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Student Highlight

Student Highlights: Nina Sederberg

NinaNina took her first MTDA course freshman year of high school. She wanted to do more academically, but the traditional class setting didn’t fully work for her.  At a small school like Roberts, the administrators and staff have the luxury of knowing their students well, and they knew Nina to be a student who was not going to fail, but would continue to struggle with attendance, so they decided to be proactive and enroll her in more MTDA courses. 

Over her high school career, Nina embraced virtual learning because MTDA helped her achieve her academic goals and take courses that her school wasn’t able to offer. She has taken several classes almost every term, from core classes to electives ranging from Health Occupations to Personal Finance. “We bought into personalized learning for students like Nina and ran with it. MTDA has allowed us to better serve students like her,” said Alex Ator, Roberts Superintendent, in a recent interview.

Nina believes that taking these classes has helped her prepare for college and the future in general by strengthening her time management and organizational skills. 

“My experience was rewarding; I impressed myself by accomplishing so much in a short amount of time. Taking these classes meant that I could work ahead and start taking college classes earlier,” Nina shared.

Nina is on track to graduate next June (2022), with many dual credit courses also completed. She plans to finish her associate’s degree in general education and then decide on a major, possibly psychology or counseling. Nina’s advice to other online learners is to “work as hard as you can and if you can work ahead, do it.” 

The performance of Roberts’ students in a statewide program like MTDA is a point of pride for Ator. The class of 2021 had a total of six graduates, four of whom were first generation high school graduates, two of them graduated with the support of MTDA.  “In the end, I get to hand them that piece of paper that no one can take away,” Ator said.

Gianforte Recognizes Buffy Smith of Helena With Spirit of Montana Commendation

Buffy SmithDuring Computer Science Education Week, Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) recognized Buffy Smith of Helena for her dedication to educating Montana students and for encouraging more young people, particularly young women, to study computer science and other STEM fields.

An educator for 27 years, Buffy is breaking down barriers, paving the way for female and minority students to find their way into computer science. With her commitment to her students and her knowledge of computer science, Buffy has created an all-inclusive approach to the subject. She prioritizes encouraging students to work with others who have different views and thus enhance the outcome of a project.

Full News Article

2019 NCWIT National AiC Educator Award Winner Buffy Smith

Buffy SmithNCWIT Aspirations in Computing is pleased to announce that Helena High School Computing Instructor Buffy Smith has been named the recipient of the 2019 NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC) National Educator Award!

Each year, the NCWIT AiC Educator Award publicly celebrates formal and informal educators who encourage high school women’s interest and participation in technology pursuits. To date, nearly 400 educators have been honored for demonstrating an exceptionally strong, consistent, and positive involvement in supporting female students in computer science.

Buffy Smith knows firsthand how challenging it can be for interested students to access computing education when they live in a highly rural state like Montana, because it’s an obstacle she’s faced throughout her career. Buffy first fell in love with computing in high school. A college programming class convinced her to turn this passion into a career, but her college only offered a minor in Computer Science, so she paired that minor with a major in English. After seven years teaching high school English, she was told she could switch to Computer Science if she took some additional summer training. She leapt at the chance, and since then, she has not stopped expanding her knowledge, teaching herself several programming languages and taking graduate classes on Oracle and Python. She has also learned to build robots, fly drones, and use 3D printing technology, because these are topics of particular interest to her students.

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2019 MASSP Principal of the Year – Joel Graves – Lincoln County High School – Eureka – MTDA Board Chair

Joel Graves

On January 28th at the Montana Principals Conference, sponsored by the Montana Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP) and the Montana Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals in Helena, the MASSP Principal of the Year was announced. The award recognizes outstanding leadership of active, front-line principals who have succeeded in providing an exceptional learning opportunity for students.

Mr. Joel Graves, Principal at Lincoln County High School in Eureka, was selected as the recipient of the 2019 Montana Association of Secondary School Principals’ (MASSP) Principal of the Year at the annual Montana Principals Conference held in January 27-29 in Helena. This prestigious award recognizes outstanding school leaders who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students as well as demonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession.

School Administrators of Montana Principal of the Year Page

2018 Montana Digital EdReady Program wins WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) Award

EdReadyEdReady Montana, a student math readiness initiative developed and implemented by Montana Digital Academy, is one of five 2018 recipients of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education Outstanding Work Award.

Since 2004, WICHE has presented the award to colleges, universities, and organizations that implement exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to contemporary challenges in higher education.

MTDA, located at the University of Montana’s Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences, is Montana’s statewide K-12 online education program. Created by the Legislature in 2010, the academy provides online courses to thousands of students each year through their local public schools.

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2018 Blackboard Catalyst Teaching and Learning Award

Blackboard Catalyst AwardSince 2005, the annual Catalyst Awards have recognized innovation and excellence in technology within the Blackboard global community. Among several categories, staff at Blackboard reviewed how different users are engaging with their communities through education.

The Montana Digital Academy were winners of the international Blackboard Inc. Catalyst Award in the teaching and learning category this month for their implementation of a Blackboard software and their newly redesigned credit recovery program.

MTDA’s Mike Agostinelli, Robert Currie, and Jason Neiffer implemented the new program in 2015 and saw an overall increase in student satisfaction.

Newswire Article

Missoula Current Article

Summer Original Credit Guaranteed Enrollment Deadline is today!

Attention site facilitators: As a reminder, Wednesday, June 7, 2017, is the guaranteed enrollment deadline for high school original credit for Summer 2017.  After today at 3:00 pm, MTDA will be sectioning off courses and full courses will be closed to enrollment.

As always, we are eager to answer your questions. Contact support@montanadigitalacademy.org for prompt, friendly service!

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Montana Digital Academy
Phyllis J. Washington College of Education
The University of Montana
32 Campus Drive – Room 365
Missoula, Montana 59812
Phone: 406-203-1812
Fax: 406-203-1815