Behind every graduate is a number of dedicated teachers. We’re grateful to our iSucceed instructors, and that’s why we take a moment to shine the light on them in this Teacher Spotlight blog series.
This month, we are excited to spotlight Mrs. Holly Mortimer, an English instructor who is well liked by our students. Learn more about her with these fun questions below.
Mrs. Holly Mortimer, iSucceed English Instructor
1. How many years have you been a teacher?
I taught for 13 years in brick and mortar classrooms, and have been at iSucceed since it opened in 2008.
2. What are some of your hobbies?
Trail running, skiing, reading, cooking, architecture and home design.
3. Why do you enjoy teaching iSucceed students?
I am impressed by so many of my students who have made the proactive decision to seek out a high school situation that works for them, whether it be because of personal or medical challenges, or outside interests that they are pursuing. I am amazed at how so many of our students juggle multiple commitments–work, family, children, health conditions, education—with grace and discipline. I am proud to be a part of that.
4. What are some benefits you see in online education?
Online education isn’t for everyone at all times, but all of us will have times in our lives when it works for us. Traditional high school works great for some students; online education is there for the rest of us.
5. Have you had a moment when you felt you made an impact on a student’s life at iSucceed?
I had a student who was so committed to his English coursework. He took every opportunity to ask for clarification and input, and he revised all of his projects multiple times. He did this while working full time at a meat packing plant on the night shift
When his mom became ill in Mexico, he had to leave the U.S. to visit her and was concerned that he wouldn’t have enough time to maintain his high grades in his courses. Because our system is flexible, I was able to assure him that he could get caught up when he returned two weeks later. Despite my reassurance, he still walked every other day to an internet cafe to log in and complete some coursework.
When he returned, he sent me a beautiful pottery piece he had brought back; more importantly, he caught right up and earned an A in my senior English course. I was so proud to be part of his success. I know without iSucceed, he would not have been able to graduate from high school.
6. Share with us a piece of advice for your iSucceed students:
Log in every day and read your messages and announcements. Don’t break the chain of doing that one thing every day at around the same time. Once you are in, it’s easier to get some work done; getting started is the hardest part.
- Do you have an iSucceed teacher you’d like to give a shoutout to? Share with us in the comments below!
Behind every graduated high school student is a number of dedicated teachers and counselors.
February 6–10 is National School Counselor Week. To celebrate, we want to spotlight iSucceed’s Guidance Counselor, Crystal Sistoni. Learn more about her below.
Crystal Sistoni, iSucceed Guidance Counselor
Ms. Sistoni is an outdoors enthusiast who has been a resident of Idaho for over 20 years, and a teacher at iSucceed for about three years. Some of her hobbies include camping, fishing, backpacking, rafting and being with friends and family.
“I have lived in the Boise area for the last 20 years and fall in love with this city more and more each day,” said Ms. Sistoni. “I am so fortunate to live in an area where I can do so many of my favorite things.”
Ms. Sistoni said that she became a counselor to fulfill her greatest passion—to help others succeed.
“I became a school counselor to help Idaho’s youth through this huge step in their lives,” said Ms. Sistoni. “I have had many of the same struggles that my students have and if I was able to get through this, I want to help others succeed, so they can move on to bigger and better things this life has to offer.”
As the main guidance counselor for iSucceed, Ms. Sistoni connects with each student personally to promote their academic, social and personal development. Her favorite part about counseling iSucceed students is that she gets to work with unique individuals.
“I like that we have different ways of communication [at iSucceed],” said Ms. Sistoni. “Most people think I can’t develop a relationship with students online, but I have developed some of the best relationships this way. I commend these students for going to school despite challenges that they might deal with on a daily basis. I work with students on all areas of the spectrum, so that makes every day different. Each one of my students is unique and special and I love getting the opportunity to learn about them.”
One of the most rewarding things about being a counselor to Ms. Sistoni is those moments when she empowers students graduate who otherwise may not have finished high school, as she recalls in this story:
“There was a student who was scheduled to graduate this year who was focusing too much on what was going wrong with in life and not focusing on school,” said Ms. Sistoni. “We were able to discuss this student’s concerns and issues and with time and a solid plan, this student ended up graduating. It’s impacting students on this level, the level that will help them move forward in life that I value and cherish the most. The caveat with this student was this was their last shot at graduation because they were going to age out of the public school system, so this was definitely a highlight for this student and myself.”
What Does a Guidance Counselor Do?
The real question is, what can’t Ms. Sistoni do? At iSucceed, our counselor works with students individually to map out graduation plans, provide support for academic and personal needs, and help prepare for life after high school, including applying for colleges, interview tips or obtaining financial aid. Whenever students have a need, they can always turn to Ms. Sistoni for help.
How Do I Communicate With Counselors and Staff at iSucceed?
We often hear this question, and we’re proud to say you are likely to receive more personalized support here at iSucceed than at your traditional school. You can learn more about it in this blog.
Because we have one devoted counselor, getting help is simple at iSucceed! Ms. Sistoni’s contact info is accessible straight from the Parent Student Portal (PSP) homepage, the main page students and parents use to log into their classes. Ms. Sistoni and your teachers are all available via phone calls, emails and instant messaging, so that you can get quick responses to your questions.
