It’s no secret that all of us here at Instructure believe teachers are superheroes, but this year, they took it to a whole new level. Our educator community blazed new trails, revamping the way they teach, learning new technology and tools on the fly, and keeping students engaged both near and far.
Each year, we award several educators with the title “Educator of the Year” to show our appreciation for the outstanding teachers out there who are going above and beyond. This year’s awards recognize educators from all over the world who are preparing students for the workforce, supporting student success and achievement in an evolving education landscape, and embracing technology in the classroom in new and exciting ways.
This week, we proudly announced our 2021 Educators of the Year and we’re amazed by the way they’ve redefined traditional classroom activities to help students meet their academic goals, supported inclusion for at-risk populations, and sparked curiosity both in and out of the classroom.
The 2021 Educator of the Year Award winners are:
Angela Girol - Second Grade Teacher, Central Elementary School (Elizabeth, PA)
Angela Girol has taught in the Elizabeth Forward School District for fifteen years, setting a standard for redefining traditional classroom activities to help students meet their academic goals. Angela utilizes personalized learning strategies to accomplish this, creating a “Personalized Learning Time'' block within her daily schedule where students can work on the skills and standards that they need assistance with or seek enrichment opportunities. With the adoption of Canvas in 2019, Angela demonstrated to her colleagues, students, and parents the power of this robust learning management system. In the district’s first year of Canvas implementation, she expressed interest in utilizing Badgr, the badging component within Canvas. Not only did she create badges that tied to second grade math standards, but she also utilized badging pathways to show students their progression of learning.
Jamie Morlock - Fifth Grade Teacher, Sam Jamison Middle School (Pearland, TX)
Jamie led the fifth grade math department to new heights during the pandemic. When the school closed down in Spring 2020, she pivoted seamlessly to designing content that was differentiated and allowed students to express their interests, creating choice with digital math menus. The broader school community is now following her lead by designing models with individualized immediate feedback on skills that students struggle with most. As a Title I school, Jamie supports at-risk populations, constantly working to improve her craft by attending professional development, starting book studies, and even checking out TikTok for recent exciting ideas or introducing fun activities like “Math Meme Monday.” She recently`piloted a learning platform that takes words out of math and dives deeper into conceptual understanding, which has since been adopted across the district.
Suzanne Denny - Health & Physical Education Teacher, Harry S Truman High School (Bucks County, PA)
When COVID-19 hit and schools like Harry S Truman High School had to quickly pivot, Suzanne sprang into action, becoming a leader for her community in its transition to Canvas LMS. Not only did Suzanne change how she delivered instruction in her own classroom, she also embraced mastery paths and built fully shareable courses for her own department. What’s most laudable is how she stepped up to become the tech troubleshooter and sounding board. Suzanne became the go-to person throughout the district for staff and students alike -- the Canvas guru. Colleagues describe her as a shining light through many hardships over the past year, and in the midst of everything, she introduced a new Drivers Education program for the district.
Carol Stallworth - Chemistry, Student Life Skills, Hillsborough Community College (Plant City, FL)
Carol is known to be dynamic and engaging whether she’s teaching in-person lecture courses, fully asynchronous online courses, or synchronous live courses. Knowing that online learning presents new challenges for some students, she not only provides instruction, but also uses technology to facilitate a sense of community and caring. She regularly uses the Canvas Quiz feature to ask students about their well-being and to self-assess their learning. She records lectures and then uses tools like in-video quizzing and in-video discussion to keep students engaged. In addition to teaching Chemistry and Student Life Skills, Carol is dedicated to inclusivity and equity. She’s an active part of the school’s first encounter faculty program, an advisor to the Collegiate 100 club, and a HOPE scholars’ mentor.
Rami Salahieh - Cyber Security, Ivy Tech Community College (Valparaiso, IN)
Rami’s passion for teaching and learning is contagious. Colleagues and students say he goes above and beyond every single day, always with a smile and a desire to inspire. He regularly provides one-on-one mentoring to students, writes recommendation letters on their behalf and he advises them on their long- term goals. With a rich heritage and cultural identity as Armenian, Syrian, Kurdish, and Turkish, Rami embodies an open mindedness and inclusivity to his classroom that embraces all religions, ethnicities and genders. Noted for being at the forefront of new technological and pedagogical approaches, Rami also encourages his students to lead and push the limits with technological tasks. As a result, his students earn a place at regional and nationals 3-5 times a year.
Lucas Myers - Human Anatomy, Physiology, Lower Columbia College (Longview, WA)
Lucas not only redefined how science should be taught at Lower Columbia College, but helped to shape the future of STEM education at 2 year colleges across the state. Prior to the pandemic Lucas had developed fully General Biology and Human Anatomy/Physiology courses for full online instruction and hybrid instruction. His work on innovative assessment and teaching practices has increased the success rate of the school’s pre-nursing Anatomy/Physiology students, who score 15-20% higher on the national Human Anatomy/Physiology Exam than the national average. When the pandemic hit, he was asked to work with Washington State to quickly set up STEM Communities of Practice (CoPs) for faculty across all of the Washington State Community and Technical Colleges. These CoPs had over 500 faculty participating, relying heavily on Canvas for producing, collaborating, and sharing resources to enhance student learning experience.
Christien Lana Rachid, Director of Innovation, Centro Universitário Academia
Christien has been a teacher for over 10 years, and technology has been a part of his life since he graduated with a degree in IT. Thanks to his background, he always had a pulse on new technologies in edtech. When he joined the university as the Coordinator of Innovation, he saw the need for an LMS and chose Canvas. Adoption of Canvas grew due to the pandemic; in only 2 days, students and teachers knew how to use Canvas. As a result of the partnership that Uniacademia has with Canvas, the university is now opening over 30 online courses.
Mônica Huguein de Araujo Faria - Teacher, Pan American Christian Academy
Monica, who graduated with a degree in Chemistry, never thought that teaching would become her passion. But after becoming a teacher, her desire to learn grew and she discovered the importance of an LMS while getting her masters in instructional design. While teaching at Pan American Christian Academy, she faced a challenge; chemistry, which was once taught over a three year period, had to be taught in a single school year. She turned to Canvas to help and created groups among students, developed their skills, and created a new class environment. Monica was a driving force behind her school adopting Canvas.
Eduardo Cárdenas - Associate Chairman, Mechanical Engineering and Advanced Materials Department, Tec de Monterrey
Eduardo, who has been a professor at Tec de Monterrey for thirty years, has been using Canvas for five years. As director of the Mechanical Engineering and Advanced Materials department, he was responsible for planning and guiding the Canvas training program for 60 teachers. During the pandemic, Eduardo instilled a sense of curiosity in his students through hands-on engineering experiments based on materials and products they were able to find at home. From starting classes with music and inspirational quotes to open discussions about national and international topics in the news, he tries to include a holistic approach to online teaching.
Rocío González - Law professor, Campus Salto del Guaira, Universidad Politécnica y Artística del Paraguay
Thanks to the pandemic, Rocío was introduced to Canvas and discovered it was the best tool to connect with her students and keep them engaged with course content. She closely worked with her students to keep them motivated and ensured they had access to the course content by recording her classes and video conferences. She designed activities for them to work in small groups, and students sent her videos of assessments where they had to recreate court-like debates with their classmates virtually.
Congratulations to this year’s winners! We’re honored to be a small part of the work these educators do every day to support student growth, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.
The Instructure Team