Cooper Landing student is ASTE Education Student of the Year

KPBSD student Linnaea Gossard is the 2021 Alaska Society for Technology in Education Student of the Year!

Meet Linnaea Gossard, a senior at Copper Landing School in Cooper Landing, Alaska. Linnaea works hard to fashion her own educational experience and thrives in the virtual world using her 21st century skills and knowledge. Starting in 7th grade, Linnaeahas taken 24 live synchronous classes with 16 different teachers from eight different schools—all from her one room K-12 schoolhouse in Cooper Landing. She is a certified Video Tele Communications (VTC) facilitator and coordinator, the cocreator of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District VTC Coordinating Program (creating opportunities for remote students to take live synchronous courses that are not available at their home sites) and currently serves as the VTC Coordinating Program Intern for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

Ms. Gossard discovered she would be awarded the 2021 Alaska Society for Technology in Education Student of the Year, in a perfect setting due to COVID-19 … a zoom room. Like a surprise party, all the guests were in the waiting room, while Linnaea had prepped earlier that week and thought she was meeting with a teacher from out of state to talk about VTC. Her surprise was evident “when he was running late” and arrived, but instead it was many of her previous teachers, family members, her school, and KPBSD district leadership coming into the zoom room with cameras on, and saying, “hello!”. Amanda Adams, the ASTE president and a KPBSD educator helped her understand the surprise when she shared, “The Alaska Society for Technology in Education is so very proud to award Linnaea Gossard the Student of the Year Award for 2021. She represents the epitome of the creativity, perseverance, and magnitude of what is possible when a student drives their own education. She has embraced and integrated technology into her educational experience by molding it to meet her needs. She has improved the lives of so many by sharing her talents and investing in educating others on what is possible. … Bravo Linnaea!”

Ms. Linnaea Gossard learning she is the 2021 Alaska Society for Technology in Education Student of the Year!

Some of Ms. Gossard’s accomplishments are:

  • First high school graduate from Cooper Landing School, made possible by her commitment to live synchronous VTC courses and the work ethic to do it successfully, plus the  many teachers and schools that opened their doors to her

  • Starting in 7th grade, Linnaea has taken 24 live synchronous classes with 16 different teachers from eight different schools, all from her one room K-12 school house in Cooper Landing, Alaska

  • She is a certified Video Tele Communications (VTC) facilitator and coordinator

  • Co-creator of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District VTC Coordinating Program (creating opportunities for remote students to take live synchronous courses that are not available at their home sites and providing video opportunities for K-12 students across the district)

  • Currently serves as the VTC Coordinating Program Intern for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

  • Educational groups and VTC businesses have reached out to Linnaea for her insights into improving VTC pedagogy

  • Linnaea has facilitated, coordinated, and presented at numerous Distance Learning conferences and workshops

Linnaea also heard from teachers, the superintendent of schools, and well-wishers. Read on to hear what they had to say:

“Linnaea Gossard is an amazing young woman who possesses poise, talents, and professionalism beyond her 17 years of age,” said Superintendent John O’Brien. “I still vividly remember when as a sophomore or junior, Linnaea presented to our 60+ district and building administrators about video conference class delivery. She was remarkable back then and has grown and learned so much since. Her portfolio of work and experiences in the area of video conference technology and VTC would be impressive for an early career professional, let alone a high school senior. Congratulations to Linnaea on being named the recipient of the Alaska Society for Technology in Education’s 2021 Student of the Year Award. This is so well deserved and is a testament to your hard work and dedication to VTC.”

Her nominator Rob Sparks said, “I have known Linnaea for four years, and had her in a class every semester of her high school career. Linnaea has helped me become a better teacher by virtue of her patience and vast array of communication skills. In over 30 years of teaching, Linnaea is without a doubt one of the most skillful, honest, engaged, caring students I have had the pleasure to work with. One of the most remarkable aspects to Linnaea’s educational experience is how she has impacted students and teachers across the district. I can say, from firsthand experience, that she has empowered numerous students and teachers to participate in and offer live synchronous opportunities.” Sparks shared he asked several of her teachers to contribute to the nomination, and had a phenomenal response. Read what some of them said!

