IVS Teacher Spotlight – Susan Conlon

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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:

  1. I believe in relationships between students and teachers, and
  2. 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.

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IVS Teacher Spotlight – Sue Miller

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Sue Miller is a Consumer Economics Teacher at Illinois Virtual School. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Eastern Illinois University. Sue is retired from the face-to-face classroom, but she’s definitely not retired! When she’s not teaching for IVS, she works part-time as the office assistant at her church, and does quite a bit of volunteering. Sue is a proud military mom of one son, daughter-in-law, and four awesome grandsons. Sue’s hobbies include dancing, reading, volunteering, and craft projects.

Sue recently spent some time to share her thoughts about teaching at IVS.

IVS: Why did you decide to begin teaching online?

SM: “I was getting rather bored with my face-to-face classroom of teaching business and computer applications and wanted a new challenge. I was intrigued to hear about IVHS and its pilot program. Combining computers with teaching was right up my alley. Getting involved with online teaching has been one of my best educational decisions!”

IVS: What aspects about the online teaching and learning environment do you appreciate the most and why?

SM: “I love the flexible schedule! It is enjoyable to have students from all over the state with different backgrounds and experiences. Most of my students are first-time online students and I like trying to make the experience enjoyable and successful for them.”

IVS: What benefits exist when taking an online course?

SM: “There are really too many benefits to list them all! The flexible schedule, I think, is the most important for the majority of students. They can work on their course 24/7.”

IVS: What strategies do you use to keep your students motivated and engaged?

SM: “I do a lot of communicating with my students – email, text messages, phone calls – which keeps the course foremost in their minds. I also add some fun, colorful news items.”

IVS: What advice may you offer to students who are not sure if the online environment is a proper fit for them?

SM: “An online student needs to have good time management skills. Even though the course is available 24/7, the student has to be self-disciplined enough to actually sit down and do the work. I would advise a student to take a close look at his/her daily schedule and see if the time is available to dedicate to the course.”

IVS: Why is IVS a special place to be a part of?

SM: “IVS is so special because of the caring, committed, knowledgeable teachers and staff. Everyone works together to get the job done.”

 

 

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