Sara Sibble, of Hamilton, named a 2021 Online Teacher of the Year

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LANSING, Mich. — Sara Sibble, of Hamilton, Mich. has been named a 2021 Michigan Virtual Online Teacher of the Year — an annual distinction given to online instructors who have demonstrated excellence and made a positive impact in the online classroom.

“No year has been more challenging in the educational space than the past year, so for Sara to be able to cultivate an environment that ensures all students are able to learn effectively in their own ways is truly inspiring,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of Michigan Virtual. “Sara embraces Michigan Virtual’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and it was evident in her nomination letters that her approach is having lasting, positive impacts on Michigan students, which makes her an ideal recipient of the Online Teacher of the Year award.”

“Sara embraces Michigan Virtual’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and it was evident in her nomination letters that her approach is having lasting, positive impacts on Michigan students, which makes her an ideal recipient of the Online Teacher of the Year award.”

Jamey Fitzpatrick, President & CEO of Michigan Virtual

In a letter from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Sibble was praised for her devotion to her students throughout the pandemic. Whitmer also stated: “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your tireless commitment to achieving equitable education for students in American Sign Language over the past 23 years. I truly appreciate your passion to educate, inspire, and encourage the next generation of leaders in our state.”

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank [Sibble] for [her] tireless commitment to achieving equitable education for students in American Sign Language over the past 23 years.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Since 2009, Michigan Virtual has annually honored outstanding online educators through this award. Sibble, awarded for her time as a Special Education Teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing with Holland Public Schools since 2012, was praised for her creativity, flexibility and selflessness in ensuring her students are heard and given the right tools to ensure they succeed. She recently accepted a new position as Lead Teacher Consultant for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing with Ottawa Area Intermediate School District. 

Among her nomination letters, Sibble was described as helping to turn the frightening stereotype of being deaf from a “disability” into a beautifully unique ability. As a Special Education Teacher for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing with Holland Public Schools, her ultimate goal is to create an environment that is completely deaf-inclusive. 

“Just three years ago I joined the adventure of online teaching,” said Sibble. “What a gift online education – and more specifically Michigan Virtual – is to students all across Michigan. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

“What a gift online education – and more specifically Michigan Virtual – is to students all across Michigan. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

Sara Sibble

Sibble earned her Bachelor of Science in Child Development from Michigan State University and studied at Western Michigan University and Grand Rapids Community College for graduate studies. She previously held positions as a Great Start Readiness Program and Early Childhood Special Education Teacher at Holland Public Schools and first-grade teacher in the Lansing School District. 

Since its inception in 2009, 15 teachers have received the distinction of being named a Michigan Virtual Online Teacher of the Year. To be selected, key criteria 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.