Teacher Testimonials

Phil Leck, Science, Soldotna High School
In the fall of 2019, Mr. Rob Sparks approached me and asked if I would take a remote student from Cooper Landing. At first, I was hesitant not ever having an online video conferencing student before. Mr. Sparks told me a little about Linnaea, and I figured this would be a great opportunity for both of us. Linnaea would be able to take a class not offered at her school, and I could learn from Linnaea about polycom and remote students. I cannot say enough good things about my time with Linnaea. She was such a treat to have in my class. I really looked forward to the days that she was coming to town, and she would be present in class. Although, every day she would be the first one in class and ready to learn.

She would walk me through all of my technical difficulties, and never made a single excuse about how it was too hard or a burden on her having to learn a different way than her classmates.

Considering our current state of online learning, we need more Linnaea’s in the world. Hard workers that don’t make excuses. No matter the challenge or obstacle, Linnaea always found a way to make it work. The last thing I want to touch on before wrapping up is Linnaea’s honesty. I am so impressed with her character and honesty. She had every tool at her fingertip to “cheat” if you will. Never once did she not put forth her best effort and do her own work. On quizzes and tests, even though I wasn’t with her, I never once had any doubt about the integrity of her work. Linnaea taught me so much and opened my eyes to the successes we can have with students off campus, and the impacts those students can have on me as well. I want to thank Linnaea for helping me out so much, and being such a fine young woman. She is the most deserving student I could think of for this award and others. She is going to be a very successful woman, and I am excited to see where her future takes her.

Ken Felchle, World Geography and History, Kenai Middle School
I am one of many teachers that have had the privilege of teaching Linnaea Gossard throughout her educational experience. Like myself, Linnaea grew up in a small community that presents many challenges but also offers opportunities if one looks for them. Linnaea was a student that would not and has not turned away any educational opportunity that came her way. Linnaea was part of my class through distance education. She integrated herself and her technical skills successfully within my class and soon became one of my top students. Linnaea was a positive influence on her peers and demonstrated to them the possibilities everyone has regardless of the situation they find themselves in. Linnaea Gossard is one of the brightest students that I ever taught. She also helped me to feel more comfortable in my abilities as a teacher, when it comes to distance education. Linnaea has mastered many technologies due to her circumstances and is very deserving of the ASTE award.

Byron Weeks Science Soldotna High School
Two years ago, I was faced with one of the most intimidating situations that I had to ever confront in my teaching career: having to deal with a remote student in my class interacting on a television screen. Linnaea Gossard was the student that presented me with this opportunity. Linnaea was on my Physical Science attendance sheet for the start of the school year. The work started. I had to find a television and camera system that would connect in my room. Once the apparatus was in the room and functional, I still had to learn how to use it. I really had no idea how to do any of this and was worried about how it would all work. On the first day, I was relieved to see that the television turned on and Linnaea was on the screen focused and ready to learn. As I was taking attendance, I was a bit annoyed as my computer was making a strange sound. I clicked on the invite button that Linnaea had sent me to join Skype and after a few clicks was able to present my computer monitor to Linnaea so she could see the notes that were displayed on the smartboard. At this point, she had everything that she needed to be successful in the classroom.

After the whirlwind of the first day with students, I had time to reflect on the day. Having Linnaea in class was the most worrisome task that I thought I would face all day and it turned out to be easy.This had nothing to do with my skills and ability to adjust, but Linnaea had learned the skills necessary to make life much easier on a teacher. It turned out to be a great year with Linnaea in class. She is a motivated, self-sufficient, focused student who seems to be very appreciative of her education. Linnaea performed at a very high level throughout the class even though she was not physically present.

Stephanie Cronin, Math, Seward High School
Linnaea lives in a very small, rural, Alaskan town. She attends my in person classes remotely, via zoom. In fact, this is how she attends most, or all of her courses. She is intrinsically motivated to learn, and has sought out diverse and challenging classes offered across our district. She is very adept at online learning, and is a very “present” member of the classroom even though she is remote. She contributes a great deal to class discussions. Currently, she is the only senior at her school, which tells a great deal about her character and her ability to self-motive.

