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Student Spotlight: Martin Fulbright of Chester-Joplin-Inverness High School

Martin Fulbright
Chester-Joplin-Inverness High School, Class of 2024

Martin Fulbright and his fellow students at CJI Public Schools live in and around the three small, Hi-Line communities of Chester, Joplin, and Inverness. It is the kind of place where everyone knows one another. Martin’s MTDA Facilitator, Barb Vinson, notes that Martin’s family lives behind her, so she has known him since he was a youngster. “He’s always been a really great kid,” she said. “He’s involved in everything.” 

No doubt, Martin’s college applications last fall were impressive. In addition to taking on extra and advanced course work, Martin’s activities include 4-H, all-state band, tennis, speech and debate, basketball, and national honor society. He is also very active in service through his church and recently became an Eagle Scout. “He is our class valedictorian this year, but he’s also super helpful to other students. He even has great dad jokes!” Vinson says.

Martin’s current coursework with MTDA includes Physics, AP Calculus, and German II. He has developed a set of strategies to stay focused and productive. “Make sure you have time specifically for each class. Stay on schedule, but don’t be afraid to take a break,” he advises.  One memorable moment in Martin’s distance learning experience was the completion of a physics project – a Rube Goldberg Machine featuring elements of physics, water, and boat mechanics. This intricate display was constructed in his family’s kitchen! It’s proof that distance learning isn’t just about sitting at a computer all day; you can still have hands-on fun and foster creativity.

In the spirit of service, Martin plans to embark on a two-year mission before pursuing higher education at Columbia University in New York. His experience with distance learning has undoubtedly shaped these aspirations, instilling a sense of self-reliance and adventure for navigating future endeavors. From the Hi-Line to the Big Apple, we know Martin is heading towards a bright future.

Student Spotlight: Karly Alder of Charlo High School

Student Karly Alder of Charlo

Karly Alder
Charlo High School, Class of 2024

Karly’s introduction to MTDA was with Middle School French. This was several years ago, in 2017, before COVID-19, so the online learning environment was entirely new to her. However, she quickly learned the benefits of having the MTDA option. She continued with language classes through MTDA in high school, switching to Spanish. She has big goals for going to college, so wanted to meet the foreign language requirement many schools are looking for.

As a junior, she took the Dual Credit College Writing Course in the fall and Digital Photography in the spring. She admits the writing course was tough but “I’m so glad I took it, my writing skills really improved.”

“I love our small town school, I really do, but our opportunities are really limited, they don’t offer AP or honors courses, MTDA has been such a big help getting me started on that stuff, expanding my knowledge and horizons and I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity to get a jumpstart on college and figure out what interests me,” said Alder. 

Steve Love, the Superintendent at Charlo High School, credits Karly’s success to being a self-starter with a wonderful attitude. “She’s one of those kids every teacher wants in their class, one of those kids you don’t mind having on an overnight class trip!” And it’s more than just the good grades (all A’s in MTDA courses to date), Love reports that she’s humble, helps other students, and has a great sense of humor. “She never complains about the work, even when her classmates may. Other students notice that,” says Love.

Her biggest surprise when taking that first MTDA course online was how “it’s all up to you,” said Alder, “to succeed you have to be organized and keep track.” She credits those learned organizational skills for helping her in other areas of her life as well, balancing classes, sports, and other extracurriculars.

Alder plays volleyball, runs track, is a member of National Honor Society and student council, and is active with Future Health Professionals (HOSA)– they just medaled at state, and she is off to Business Professionals Association (BPA) nationals next month.

“She (Karly) gets involved and stays involved, you can always count on her,” boasts Love.

Charlo High School gets Karly for one more year before she is off to college. She doesn’t know where yet but she would like to ultimately go into the medical field. In the meantime, she leaves her classmates this piece of advice:

“Don’t be afraid to take a class that you don’t know. Get out of your comfort zone, it really is exciting to try something that is completely new or try something hard,” shares Alder, “find what’s out there.”

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.” 

Sienna Conaghan of West Yellowstone High School

West Yellowstone High School
Class of 2023


Sienna was first introduced to MTDA when she took the Language Sampler class in middle school, a requirement at West Yellowstone– a small district with under 300 students– when they were down a language teacher. She found she liked the self-paced nature of online learning, which actually helped her focus, giving her a chance to re-set when she needed.

