April 2019

What's happening?

Virtual Arkansas' very own Sarah Garrison participated in the pilot year for Lead Professional Educators. In her words she said it was "a challenging and rewarding experience." We celebrate her commitment to lifelong learning and professional growth through the ADE micro-credentials. She also encourages anyone wanting to continue their own professional learning and plans for career continuum support and development to pursue this opportunity for earning a new state licensure designation.

Student of the Month

Megan West

Salem High School


Megan is an ambitious student who is taking two computer science courses with Virtual Arkansas at the same time this year. She is an innovative thinker and always goes beyond the expectations that are set for her. Her coding projects consistently exceed minimum requirements, and she seeks out additional learning resources so that she can further enhance her programs with advanced coding techniques that go beyond the scope of the class. Megan's interest in the computer science field promotes much-needed diversity in our field.

Nominated by: Dustin Summey | Core Campus, Computer Science

Facilitator of the Month

Jacob Todd Calvert

Osceola High School

Tell us a little about your family:

I am the oldest of my parents two children. My parents, both very active in the school, always encouraged me to work hard and make sure I achieved everything I ever wanted to.

Position at Virtual Arkansas:

I am the facilitator of Algebra II class, AP Computer Science Principles Class, & Advanced Topics and Modeling in Mathematics class. Aside from those classes, I teach geometry.

Education:

I studied Mathematics and English at Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, from 2012-2016, and I studied computer integrated manufacturing in Spring 2017 at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Wisconsin.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Osceola, Arkansas.

Why did you decide to work in education?

I decided to work in education because I truly love math, and I wanted to show students why I love math, making it real and relatable enough to ensure an appropriate amount of knowledge is transferred.

What is the best part about being a facilitator?

The best part of being a facilitator is building relationships with students and VA teachers. I get to work with incredible people and work with students individually or in small groups, guiding them towards mastery.

If you could give your students one piece of advice, what would it be?

Do not ever be afraid of failure, and mistakes are proof that you are trying.

Teacher of the Month

Amy McClure

Computer Science | Core Campus

Tell us a little about your family:

My husband Mark and I have been married for 20 years. We have two sons; Hunter is 16 and Noah is 7. Hunter is autistic and loves all things water. He is a blessing to all who meet him and your typical teenager. Noah loves baseball, basketball and Lego Ninjago. He is a very active first grader. We are all very involved in church activities also. I teach a weekly Sunday School class for ages 8-10 and Mark leads a Wednesday night Royal Ranger class.

Position at Virtual Arkansas:

Core Campus Computer Science Teacher

Education:

I earned my undergrad degree in Computer Information Systems from Louisiana Tech University and later a Master's in Information Technology from Arkansas Tech University. After working in the industry for 15 years, I began my career as an educator and obtained my Master's of Teaching from Arkansas Tech University.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in North Louisiana in the small town of Forest.

Why did you become a teacher?

My teaching career began at a community college in Monroe, LA, immediately after graduation. I taught courses in Networking, Web Design and Telecommunications. Years and a couple of states later, after a semester as a substitute teacher, I rediscovered my passion for teaching. It was an easy decision to complete the course work and obtain my teaching license in Arkansas.

What is the best part about being a teacher?

The students, of course!

If you could give your students one piece of advice, what would it be?

Follow your dreams! Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do!

A good book read...

In this section of our blog we are sharing what some of our Virtual Arkansas Educators are reading. Each month will have a book review by one of our own! We hope by sharing our love of reading with you, you may find a book to enjoy as well.

Review:

Launch - Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring out the Maker in Every Student by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani

Mr. Summey and Ms. McClure have been reading Launch, by John Spencer and AJ Juliani, a thought-provoking book that casts a spotlight on innovation and creativity across all subject areas and grade levels. The acronym L-A-U-N-C-H outlines the process that empowers students to innovate and be creative.

L - look, listen, and learn

A - ask lots of questions

U - understand the problem

N - navigate ideas

C - create

H - highlight what’s working and failing

The LAUNCH framework is empowering for teachers and students alike, even if you don’t consider yourself to be “creative.” Students are naturally curious and that leads to creativity and wonder in the classroom. We love the emphasis on the maker mindset, design thinking, and the marriage of artistic creativity and engineering.

Problem-solving is a very integral concept in teaching Computer Science. By providing a flexible framework for creative work, students can engage in design thinking.

After reading this book, we have a renewed passion to help release the curiosity and creativity inside each and every student that walks into our virtual classrooms--and we think you will too!


Person Sharing: Dustin Summey & Amy McClureVirtual Arkansas Position: Core Campus | Computer Science