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Teacher Success Stories

Administering Vital Connections Virtually

July 29, 2022

Preparing Students for Careers in Healthcare

A Story of Teacher & Student Success

Featured Educator

Nancy Ortner
TOSA, Career Technical Education
Visions in Education Charter School

Teaching From Industry Experience

Some individuals feel the calling to help others from an early age, and they find different avenues to help, support, and leave them better than they found them. To do this, some pursue a road routed through medicine. Others follow pathways through the field of education. And some are lucky enough to intertwine these two noble lanes and make a powerful difference in the lives of others. One educator who has been navigating these fairways for decades and making a big impact is Ms. Nancy Ortner, a Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for Visions in Education Charter School in California.

Nancy Ortner has been in the field of education for 42 years, and during her tenure, she has become highly skilled in the design and implementation of challenging, enriching, and innovative online digital curriculum. But teaching isn’t the only position she has held during this time. She also acted as the Director of Marketing for a local dentist and as the Executive Director for a large, non-profit organization called Smiles for Kids, that organized and provided free dental clinics and screenings at elementary schools for underprivileged children. Even though the focus was different, Nancy was still drawn to the education side of the businesses, and she loved being able to support and help students in need.

Because of her background, Nancy was able to attain a healthcare credential allowing her to teach courses related to medical careers. Now, with the help of eDynamic Learning’s curriculum, Nancy is supporting and developing her students’ diverse talents, needs, and interests. She also supports their career development through the courses she facilitates: Health Science Foundations 1A, Health Science Foundations 1B, Physiology 1A, and Anatomy and Physiology 1B.

At Visions in Education Charter School, Nancy works with a diverse group of students in her independent study and College Prep Academy. Her students come from a variety of backgrounds and a large socioeconomic disadvantaged population that is heavily Latino and Hispanic.

“In the independent study program, the majority of the students come to us “credit deficient”. Many don’t see themselves as good students or capable of achieving more and they bring that attitude with them. I think the biggest thing is just for them to see success and that they can be successful.”

Using Technology to Stay Connected and Support Virtually

Nancy has often found that students are not used to reaching out for support, for a number of reasons. In many cases, it has been their experience or their impression that adults on the other end of line have not cared enough to provide the help that they need. But Nancy ensures that all her students have the opposite experience. Through the Buzz Agilix learning management system (LMS), Nancy has had the opportunity to proactively reach out to her students and provide the support that they need. She has allowed them to experience first-hand that there are educators personally vested in their success, both in school and in life.

Every week, students are required to attend a meeting hosted through Zoom so that the benefits of the in-person classroominteraction, collaboration, and relationship-building- are not lost.

“Collaboration pieces are so important. When shy students hear other students in the class ask questions or express that they don’t understand concepts, it opens up a huge discussion on the topic or vocabulary.”

Because the eDynamic Learning curriculum offers such engaging learning opportunities, it gives Nancy the opportunity to demonstrate to her students that there is a real teacher connected to the course who truly cares about their success. She enjoys learning about their personal stories and creating an environment that is safe and encouraging.

The Buzz Agilix LMS and the eDynamic Learning curriculum also gives Nancy tremendous insight into students’ daily interactions. Each day, Nancy is able to monitor her students’ work online including how much time they’re spending in their courses, the quality of their work, and the grades they’re receiving. She then can leave personalized feedback to acknowledge and encourage their efforts, to steer them back in the right direction, or to communicate that the student may be capable of putting forth more effort. eDynamic Learning provides multiple opportunities for educators to provide commentary from messaging and notes within the student view or badging and tailored video messages. Buzz and eDynamic Learning also allow Nancy to take action in a way that will help get the most out of her students. She can see if students are excelling and need enrichment to keep them engaged, or she can see if students are not giving their best effort and can respond accordingly using her own unique “code.”

“What I do is for students who need to give a better effort is grade their work with a 1%. The 1% is very strategic, it lets them know I’ve seen their work, but it was not up to par. The “code” is communicated with students when we begin the course, and they know the meaning behind the 1%.”

Nancy’s students know that they can’t skate by in her courses, and it’s another reminder that they are supported. There is a teacher on the other end of the screen that is invested in them and knows they’re capable of more.

Because equity and access can be a major obstacle for many students, Visions in Education helps students remain engaged in their education. All students receive a Chromebook and a MiFi (a small portable router that acts as a mobile hotspot for any device), so they have consistent and reliable access to a device and the internet to work through their courses. Because eDynamic Learning’s curriculum is web-based and can easily and optimally run on Chromebooks (and on all devices), students can work where and when is best for them.

“We have a lot of students that are homeless and don’t have access to wifi, and also students that need to work to support their families. So that’s part of the beauty of the flexible curriculum, students can do their work anytime of the day or night as long as it’s done by Friday by 11:59pm.”

Preparing Students for High-Demand Careers in Healthcare

Through her facilitation of the eDynamic Learning Health Science and Anatomy and Physiology courses, Nancy has been able to share two of her passions with her students- education and health- and has been able to help prepare her students for a potential career in the medical field. It has also helped her open her students’ eyes to new opportunities and has led to new revelations.

“The health industry in Northern California is of high priority. Healthcare students know they’re always going to have a job no matter which focus they choose. The eDynamic course and Career Spotlights have also introduced new careers that they didn’t know even existed, like x-ray techs and phlebotomists.”

In addition, Nancy believes that the eDynamic Learning curriculum helps keep students engaged.

“Students love the way the courses are written and the fact that the information is chunked out. They love the interactive pieces and the flow of the class, and especially like the podcasts, interactives, discussion boards, and collaborative opportunities.”

Being able to share your passions with students and to inspire their journey makes a powerful impact, and having a curriculum that you believe in enhances your ability to do so.

Nancy said her students enjoy the curriculum because it is easy to understand but challenging at the same time. They also like that it is consistently designed from unit to unit and from course to course with extras.

“They like the “extras” they need to be supported: the podcast, the dictionary, the vocabulary, etc.”

“I LOVE how easy it is to customize the learning experience for each student. You can take things out individually, excuse an assignment, and add whatever content you want, it’s very user-friendly! eDynamic Learning makes it easier to be a teacher.”

Nancy was recently recognized by eDynamic Learning as a 2021 Career Compass Award recipient for her incredible work with her CTE students in helping guide passion to purpose. We are certain she will continue to connect with students to encourage and support them as they pursue their career interests, and foster growth alongside them throughout their journey in learning. Her lasting impact may inspire students to become the next generation of doctors, nurses, and technicians in the essential field of healthcare!

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