This week, we hope you take some time to thank the school counselors who have helped you! Send them an email, or even give them a shoutout in the comments below! Either way, we hope you make them feel appreciated.
At iSucceed, we have several talented students working hard to earn their diplomas. But as we all know, behind every successful student are countless teachers helping them along the way. In this series, we highlight one of our many incredible teachers.
Meet Mrs. Jina Reeves, iSucceed instructor, Teacher of the Year 2016
Mrs. Reeves has been with iSucceed for two years now, teaching Criminology, Psychology and Sociology. She enjoys what she refers to as “old lady hobbies,” including baking and cross stitching. But Mrs. Reeves has fun with her cross stitching by designing modern shows, such as Bob’s Burgers or Star Wars.
In addition to her hobbies, another thing Mrs. Reeves loves is being a teacher at iSucceed, especially because of the different types of students she gets to meet and help mentor.
“Our students are all so inspiring that it makes it easy to do whatever necessary to help them succeed,” said Mrs. Reeves. “These students are not only persevering but are wildly succeeding in school in the face of adversity… I don’t feel like teaching them is work, it’s a pleasure and an honor.”
One of her favorite things about being an online instructor is the ability she has to provide more personalized support to each of her students.
“I believe that I have stronger connections to iSucceed’s students than I would have otherwise had in a traditional brick and mortar,” said Mrs. Reeves. “You have to make a stronger effort at communication skills and not solely be dependent on physical presence, which can, in turn, offers opportunity to bring teachers and students together.”
In fact, in one instance this past school year, Mrs. Reeves recalls working with one student who was struggling to pass his courses. Although he had gotten far behind, she wouldn’t let him give up on his grades.
The end of this school year, I had a student that was coming in every day for about two weeks and was pretty far behind in his classes because, as he admitted, he didn’t work much in the middle of the quarter. I explained how many lessons he needed to do daily to finish his courses. We worked together on two projects and prepping for his final exam in History.
Then, on the last day of school, I got an email around 8 p.m. from the student saying that he passed all of his classes. He was so excited, the next day, I checked his grades and saw that he finished his classes, and he passed with 2 C’s and an A… the A was in History. 🙂
With such dedication from her end, it’s no wonder that Mrs. Reeves was the recipient of the Teacher of the Year Award, though she told us it was a huge surprise.
“I was dumbfounded, I think I was blushing for the rest of the day,” said Mrs. Reeves. “I am so very honored and thankful to the staff, teachers, and (especially) the students.”
When it comes to advice, Mrs. Reeves has just a few words for our students and graduates:
Party on, Wayne.
Ms. Ferrari is an online instructor here at iSucceed who loves writing, reading, gardening and traveling. She is also from Australia where she taught for over 20 years. While she loved her job in Australia, she traveled around the globe to help students achieve their academic goals here at iSucceed.
For the past two years, Ms. Ferrari has taught Speech and other courses at iSucceed. Ms. Ferrari told us that being the Speech and Senior project teacher has helped her gain a special love for our students because of their creativity, diversity and hard-working attitudes.
“Many students (at iSucceed) have struggled in traditional brick and mortar settings, they tell me that they didn’t like school and under achieved. At iSucceed I see them thrive; not only do they enjoy learning, they earn good results and this is very rewarding for me as a teacher,” said Ms. Ferrari. “Teaching Speech means that my students deliver video recorded speeches and I learn so much about what bright, diverse and clever people they are. I am so often taken aback by the level of creativity and the interpersonal skills my students have.”
Since she started, Ms. Ferrari has loved her job. To her, the best part of teaching is seeing students find success in their lives.
“Empowering young people through positive and constructive interaction is the most fulfilling thing for me,” said Ms. Ferrari. “When I meet up with my former students and see how successful they are in their careers it is the greatest reward.”
Just last year, Ms. Ferrari reaped that most rewarding part of being a teacher. When she went to her hometown in Australia for a vacation, her former students decided to surprise her with a visit. To her astonishment, these students who had struggled in school were now very successful. Check out the story below:
“I recently travelled back to Australia where I am from for a family visit. When word got out that I was coming, many of my former students arranged to meet up with me. They thanked me for teaching them the skills they needed as they moved on through school and the workplace. One student who was a refugee from Africa… He told me that being in my class helped him learn how to write essays so well that when he went to college he was one of the few students in his year who did not struggle. He did very well at college and now has an impressive corporate job. As a teacher nothing could make me happier than knowing I was able to have a positive impact on the lives of my students.”
Ms. Ferrari is excited to continue working with students at iSucceed and one day hopes to see one of you return with your great success story to share with her. When it comes to advice, she has one important thing to tell you: Dream big and don’t give up!
Dare to do as much as you are able, apply yourself and never give up. We should always strive for the best results that we can achieve in everything we do.
- Do you have a teacher you love here at iSucceed Virtual High School? Share with us in the comments below!
