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Author: MTDA Staff

Student Spotlight: Jacob Lien of Wolf Point High School

Jacob Lien photo Jacob Lien
Wolf Point High School, Class of 2024

Jacob Lien started studying Spanish in his first year at Wolf Point High School. When that teacher left the district, his counselor, Erin Loendorf, suggested MTDA as a way to continue with Spanish. He discovered that he liked learning in the online environment. “I like working at my own pace, if I don’t understand something, I can do it over and over until I do.”

As it turns out, Jacob likes learning, period. “What you need to know about Jacob is,  this is his thing, he loves going to school and he loves learning,” Loendorf offered. 

The summer before his junior year, he took College Algebra at Fort Peck Community College so that he could take pre-calc his Junior year and calculus his Senior year. Jacob’s Junior year, in addition to that pre-calc course and enrolling in Computer Science, Physics, and AP Macro Economics with MTDA, courses not available at Wolf Point, he’s also taking Anatomy & Physiology with a lab. “I was hesitant with his ambition because we don’t do weighted GPAs here, but he just laughed and assured me ‘it will be fine!’” shared Loendorf.

Jacob extends that same enthusiasm and kindness with his classmates, offering support to students taking the MTDA courses he’s already completed. What makes a student a successful MTDA student? “Being able to get started and manage your time. Don’t slack off and teach yourself how to do it. You learn how to learn,” is Jacob’s advice.

He credits his MTDA experience for improving his own organizational, time management, and communication skills. “It can still feel a little awkward to email your teacher,” Jacob says. But now he is much more thoughtful and thorough in those emails so that he gets the help he needs without extra messages back and forth for clarification.

Jacob is currently ranked at the top of his class with a 4.0. He would like to go to college and study science or math but is still undecided at this point. Although he is clear on this, “the experience I’m getting on MTDA is helping me see my future.”

We couldn’t be more proud!

Ava Arrowsmith of Laurel High School

Ava Arrowsmith of Laurel HS Student Spotlight

Ava Arrowsmith
Laurel High School, Class of 2023

Ava Arrowsmith discovered MTDA as a freshman at Laurel High School, when the Spanish class she wanted to take didn’t fit into the rest of her schedule. She was able to take it online through MTDA and discovered she liked it. “I like working on my own and at my own pace.

When things are all due at the end of the week it’s easier for me,” said Arrowsmith. Ava’s experience isn’t unique at Laurel High School, where they have a significant number of students taking a wide range of courses through MTDA during any period of the day. “We designed it this way for more flexibility. We offer MTDA courses for our students to discover,” shared Brent Edgemond, Arrowsmith’s guidance counselor at Laurel High School.

Ava has discovered. She took criminology and mythology her junior year, neither course is offered in person at Laurel. This year, her senior year with eyes on a future business degree, she is taking AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics. “MTDA has given me the opportunity to introduce myself to courses that Laurel doesn’t offer, and be more competitive with students at AA or AAA schools for college,” stated Arrowsmith.

“Ava is a spotlight kid,” said Edgemond. Not only does she carry a 4.365 GPA, with all high A’s in her MTDA courses, she is involved in pep band, drama (managing the sound for school plays and musicals), speech, debate, and honor society. As an accomplished oboeist, Ava received the Arts Without Boundaries Standout Student Award last fall.

For all of her accomplishments, her advice to future MTDA students is simple and straightforward, “you need to put yourself out there and ask your teacher the questions when you need to. The teachers are on top of it, but they just aren’t right there in the moment like they would be in person so you have to be patient.” Ava found the website easy to navigate and the services, including tutoring, to be very helpful. 

Ava is graduating with the class of 2023 and will be heading off to MSU-Bozeman in the fall to study business. She is interested in HR, where she can help people, be a problem-solver, and help improve team performance. Edgemond is confident in Ava’s future success, his advice to her, “Keep on keeping on, you’re on the road and you know how to drive.” 

Casey Lunceford: 2021 Recipient of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence

Casey LuncefordRonan High School vocational agriculture teacher Casey Lunceford is among 18 educators across the nation who were selected as recipients of a 2021 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.

