National Teacher Appreciation Week Spotlight on 2013 Online Teacher of Year
By Pamela Moreland
By all accounts, Renee Citlau is a “teacher’s teacher.” She has 16 years of classroom experience. She has been a mentor teacher to other teachers. She doesn’t shy away from working with disenfranchised students.
And for the last six years, Citlau has been doing this, and more, online.
Citlau’s achievement is one reason time was taken during National Teacher Appreciation Week to honor her as the 2013 Online Teacher of the Year.
About the Teacher of the Year Award
The National Teacher of the Year Award is organized by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). “The Online Teacher of the Year Award recognizes an online teacher who has made a noteworthy contribution to eLearning in an online or blended setting,” SREB says.
Citlau teaches at Southern California’s Cypress High School. She piloted the district’s first online class in 2007; after completing a Master of Arts in Educational Technology Leadership program, Citlau realized online learning’s potential to engage dissatisfied students.
Citlau’s class was the first in the Anaheim School District, which oversees operations at Cypress High.
Five years later, the Anaheim district has a full slate of curriculum-approved, teacher-generated online courses, with 23 optional classes scheduled for the 2013–2014 school year.
Citlau efforts to expand online learning haven’t stopped with students. She has broadened her reach by working with other classroom teachers to show them how to blend online tools into their brick-and-mortar classrooms and also how to teach online.
Moving Toward a ‘Student-Directed’ Model
“Online education has the potential to change education from a 20th century, teacher-directed model, to a 21st century, student-directed model. We need to make sure that online curriculum is accessible to all students including special populations, English learners, and students from different cultural backgrounds,” Citlau told a SAS.com blogger.
“Online courses need to incorporate community, a sense of teacher presence, real world, project-based approaches to learning, and the ability of students to think critically and collaborate with their peers. It is critical that all students have access to quality online courses that incorporate 21st century skills so that they have the skills necessary to compete in a global economy,” Citlau added.
‘Special Set of Skills’
“Renee clearly has the special set of skills educators need to engage their students in the relatively new and swiftly evolving world of online education,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said. “It’s wonderful to have a California teacher recognized for her outstanding ability to help students thrive in this digital age.”