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2011-2012 Online Teacher and Counselor Recognition Awardees

CDE has announced the 2011-2012 Online Recognition Awardees for Colorado online teachers and counselors who have “demonstrated exemplary service to students enrolled in Colorado’s online schools and programs” and "truly go above and beyond in their work to make data driven decisions and to customize the learning experience for each student." Recipients will be personally recognized at the May State Board of Education meeting.

Congratulations to each of these teachers and counselors! They are making an important difference in the educational experiences and outcomes for online students. The summaries below are from the CDE website (http://www.cde.state.co.us/onlinelearning/whatsnew.htm).   An asterisk (*) as been added to denote CCA member schools, which were well represented.

Counselor Awardees

Name: Jennifer Lyon, Counselor

School: Branson School Online*


Jennifer Lyon has been a counselor at Branson School Online for three years. There, she has developed and teaches a Career Choices class where all students create Individual Career and Academic Plans (ICAP) to use as a tool for high school completion and college readiness. As this class is required for all new students in their first semester, Jennifer is able to begin building relationships with the students immediately, which she can then leverage in the future if students begin to struggle. Jennifer not only supports struggling students, but helps advanced students and students enrolled in Branson’s concurrent enrollment program to meet their individual personal and academic goals. Jennifer shares in her application that earlier this school year, she had a student who was failing three classes and barely passing the other four. She was not attending live classes and was absent 23 days in the first semester alone. Jennifer worked with the student, her family and teachers to put an individualized plan in place and the student is now passing six of seven classes and has 100% attendance in her live sessions.


Name: Pam Decker, Counselor

School: Insight School of Colorado*


Pam Decker has been a counselor at Insight School of Colorado for three years, and this is her first year as Student Support Coordinator. In this role she has created a Student Support Newsletter that goes to all administrators, faculty and staff and provides them with tips about differentiating instruction, identifying individual student needs and engaging with students. For students who are not engaged or struggling in the online environment, Pam has created Focus Team Meetings where a student plan is developed by advisors, counselors and the Family Resource Coordinator and then followed up on in the following weeks. When Pam creates or adjusts a student plan, she relies on multiple sources of data obtained from the Learning Management Systems and Student Management Systems as well as weekly grade and activity reports. The teams, resources and processes Pam has created at Insight are all tools to foster student growth in an online environment. In the 3 years Pam has been at ISCO, the number of graduates has increased tremendously. In ISCO’s first year, only 8 students graduated; the next year 52 students graduated and last year 77 students graduated. This year, ISCO hopes to have at least 90 to 100 graduates.


Name: Suzanne Jimenez, Counselor

School: Jeffco 21st Century Virtual Academy


Suzanne has been a counselor at Jeffco’s 21st Century Virtual Academy for two years. Suzanne utilizes the Naviance Program, which is a career planning program, for 21st Century and has adapted it to fit the online environment. She uses results from the Individual Career and Academic Plans, the Naviance Career Program and academic work to help students evaluate their own progress towards their goals. She has also been instrumental in building a counselor web page with information about post-secondary planning and options for students. Suzanne has helped multiple students who were identified as potential dropouts to raise their attendance and their grades. For students who made the choice to drop out, she develops a plan that outlines what students need to do to obtain their GED, and then guides those students to meeting that goal. Suzanne analyzes student-level data on a weekly basis and leads the counseling team in determining the level of support required by individual students. Suzanne makes it a high priority to check in with her students and their families often. This year, staff voted for Suzanne to receive the “Exemplary Performance Award”.

Teacher Awardees

Name: Deborah Sudbeck, Teacher

School: Colorado Virtual Academy*


Deborah has been a teacher at Colorado Virtual Academy for six years. Deborah offers a high level of customization for her students and designs lessons so that she can target and assist small groups of students that show weaknesses in particular areas. Deborah’s ability to translate the results of frequent interim assessments into highly differentiated instruction has resulted in significant student growth; 62% of her students that were below benchmark in Math twelve weeks ago are now either at or above benchmark. Through consistent communication, Deborah has built strong relationships with her families. She calls every family at the beginning of each year to get to know them, and provides resources and information about progress and expectations throughout the year with monthly conference calls. In addition, she meets face-to-face with all of her families at least twice throughout the year. Deborah’s efforts have paid off, resulting in 100% TCAP participation for her students.


Name: Ethan Huff, Teacher

School: Monte Vista Online Academy*


Ethan Huff has been a Social Studies teacher at Monte Vista Online Academy for three years. Dirk Oden, Principal at Monte Vista Online, comments that Ethan has been a strong leader in redesigning a number of Social Studies classes so that they align with the new Colorado Academic Standards, and has created matrices that show how his Social Studies classes align with Colorado Academic Standard Evidence Outcomes. He also uses individual student data, and interests to drive additional refinements to his Social Studies instruction. A student in his 2009-10 World Geography class said that Social Studies was her least favorite subject. After building a rapport with her, he identified that the student had an interest in the country of Ireland and created an independent study class on Ireland for this student. Since completing this custom course, the student has earned an “A” in multiple Social Studies classes. Both students and parents recognize and appreciate Ethan’s efforts to provide a quality learning experience in his classes. In a recent survey sent to parents and students, 4.5 out of 5 students feel that they learn a lot in Ethan’s classes, 91% are satisfied or very satisfied with his responsiveness and 100% rate him as helpful or very helpful.


Name: Justin Siddall, Teacher

School: Colorado Connections Academy*


Justin has taught at Colorado Connections Academy for four years in English and Language Arts. During the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, students showed improved CSAP scores in both reading and writing; students scoring proficient or advanced increased by 10% in reading and 20% in writing. Justin also created an “English Boot Camp” where he spends extra time with students that need extra writing support based on prior performance and individualized student data. Every student that has received an invitation to the boot camp has participated. Another example of the active participation seen in Justin’s students is through his Live Lessons. Christine Tanguay, Principal at Colorado Connections, states that Justin’s Live Lessons are among the highest attended because of his ability to keep his students fully engaged during the lessons by creating a rich learning environment using multiple features of Adobe Connect, including: share pods, videos, animation through power point, sound bites, breakout rooms and the microphone so that classes can have discussions.


Name: Wayne Sheldrake, Teacher

School: Monte Vista Online Academy*


Wayne Sheldrake has been a Language Arts Teacher for five years at Monte Vista Online Academy. With Wayne's guidance, students have developed work force and life skills, such as strong analytical and problem-solving skills. He also utilizes multiple facets of technology to help students understand content, collaborate, revise, and master core competencies. One example is that he provides detailed audio feedback on students’ papers in addition to his written comments. Students are able to listen to the in-depth audio comments as they review and revise their written work. His goal is to promote growth in reading and writing, and his efforts have paid off. In 2010 and 2011, 100% of his students made at least one year’s growth in English. Since 2009, there has been a 30% increase in assignments being completed and turned in on-time in Wayne’s classes bringing the current average to 77%. He instills in his students the importance of meeting deadlines. He said it well in his application when he stated, “Due dates matter. Learning at your own pace doesn’t mean it is okay to fall behind; it means spending as much time as you need to meet deadlines.”

*Denotes CCA Member School