St. Patrick’s Teacher Recognized for Successful Online Learning



As many have moved quickly from in-person classrooms to virtual classrooms due to COVID, the way educators connect with their students has transformed. I would like to share an uplifting story about an exceptional teacher from Portland, MI. Jordan Smith received the My Virtual Learning Success Story grant from the National Society of High School (NSHSS). This grant rewards high school teachers who, faced with a difficult situation and through the trials and tribulations of virtual learning, have succeeded. Smith was one of five educators who were selected to each receive a $ 500 grant.

For the past decade, Jordan Smith has been the senior high school science teacher at St. Patrick’s Catholic School, where he teaches a wide variety of science disciplines including the physical sciences, biology, chemistry, and science. human anatomy. As part of his master’s degree, Smith attended Western Governors University, a fully online school specializing in helping professionals, such as teachers, advance their careers. After graduating in 2019 and a few months into 2020, COVID-19 has hit, and Michigan has become one of the first hot spots.

Smith says he will always remember March 13, 2020, the day the state of Michigan closed all schools to help slow the spread of COVID-19, sending everyone home for what we do. pensions would only be a few weeks. At first, his lessons were taught, recorded, and posted to Google Classroom, while he learned to create short and engaging video lessons. As it became clear that COVID-19 would impact the remainder of the school year, Catholic schools in the Diocese of Grand Rapids made the decision to switch to using Canvas for online learning, which is very detailed, so Smith initially resisted the currency. However, as he began to learn more, he began to see the possibilities it offered to make his work and that of his students easier and more efficient. He actually became the main developer and user of Canvas in his building and is now the one that other teachers come to ask questions.

Smith found he could improve his lessons by pre-scheduling all of his learning material on Canvas, rather than posting it one day at a time like he did with Google Classroom. As a result, he noticed a marked improvement in his lessons in that students now have more ability to take control and take ownership of their own learning. This change has also dramatically improved the workflow of grading homework and keeping students up to date with what’s going on in class. Using the Canvas tools, Smith was able to balance this delicate teaching task. This became invaluable as students, and eventually parts of a class had to be quarantined at different times.

To give you some background on the organization that awarded the grant to Smith, NSHSS is the premier international awards and scholarship program co-founded by Claes Nobel and James Lewis. It offers a lifetime of benefits, pairing the world’s top performing students with high school and college scholarships, events, connections, internships, and career opportunities that start in high school and continue through. college and careers. For more information visit

Disclosure: Jordan Smith is a regular contributor to The Portland Beacon.

Courtesy photo.


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