She decided mid-way through her freshman year that she wanted to graduate early, as her older brother and older sister had, and MTDA was the only way to accomplish that goal. So she got busy. Sienna has completed 14 courses, from Latin and German that first year, to electives like sports marketing and digital photography, and dual-credit History. This fall she is taking AP Government and French 3, and plans to add journalism to her schedule next spring. and will be graduating early, next June, 2023.  

Terry Harris, the MTDA site facilitator at West Yellowstone, describes Sienna as a dedicated student. “She wants to push herself and explore her options. MTDA offers the opportunity  to explore.” Harris’ role is to support the MTDA-enrolled students who come to her classroom during dedicated periods. She monitors their time on task and grades and will contact a parent if there is an issue. There never has been with Sienna. “She’s a student I don’t have to chase. Instead, she’s in my office asking which class she should take next.” Harris credits Sienna’s individual drive for her success. And it shows, 11 of those 14 final grades were A’s.

Sienna stays busy outside of class too, holding a full-time job over the summer, and playing both volleyball and basketball. Time management has been Sienna’s biggest challenge, juggling her course load, especially during basketball season. She admits that it’s hard to manage classes, sports, and social life. “I had to figure out a schedule on my own, figuring out the pace of each class so that I’m not drowning on a Sunday night,” says Conaghan. Her advice for other students is “manage your time well and set time aside for the work. It’s ok to say ‘no’ to hanging out with friends if you have schoolwork to do!” 

After graduation next spring, Sienna plans to study journalism. She is applying to colleges in Montana and around the country. Wherever she ends up, the sky is the limit for Sienna’s future!

Bryce Kammerzell of CJI High School

Bryce Kammerzell

Chester-Joplin-Inverness High School (CJI)
Class of 2022
Attending Stanford University


By his sophomore year at CJI, Bryce Kammerzell knew he was going to have to take language courses that his small school didn’t offer if he was going to apply to out-of-state schools for college. He signed up for Spanish I through MTDA that fall to meet that requirement, but also as “a test to see if MTDA was for me.” 

Over the next three years, he enrolled and completed 13 more MTDA classes. “I loved the freedom it gives a student. You get a week’s worth of assignments on Monday, all due Sunday night at midnight. It’s up to you to decide when and how you want to do it,” Kammerzell explained. He feels like it made his life easier, and he feels better prepared for college.

He describes himself as a hardworking, independent student. His teachers describe him similarly– “hardworking,” “motivated,” “focused,” and “responsible.”

And while Bryce admits that self-pacing might not be for everyone, he does want to dispel the myths that online classes are harder and lack a personal connection. While MTDA courses are asynchronous and you do have to manage your time and initiate contact with the teacher outside of school, the classes were not any more difficult, and he found the teachers to be very responsive. “They expect you to be in touch.”

“MTDA opened up a lot of doors for me. I could take classes that really interested me,” said Kammerzell.

In the fall of his junior year, Bryce took his first computer science course through MTDA, AP Computer Science I. He was hooked, and continued to explore his new interest through more MTDA courses, Web Design and Dual Credit Computer Science I. Bryce now attends Stanford University where he plans to major in computer science.Without MTDA I wouldn’t have discovered computer science.”

Way to go Bryce! All of CJI and MTDA are rooting for you.

Ian Lafley of Lincoln County High School

Lincoln County High School, Eureka
Class of 2022 


Ian took his first two credit recovery courses through MTDA two years ago as a sophomore. MTDA’s credit recovery courses are designed for students whose education has been interrupted, either by life’s circumstances or by failing a course, providing a pathway to high school credits needed for graduation. He’s back taking credit recovery– English and World History– this year in order to graduate on time this summer. The change in Ian as a student from then to now is what prompted Lou Ann Gay, the MTDA support person at Lincoln County High School, to nominate him for a student spotlight. 

“He’s a much different student now. Yes, he’s under pressure to graduate, but he’s also more engaged and has taken ownership of his education.” This maturity has moved him from a “guess and go” student to one that will identify what he missed on a quiz, go back to his notes and learn it. 

Ian admits to just getting by in his classes sophomore year. It was his first online learning experience so there were a lot of unknowns which led to some stress. He credits his success this year to his motivation to graduate but also to be seen as a student that pushes toward his goal. And he appreciates the support he feels he’s getting from his MTDA teachers and Ms. Gay. “It’s an interesting phenomenon, when people are supporting you, you want to try even harder to prove you are worth the support.”

MTDA’s credit recovery courses are getting Ian to the finish line. “It really proved that even if I fell behind, I could catch up. It may be a long road, but it is possible!” His advice to other students taking an MTDA course for the first time, is “keep your pace, slow down enough to learn, and not rush through. If you fail a quiz, learn from it. Things happen, but it isn’t impossible!”

After graduation Ian plans to work for a couple of years, saving money for a culinary program. Beyond that, he dreams of working as a chef, traveling the world, and creating signature dishes before settling down “for a bit” to open his own restaurant. 

We’ll be cheering all of those dreams on, Ian.


Maddie Griffiths of Three Forks High School

Maddie Griffiths

As an eighth-grader, Maddie came to Kristy Powell, the counselor at Three Forks High School and asked how she could get ahead. “She wanted to get started!” Maddie wanted to know if there was anything she could do over the summer before ninth grade. They wouldn’t typically place a freshman in MTDA courses, but Maddie’s focus and drive far exceed typical. After talking to her middle school teachers, Powell enrolled her in Geometry and Earth Science in the summer of 2020. Maddie earned A’s in both, before coming into the high school as a Freshman.

She has continued to take two-three MTDA courses each term, many in the sciences and health sciences as her future career interests lie in medicine. Maddie also enjoyed the chance to take creative writing and journalism, both helped her develop different writing skills from her regular English classes. “I was looking for more of a challenge from my classes, as well as a way to get ahead,” said Maddie. MTDA gave her the opportunity to take classes she wouldn’t have been able to take otherwise. “And the connection I had with teachers was like nothing I had ever had before.”

Maddie’s strategy, which she would encourage other students to do as well, is to email each of her teachers at the beginning of the term to introduce herself and tell them a little bit about herself. She has found the MTDA teachers to be very communicative with individualized responses. Other advice for students thinking about enrolling in a MTDA course would be to just try it. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It might feel intimidating but that’s what they’re there for and they are happy to help.”

In addition to her stellar academic performance, Maddie also competes for the school tennis and speech teams,  placing second in state in speech (class B) this year as a sophomore. 

Three Forks has a significant number (almost 20%) of their students enrolled in original credit courses with MTDA. Their administration is happy to be able to give students more academic options.

“Big picture, I am so thankful to MTDA for opening doors. My school only offers two or three AP courses, MTDA has put me a step ahead and better prepared me for college.” Maddie is interested in psychiatry and psychology and plans to study biology or health science in undergrad before going on to a physician’s assistant program.


Emma Beebe of Gallatin High School

Emma came to Gallatin High School in the fall of 2020 when her family moved from out of state. During Covid, she chose the fully virtual option taught by GHS teachers because of family risk. She was no stranger to online learning; prior to Gallatin, she attended JeffCo Virtual Academy in Colorado. “Being in our small local high school wasn’t great for me so I tried this option.” She went on to say, “it helped me overcome the immediate challenges, but even more importantly and longer-term it has helped me mature and become a better student.” This school year (2021-2022) when GHS went fully back to in-person learning, Emma petitioned and was granted fully remote status. She enrolled in three MTDA courses in the fall and is currently enrolled in five this spring.

Patty Maddock, the Online Learning Coordinator at Gallatin High School, nominated Emma for this student spotlight feature because of her exceptional academic performance. “Emma is a remote-only student who received A’s in all of her classes last semester even earning 100% in Native American Studies. I’ve never seen a 100% in any class! She is on top of her work all of the time and communicates well if there is any kind of an issue.” 

“I have become so familiar with online learning now it suits me better,” reported Emma recently. She has appreciated MTDA’s format and the teachers, finding them very willing and eager to help, and more than happy to fill in any gaps and/or jump on a google meet. In fact, Emma chose MTDA’s program over other online options for her most difficult courses because of the strong teacher support.  

Personally, Emma loves the flexibility it has given her to be more involved in family life, especially with her sister living with Downs Syndrome. She also recognizes how online learning has made her more independent and she feels it has better prepared her for college. “It has made me take ownership of my own learning and taught me how to advocate for myself. This has made me stronger not just in school but overall communicating with others.”

Emma’s advice to other students taking an MTDA course for the first time? “Communication is key. Reach out to your teacher when you need them, don’t be afraid to ask questions.” 

After graduation this year, Emma will be going to Montana State University to study nursing. Her end goal is to be a neonatal nurse practitioner.

Nina Sederberg of Roberts High School

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.

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