As part of the prize, Lunceford will be awarded $15,000 and his program will receive $35,000. He also received a Yellow U.S. General mechanics tool cart with a customized panel commemorating the award.

Lunceford is the first teacher from Montana to claim one of the Harbor Freight awards, which were first presented in 2017.

Full News Article

Matthew Phillips of White Sulphur Springs HS

matthew phillips
Matthew Phillips White Sulphur Springs High School, class of 2021 (enrollment 71)

Matthew graduated from White Sulphur Springs High School, a school with 71 students, this past spring as co-valedictorian with high honors. A previous principal was instrumental in introducing first his older brother and sister to MTDA and Matthew was eager to follow suit.

He started taking classes from MTDA his freshman year because he wanted to push himself further. Over his high school career, Matthew took 21 MTDA courses, ranging from American History, English III, and Creative Writing to finishing up with AP Calculus, AP Computer Science, and Joy and Beauty of Computing (Dual Credit) this spring. 

Upon graduation this spring, he sent a note to all of his MTDA teachers, 

“Thank you so much for all that you have done for those, like me, that wanted to push themselves further than traditional classes at their schools would have allowed. I hope that you continue your work, and know that you definitely helped me gain a higher education than I would have otherwise in high school. Once again, thank you so much for your hard work and dedication to the students.”

Matthew is now attending Montana State on a full-ride scholarship (the Bair Family Scholarship), studying Computer Science with plans to work in software development.

Audrey Oltrogge of Stanford High School

Audrey Oltrogge
Audrey Oltrogge
Stanford High School, Class of 2019

Audrey graduated from Stanford High School, a school with an enrollment of 30, in 2019. Her guidance counselor introduced Audrey and many of her classmates to MTDA to expand their academic options with a wider variety of courses than a school this size could offer locally. Stanford also supported these students by providing study hall periods and local teacher support.

As a result, Audrey took ten MTDA courses over all four years of high school, eight of which were world languages. She credits these language courses for broadening her global perspective and for getting into two different study abroad programs, including the Congressional Bundestag Youth Exchange in Germany where she spent her gap year.

Audrey became the very first student in Montana to be awarded a scholarship from the nationally recognized Future of School organization. This scholarship rewards students for their courage to forge new learning pathways using online learning to enhance their academic success.  Future of School required recipients to submit a self-produced video describing their education challenges and successes.  Audrey’s can be viewed at

Today Audrey continues her studies at the University of Utah, majoring in anthropology with an archaeological science emphasis. She plans to stay in school for a masters program and then work for the BLM or forest service. 

“I highly encourage anyone who has the opportunity to take online courses; they open doors for you that you would not have had otherwise, and if you have the chance, taking these courses can change your life in many different ways.” 

10/16/2019: MTDA Closed Thursday-Friday!

Hello from MTDA offices in Missoula!

Per our academic calendars, MTDA will be closed October 17-18, 2019, for the statewide professional development and teacher conference week.  Closed means that:

  • The MTDA offices in Missoula are closed until 8 am, Monday, October 21, 2019.
  • The MTDA support desk will be lightly monitored for emergencies.  Helpdesk services will be fully active again at 8 am, Monday, October 21, 2019.
  • Teachers are not expected to answer emails during the break. However, some/many will likely track email.
  • Grading services for credit recovery will not be available.
  • The online classrooms will remain open, 24/7.

Thank you!

MTDA Offices Closed for Independence Day

Attention all users: Per our academic calendar, MTDA offices are closed from July 4 to July 7 for Independence Day.  During that time, teachers will be delayed in returning emails and the office staff will not be available.

MTDA staff will lightly monitor the MTDA helpdesk, however, users should expect to receive answers on July 8th, when offices reopen.

Online classrooms will remain open during the entire break.

We wish you and yours a wonderful Independence Day weekend!

05/24/2019: MTDA Closed for Memorial Day Weekend

Attention all users:

Montana Digital Academy’s offices will be closed from 5:00 pm, Friday, May 24, 2018, until 8:00 am on Tuesday, May 28, 2017.  During that time, there will be no teacher services or help desk services available.

Please send any questions to the support desk,  Questions and concerns will be answered when the offices open on Tuesday.