Kenai student honored for excellence in distance learning

USDLA Awards Natalie Marlowe with the USDLA Student Achievement Award For Excellence in Distance Learning in 2018

Kenai Central High School student Natalie Marlowe is honored by the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) with the world’s most prestigious distance learning award presented for excellence in distance learning.

“This year’s USDLA Award recipient Natalie Marlowe represents the finest examples of online courses, best practices, and leadership in our field. The depth and breadth of the USDLA membership allows us to engage with leaders from higher education, K-12, industry, military, and government who daily demonstrate the power of distance learning. We are so very proud and excited to be able to recognize this level of excellence,” said Mr. Pat Cassella, President of USDLA.

Natalie Barlowe

Natalie Marlowe, Kenai Central High School

In her words

“One of my favorite connections was when I was able to connect an Alaska and Texas elementary classroom to discuss back and forth. The amazement on the faces of Alaskan kids when the Texas students brought out their class pet, a snake, was priceless. The Texan students were equally impressed by the stories of the weather the Alaskan students considered typical on the playground.”


Be involved

“In the fall of 2015, I got involved in a video conferencing program offered at my high school. This program is team taught by a teacher at Kenai Central High School and a teacher at Soldotna Prep School and is designed to connect students around the world as it works to prepare them for the next generation workplace. Although I began the course looking for an extra social studies credit, as I learned more I began to realize how these global connections and networking skills would set me apart when I began applying to colleges and eventually entering the workforce.”



“My involvement over the past three years in this course has taught me a lot about video conferencing technology and the uses of distance education. However, it has also taught me a lot about myself as an individual. I have learned how to learn from my failures, sometimes more than from successes, and how to be flexible when things do not go as planned. I have learned how to be ready to stand up and participate in the discussion when put on the spot and how to be comfortable presenting in front my peers and large groups of adult professionals. I know the confidence and ease I have learned through these experiences will accompany me through life even outside of distance education and the use of video conferencing technology.”


Challenges and surprises

“Working with technology is always a gamble. There are so many things that can go wrong at any given point. I struggled especially when I was working with teachers because they looked to me to have answers when things went wrong and I didn’t always have them. Being involved in this program required me to grow in my flexibility and know when to admit I needed help and how to get that help. One key challenge I had was when I set up a conference for a teacher at an elementary school. I had gone in a few days before to make sure the technology was working but between that time and the conference date the equipment was moved and disconnected. I ended up having to cancel the conference that day and reschedule. Things like this have really taught me how to be flexible and communicate with people when things go wrong.”

Superintendent Sean Dusek said,

“I am very proud that Natalie Marlowe has earned this prestigious honor for her work with distance education as a student in our schools. She exemplifies the type of student we hope to have as KPBSD graduate. Natalie has demonstrated the highest levels of leadership and innovation in supporting staff and students to be successful in the world of online learning and I believe she will continue to make a huge impact with positively transforming education on a world-wide basis. Congratulations Natalie and I am so very proud to have you as one of our KPBSD graduates!”

KPBSD educator Rob Sparks said, “She has done an outstanding job of representing the KPBSD and has shown a high level of professionalism throughout her internship and is a super nice person on top of all her talents!”

“Natalie has been a part of our video conferencing program for three years at Kenai Central High School, and I truly appreciate all her efforts,” said Greg Zorbas, KCHS educator. “Natalie has gone above and beyond our expectations and is truly a deserving winner of the USDLA student achievement award. I am certain that her experience in the video conferencing program will help her succeed at whatever she chooses to do in the future.”

USDLA Media Release

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