IVS’ Teacher Spotlight of the week is Susan Conlon. Susan has been teaching AP Psychology at IVS for four years. Susan attended college at Western Illinois University and has recently retired from her role as a local school counselor. Susan’s hobbies include kayaking and reading. Additionally, she enjoys hiking the Ozark Trail with her dogs and volunteering with the Missouri Stream Team to keep our rivers clean for future generations. When she’s not teaching for IVS, Susan works as an equestrian trail guide in the Ozark National Scenic Waterway.
Susan recently provided us with her thoughts on online learning.
IVS: Why did you decide to begin teaching online?
SC: As a school counselor, I researched the pros and cons of online learning and compared multiple providers for my rural high school. To be honest, I was skeptical about online classes because:
- I believe in relationships between students and teachers, and
- I feared that most high school students lack the maturity, independence, time management, and perseverance to succeed online.
When I learned that IVS has real, live, highly qualified teachers, I decided to take the IVS online professional development classes and learn more. I was impressed with the Standards for Online Learning and the body of evidence that supports its effectiveness.
I enjoyed my online experience and knew that the teacher support provided by IVS was exactly what my students needed to be successful online. I worked with my administration to increase IVS offerings and move away from providers that don’t offer such a high level of service.
It was a coincidence that IVS needed an AP Psychology teacher and I was honored to apply. Fast forward 4 years – I am grateful I remained open minded about online learning. I love the relationships I have with my IVS students from all over the state.
IVS: What aspects about the online teaching and learning environment do you appreciate the most and why?
SC: This is a no brainer! The flexibility. I can work in the middle of the night if I choose. I can work wherever I travel. I love out of state, but I continue to be a proud Illinois teacher.
IVS: What benefits exist for students when taking an online course?
SC: For many students, IVS offers courses that are not available at their school. So, IVS enhances the home school’s curriculum.
IVS also meets the needs of students with special circumstances. I have had students with medical and/or mental health reasons they could not attend school; Olympic athletes who travelled most of the year; and students who took my class while they travelled abroad.