At iSucceed we have pretty incredible students who successfully graduate each year. But as we all know, behind every great student is a dedicated teacher, and that’s why we started this Teacher Spotlight series so we could bring to light our caring, highly-qualified instructors whose service often goes unnoticed.
Mr. Joe Rollins, history instructor
To start our Teacher Spotlight Series, we bring you the inspiring story of one of our long-time instructors, Mr. Joe Rollins. Mr. Rollins is a social studies instructor who loves fishing, camping and reading about history—his favorite subject, as you may have guessed. What you may not have guessed is that Mr. Rollins has gone through some tough times, but he made it through and is now dedicated to helping students do the same.
Mr. Rollins was born in a small town in Tennessee to a big, loving family of three older brothers, a sister and plenty of aunts and uncles. Unfortunately, his mother and sister passed away in a car accident when he was just five years old.
When Mr. Rollins was 16 years old, he had to move out on his own. He stated that it was hard work having to support himself and still get his education.
“When I was 16, I worked two jobs, but I stayed in school and graduated on schedule,” Mr. Rollins said. “I understand how hard it can be for some students. I was there myself.”
After graduating high school, Mr. Rollins said he went into construction for about 20 years until his back prevented him from being able to work any longer, leading him to his dream job as a teacher.
“In 2003, I had spinal surgery,” said Mr. Rollins. “After the surgery, I could not do hard physical work anymore. I had always wanted to be a teacher, so I went back to school and graduated in 2008. My best day ever was the day I was hired to work as a teacher at iSucceed!”
Since he started teaching, Mr. Rollins has made a lasting impression on the lives of many students. You will often find him at our Pizza and Perks events helping students with schoolwork, as you can see in this photo.
And it’s not just students who attend our events who reap the benefits of Mr. Rollin’s wisdom. iSucceed graduate Nicole Griffith said that at her old school, she was extremely shy and felt uncomfortable participating in the classroom, but Mr. Rollins helped her gain the confidence she needed to graduate with good grades. She even presented the student speech in the 2014 ceremony! Check out this exerpt from her speech below.
“Mr. Rollins, you know something about me that no one would believe now. I’m shy…(but) you were the first teacher I was able to ask a question. After you were so helpful and encouraging, I could ask another and then another. Thank you so much for helping me find my voice and courage to be a leader”
– Nicole Griffith, 2014 graduate and student of the year
When it comes to advice, Mr. Rollins wants to tell you just one thing: Don’t give up on your education.
“If I could tell every teen in the world something, I would tell them that it is never too late to get an education. If I had gone to college right out of high school, I would have had so much more success. Learn to work with your mind and not with your back. Never give in or give up. Work hard to be the best you can be! It will pay off for the rest of your life!”
– Joe Rollins, iSucceed instructor
- Do you have an iSucceed teacher or staff member you’d like us to spotlight? Share with us in the comments below!
Over the summer, iSucceed Virtual High School got a new principal! For many of you here at iSucceed, it’s someone you’ve come to know and love, so we thought we’d let you learn a little more about the life of iSucceed’s new principal.
Mrs. Katie Allison, head of school
Mrs. Allison has been with iSucceed since its opening in 2008, and since has helped many students excel in their learning. When she is not teaching, Mrs. Allison enjoys spending time with her family and—like a true Idohoan—loves being outdoors. In the picture below, you can see Mrs. Allison conquering the famous Sawtooth Wilderness hike.
Although she has served many roles since receiving her education in 1997, Mrs. Allison told us she is particularly excited for her new role at iSucceed.
“Through the years, I’ve seen several sets of students go through all four years with us, and I’ve been inspired by their motivation and tenacity,” said Mrs. Allison. “I’ve also come to know the iSucceed teachers and staff and they are some of the finest I’ve ever worked with. In fact, when I was asked to become head of school for iSucceed, my main reasons for accepting included the students and the people I would be working with.”
As the new principal, Mrs. Allison said she has some great plans to continue engagement in student’s learning, including online lab time for students to get more one-on-one time with teachers for more personal support, and implementing a 24 hour response turnaround on school days so that you will be able to communicate with your teachers even more than before.
When it comes to advice, Mrs. Allison wants to tell you students an important thing for acheiving success at iSucceed: Never be afraid to reach out to your teachers.
“If students are willing to communicate with their teachers…they will find that our teachers often go the extra mile to help them, and are there for them when they want to learn. Our teachers even added extra online lab hours to reach out to you; they are that dedicated!”
–Katie Allison, head of school
- Do you have a great experience with Mrs. Allison you’d like to tell us? Share your story in the comments below!
I have worked for iSucceed since the school’s start in 2008. Currently, I teach social studies subjects and have served as a team leader, department head, and club facilitator over the years. I’ve been teaching since 1998 and enjoy working with a variety of students, subjects, and environments! I first started teaching online back in 2002, when the notion of online schooling was rare.
I love teaching online for many reasons. It gives me additional time to spend with my son and husband while maintaining a career. It also provides the opportunity to work with a variety of students. Finally, it enhances my interest in educational technology. In my spare time, I enjoy outdoor activities, exercise, music, reading, new technology, pop culture, learning and art.