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Online teachers of the year selected

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Teachers from opposite sides of the state were named Michigan Virtual’s Online Teacher of the Year at an awards presentation dinner at the Kellogg Center at MSU on Monday, Nov. 8.

Molly Bruzewski of Bay City and Andrew Vanden Heuvel of Grand Haven were honored for being true pioneers in working to change the way students learn and educators teach in the state of Michigan.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Flanagan congratulated both honorees on behalf of the State Board of Education and the Michigan Department of Education.

“Helping our young people to become successful online learners is critical to their future success in higher education and the world of work,” Flanagan said.

Bruzewski has been an online instructor for Michigan Virtual for Students since 2001, where she teaches in a virtual classroom for schools all across Michigan. The courses she is currently teaching online include American Government, Legal Issues and Advanced Placement Government & Politics. She also provides leadership at the Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District as their curriculum consultant and Moodle trainer.

Vanden Heuvel is a physics and mathematics teacher for the Michigan Virtual for Students. He is also a science education consultant for USA Today Education and a physics and astronomy professor at Calvin College. Andrew was recently appointed as a NASA Solar System Educator and was recognized as a Hubble Space Telescope Gold Star Educator.

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.

“Online instructors are the critical element to effective online teaching and learning,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of Michigan Virtual. “Just like in face-to-face teaching, online instructors must be engaging, knowledgeable and available. Molly and Andrew are all of these things and more, and they represent the very best in what is a new and growing field. Our online teachers of the year truly believe all students can learn and they do a remarkable job of developing a rapport with students they rarely get a chance to meet in person.”

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 15,000 during 2009-10. 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).

In a letter congratulating Bruzewski and Vanden Heuvel on being named Online Teacher of the Year, Gov. Jennifer Granholm said “your leadership and dedication in developing new and innovative instructional models is worthy of statewide recognition.”

“Online learning will continue to grow and become even more important as schools, students, and parents explore effective alternatives to traditional learning models,” Gov. Granholm said. “Thank you for your pioneering spirit, your creativity and your dedication to our children.”

The presenting sponsor for the award dinner was AT&T, a company with the stated mission of supporting events that benefit education. “Supporting education has been a major focus for AT&T for more than a century, and education is our key philanthropic focus. We are driven to help students succeed — in school, in the workforce and in life,” Roger Blake, Regional Vice President, Government & Education, AT&T, said. “We strengthen our communities by providing good jobs, donating our time and talents, supporting underserved populations and promoting education programs that create economic opportunity.”

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.

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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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