How ODA’s Most Experienced Educators Have Transitioned to Virtual Learning
In the second part of our series with our longest-tenured faculty, we hear from two Uihlein Campus educators, Mrs. Kathy Dozier and Mrs. Shelley Stone.
Mrs. Kathy Dozier came to Out-of-Door after teaching high school in an Atlanta suburb for four years. Originally hired as a fourth grade permanent substitute teacher, she was offered the position permanently the following year. Several years later, the Uihlein Campus opened and an eighth grade position became available.
Mrs. Dozier is known for the enthusiasm and innovation she has in her classroom and has become a legend in the Middle School for bringing lessons alive for her students. Over the years she has ridden a horse dressed as General Lee, re-enacted the Battle of Gettysburg with water balloons, taught all the dances for the annual 50s Dance, dressed up as historical figures in her classroom, held mock trials, and organized student poetry cafes.
“Teaching has drastically changed - it has become more challenging, more creative, and much more interesting and innovative. One of the reasons I love teaching is because it is ever changing and evolving.”
With the recent pivot Out-of-Door has taken into the remote learning world, Mrs. Dozier says she feels prepared to teach in the virtual environment. She credits this success to the strong support system available to ODA faculty members, as well as the dedication she and her fellow teachers have to providing the best education possible to their students.
“It has been a relatively smooth transition to online teaching. Because technology has been such an important part of the curriculum for teachers over the last few years, the transition was not a difficult one. When we knew the campuses would be closing, Dr. Joanne Barrett quickly trained us all on Zoom; we met as a faculty, which enabled us to become familiar with the Zoom platform and ask questions. And, honestly, [I’m] not afraid to try new things because we–as a faculty–know that we have such tremendous support. As a result, we were all comfortable with online teaching knowing we had support and each other.”
For an Upper School perspective, Mrs. Shelley Stone offers insight. Thirty-five years ago, Mrs. Stone replied to a 3” x 5” notecard posted by Coach Mike Young, advertising an elementary school physical education teacher opening at Out-of-Door. She interviewed with Mrs. Martha Duffy, who hired her immediately. Several years later when the Uihlein Campus became a reality, she took on the role of Athletic Director, along with teaching several classes.
Over the years, Mrs. Stone has seen many differences in how students’ experience at ODA differs from other schools. A hands-on, innovative approach in the classroom, the inclusion of arts and athletics from day one, and the integration of ODA’s culture into everyday life on campus makes it apparent that students receive more than just textbook education.
“Watching that first class graduate and talking about the impact all the teachers had on their life...I knew their experience was very different from my high school experience, but never realized the role we had in their life until then. I felt so close to the students and feel that is what makes ODA so special.”
During her years at Out-of-Door, Mrs. Stone became a key fixture in the Upper School math department. She participated in many professional development training opportunities, and when the change to online learning became a reality, she had a solid arsenal of skills and resources to draw from.
“A few years ago, we added our Learning Management System, Canvas, and all of the technology it provides for the students and faculty was huge. Scheduling, posting videos, and posting files is all so easy with this platform. Additionally, the Texas Instruments conferences I attended made me comfortable with the calculators’ online technology that is now available. All of these tools are now being put to use.”
Mrs. Stone said that faculty has always been allowed and encouraged to try new teaching styles, which was a key factor in the transition to virtual learning for faculty members. Much like Mrs. Dozier, she credits the success to the intense training teachers received prior to the shift to online teaching.
“What at first seemed overwhelming was quickly okay. [We] spent hours together making sure we all felt comfortable with the technology and sharing ideas so we were consistent as a department. I couldn’t imagine any other faculty coming together better than we did.”