Shayla Heavner’s students come to her via the world of the web, a path she, too, has navigated with deftness.
An adversity of life drew the Albuquerque native and Albuquerque Academy graduate to online education. It was her success online as a student that led her to become an online teacher. Now her work as an educator is being recognized nationally.
Heavner, an online mathematics teacher for Indiana University and the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, was one of 10 teachers from around the country honored recently with a Sarah D. Barder Fellowship Award.
CTY is a nonprofit at Johns Hopkins which identifies academic talent, grades kindergarten-12, and supports them with a variety of programs, including online.
Health problems – she had brain surgery in 2009 – led Heavner to take online classes, first in 2015 from Central New Mexico Community College, then Indiana University, from which she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. She will earn a master’s in education from Johns Hopkins this summer, also online.
“Due to my circumstances, online was my only real choice,” Heavner said in an email. “However, learning in the online environment opened my eyes. Students now have the ability to connect with high caliber institutions and some of the best educators directly from their own home.”
“I think that a lot of people still doubt online education,” said Heavner, 31, who lives in Albuquerque with her husband and four children. “They think it is easier or less rigorous. But many institutions now offer courses in this format, and it is akin to what students would face in the physical classroom. Actually, it can be more beneficial because students must take charge of their learning, work on time management, and become self-directed which is often the ultimate goal.”
For CTY, she teaches online geometry classes to gifted middle school students across the country. It was one of her students who nominated her for the fellowship.
“I have students daily who call me or we meet in the online classroom allowing us to personalize their education to meet their unique learning goals,” she said.
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