Michigan Virtual, Becker-Utess has served as a course content specialist to redesign the AP U.S. Government course. Becker-Utess also works as the High School Intervention Coordinator at Charlotte High School.
In online learning, course content and instruction is delivered over the web, with students following lessons, completing assignments and interacting with instructors through email and discussion rooms.
“Our online instructors play a critical role in helping students succeed in drastically new 21st-century learning environments,” Jamey Fitzpatrick, Michigan Virtual President & CEO, said. “They spend countless hours using innovative tools and strategies to support students before, during and after traditional school schedules. Tara and our two finalists (Cynthia Larson and Andrea Kistler) are experienced classroom educators who are working every day to redefine how teachers teach and how students learn in online communities. These dedicated individuals deserve to be recognized as entrepreneurial educators in today’s global educational landscape.”
Online learning is expanding dramatically in Michigan and nationwide. Michigan Virtual for Students has seen its course enrollments climb from 100 during the 1999-2000 academic year to more than 20,000 during 2011-12. National estimates for online enrollments have jumped from 40,000 to 50,000 in 2000 to more than one million last year, according to the International Association for Online Learning (iNACOL).
“As the first state in the nation to require online learning as a requirement for high school graduation, Michigan is known nationwide as a leader in online learning,” said Mike Flanagan, state superintendent of public schools. “It is teachers like Tara who are responsible for challenging our students to succeed in gaining the skills of 21st-century learners.”
About Michigan Virtual
Michigan Virtual is a private, nonprofit Michigan corporation established by the State of Michigan in 1998 to serve as a champion for online learning. It is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual for Students and Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute.