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Boreal Community Media

Meet Samantha Savoie, a Cook County online educator

Sep 12, 2021 09:42PM ● By Editor
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Exclusive to Boreal Community Media - September 13, 2021

Thanks for taking the time to share a bit about your unique teaching career with Boreal.  What made you decide to become a teacher for an online academy?

I knew I wanted to continue to teach and live in Cook County. I found that an online school would be the perfect fit to continue my passion of teaching while living in the area I most connect with. 

What grade levels/subjects do you teach?

I teach 9th grade English but there are students from many different grade levels in this course. Some students come to BlueSky to complete credit recovery, so I teach some students who are catching up with their high school classes. I also teach a 6th grade writing elective. 

Did the enrollment numbers at your school increase dramatically with the onset of the pandemic last year?  

This year there was not as dramatic of an increase in enrollment. Last year there seemed to be even more uncertainty about how school was going to look, so the numbers dramatically jumped from past years. 

What is the driving factor that you see for students enrolling at your online school?

BlueSky has been around for 20 years as an online school. There have been many  trends of why students enroll throughout the years. Currently it is definitely because of concerns students and families have about distance learning. But there are many students who need to complete credit recovery and it is easier to catch up on credits online due to the flexibility of an online schedule. Some students have commitments like sports that take up time during the day, so it’s important for them to have flexibility with when they complete their school work. 

Is it free for students to attend your online school?

BlueSky is a free, MN charter school.

What is a typical workday like for you?  

I have 4 hours of live sessions a week. This means the rest of my time is spent grading and providing feedback to students through their homework. I spend time ensuring students are staying on top of their English homework and reach out to them to see if they need help with assignments. I love reading so much that I have been leading a student book club too!

Is it hard to stay focused when working from your home?

I don’t mind scheduling my own day and prioritizing what I need to do throughout the week. This would be a hard job to do if I needed to have more of a rigid schedule throughout the day. I used to work at a college admissions office, so I have spent time in front of the computer doing online work in the past. 

Do you feel like you can build the connections with your students and their families just as efficiently as you would if you were teaching in person?   How about with your administrators and coworkers at your school?

I love the connections I make at BlueSky! Many of the students come to an online school because something about their lifestyle does not work in a traditional brick and mortar school. Some students have medical issues, some students have commitments throughout the day, or some other reason for not being able to succeed in a traditional school. Being able to work at their own pace makes students very grateful to be able to succeed in all areas of their life. The average tenure of a teacher at BlueSky is much more than other schools that I have worked at. This means teachers have a lot of knowledge about supporting students and being successful online teachers. I felt so much support in getting started at BlueSky. I do a lot of chatting online with students and colleagues but I still feel very connected with students and the school culture at BlueSky.

What do you feel are the pros and cons of students attending online schools? 

The pros of online schools include the flexibility students have with a non-traditional school experience. Teachers and other staff members are very supportive and have the ability to really be on top of a student’s success in school. The cons would be if a student is simply trying to get a different school experience. Students need to have motivation to make an online school work in their schedule and priorities. It is just as challenging and rigorous as any other school setting. Students who come to BlueSky plan to continue working hard and just need to have a more flexible school experience. 

Are there any words of wisdom that you would like to share with anyone considering a career in online teaching?

I would say any teacher can thrive in an online environment. The students are driven to make the online experience work for them, so they are motivated to be successful. I love the passion teachers and staff have to help students in their BlueSky experience. This isn’t necessarily unique to BlueSky but the way teachers interact with students is unique. I love being an online teacher and it means I am able to teach in Cook County. I am able to still be in a community that I love being involved with.  

To learn more about BlueSky Online where Samantha teaches, follow this link:

https://www.blueskyschool.org/


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