ATLANTA, March 2, 2012 — Leslie Fetzer of Holly Springs, North Carolina, an online biology teacher at North Carolina Virtual Public School, was named America’s 2012 National Online Teacher of the Year for K-12 education last night. The honor is awarded by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).
The 2012 SREB/iNACOL National Online Teacher of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding online teacher for exceptional contributions to online K-12 education. The review committee selected Fetzer and two other finalists from online educators in public schools and state virtual schools in 26 states.
"Leveraging the power of the Internet for learning allows students to have access to courses they need regardless of where they’re located or what time of day is most convenient for them," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan by video at the award presentation.
Quality online learning "cannot exist without phenomenally effective and committed teachers who understand how to use technology to personalize the learning experience," Duncan added.
Fetzer has taught online biology to grades 10-12 at North Carolina Virtual Public School for the past three years. A former classroom teacher, Fetzer noted that teaching online is not what most people envision. "When I was given the opportunity to teach online, I jumped at the chance," she said. "To really teach a student, you need to reach them on a personal level. Teaching online allows me to personalize instruction for every one of my students."
"I can use images, word analogies, create a cartoon or animation, record a live lesson, or add audio to help them remember." Almost daily, she said, "I get to witness students having ‘light bulb’ moments. This growth is so exciting."
Fetzer is "completely student-centered" and "approaches online instruction with innovation and motivation," said her chief academic officer, who nominated Fetzer for the honor. The nine-year teaching veteran was also 2011 Teacher of the Year at North Carolina Virtual Public School, which serves 45,000 students statewide.
The award winner and finalists were recognized during the SREB Educational Technology Cooperative Teaching and Learning Symposium, held March 1-2 in Atlanta. The announcement was webcast live, courtesy of award sponsor Blackboard Collaborate. View the presentation (Session name: 2012 SREB-iNACOL NOTY). Additional sponsors include AT&T, Connections Learning, Florida Virtual School, Pearson Foundation and SAS.
Fetzer was awarded a custom-created crystal Flame of Excellence and a trip to the Virtual School Symposium sponsored by iNACOL October 21-24 in New Orleans. As the 2012 National Online Teacher of the Year, she will represent online teachers everywhere at speaking appearances throughout the year, will be recognized during the iNACOL Annual Meeting and will be featured on the SREB and iNACOL websites.
Also recognized at the presentation were the other finalists: Tracy Seiler from the South Carolina Virtual School Program and Asherrie Yisrael from Georgia Virtual School.
"These teachers face new challenges in new ways every day. They connect with and make a real difference in the lives of their students. They prove that good teaching is simply good teaching — wherever it happens. SREB and iNACOL are proud to honor Leslie Fetzer and the other finalists for their courage to innovate and their commitment to excellence," said Myk Garn, director of the SREB Educational Technology Cooperative.
"We are thrilled to honor Leslie Fetzer with the 2012 Online Teacher of the Year Award. Leslie is a highly respected teacher at North Carolina Virtual Public School who is an expert in personalizing the learning experience for each of her students, developing critical thinking skills, problem-solving, and navigating them toward college- and career-readiness successes. Her passion and dedication are an inspiration to all of us. Leslie represents the very best in next generation teaching and learning — combining the best teaching with most advanced learning tools and digital resources to individualize instruction that is high-tech and high-touch," said Susan Patrick, president and CEO of iNACOL.
For more information about the award program and the work of the Educational Technology Cooperative, contact SREB Communications or visit www.sreb.org.
iNACOL (www.inacol.org) is the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) membership association based in the Washington, D.C., area with more than 3,100 members. iNACOL is unique in that its members represent a diverse cross-section of K-12 education from school districts, charter schools, state education agencies, nonprofit organizations, colleges, universities and research institutions, corporate entities, and other content and technology providers. iNACOL hosts the annual Virtual School Symposium (VSS): www.virtualschoolsymposium.org/.
The Southern Regional Education Board, or SREB, based in Atlanta, was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislatures to help leaders in education and government work cooperatively to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region. SREB has 16 member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.