She is recognized throughout our school district as a talented, charismatic, leader. When we went remote last spring due to Covid-19, I asked her to participate on a districtwide webinar to offer suggestions to teachers on how to be effective remotely. She readily agreed to participate and did a stellar job on the panel, providing advice on how to make online learning more engaging and accessible for all students.

Linnaea has contributed so much to her community and to our school district. She is a very mature, confident, young woman and a strong leader. She is involved in so many activities and is a very impressive, dedicated, thoughtful, and well-rounded individual. I highly recommend her for this incredible honor.

Nicole Hewitt, Language Arts, Soldotna High School
Linnaea is a great person. She was my first distance student in the days of pre-COVID life. It is amazing to note how much I remember from having her in class, despite the fact that she was almost always visible only through google meetings. She is patient with others when it comes to technology, and has been the first to try out new methods and improve upon the old. When she saw that something didn’t work, she not only communicated, but searched for a solution. I may have taught her about American Literature, but the learning was mutual; she taught me so much about teaching with distance technology. She taught me what an impact a virtual student can have on a class from afar. She was always a member of Language Arts 11, and one of my most memorable students I have had in a class. 

Kendra Remsen, Social Studies, Homer High School
I had the pleasure of working with Linnaea in the 2018-2019 school year when she joined my Homer High School-based World History class virtually from Cooper Landing. I’d already spent several years introducing students to videoconferencing technology and the possibilities of virtual learning and communication. However, Linnaea was the first student who came into my course already having that background knowledge and experience. She showed me new resources, platforms, and techniques for virtual communication that I have utilized in my classes ever since. Having that student perspective was so meaningful and valuable beyond measure. Her professionalism and expertise sometimes even made me forget that I was working with a 15-year old!

Nathan Erfurth, Social Studies, Soldotna High School
Linnaea is an absolutely phenomenal student. Right from the beginning, she met and exceeded expectations. Despite our uncertain circumstances and a fluctuating on-site schedule, Linnaea participates virtually from another town and is always on time. I have never met her in person, but she definitely is a real part of my class. She is adaptable to group activities where she is the only online student, and she sets the standard of quality for presentations and media produced for the rest of the class to see. Her email communications and her technical skills are always professional and up to the task, and she is an excellent problem solver. Beyond all of this, the most important thing is that Linnaea doesn’t just absorb information. She has an enthusiasm for learning. Her parents tell me that she has taken our government class discussions and activities and turned them into good conversations with her family. Her mother informs me that she was not as aware of current events or the workings of our government at Linnaea’s age. She is a true testament to the fact that intrinsic interest, problem solving, and willpower can turn difficult distance learning into a powerful experience.

Linnaea’s influence and reputation goes beyond the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and the state of Alaska!

Educational Groups and VTC businesses have reached out to Linnaea for her insights into improving VTC pedagogy. Linnaea has facilitated, coordinated, and presented at numerous Distance Learning conferences and workshops, participated in creating How-To videos for new VTC users, created best practices documents for new users and been available to anyone wanting her input. Examples of groups and organizations she has influenced: USDLA, Nebraska NSTE, Illinois Synapsis, Wisconsin CESA 10, KPBSD Administrators and School Counselors Workshop, KPBSD August In Service Workshops, Inspired Classroom Montana, Montana Youth in Transition Conference, and more.

Kathleen Dent Co-founder and Co-director, Inspired Classrooms, Missoula, Montana
Linnaea Gossard has been a key member of Inspired Classroom’s video conferencing team during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years. She has served as a student intern and advisor. In that capacity Linnaea has helped coordinate video conferencing events, written and recorded informational videos about effective remote learning from a student point of view, and assisted in moderating professional virtual conferences with participants and presenters from across the nation.

Her developing skill set includes organizing materials and information, communicating with others, trouble-shooting technology issues, and working collaboratively as a valued team member. She follows through in a timely manner with her commitments and has excellent writing skills. Linnaea has been a pleasure to work with and it has been rewarding to see her professional and personal growth over the past two years.

Greg Zorbas (2014 ASTE teacher of the Year), Projects Manager Inspired Classroom, Bend, Oregon
I have had the opportunity to have Linnaea Gossard involved in my classes on many levels. She has been a model for success when it comes to using video conferencing and teaching others how to be successful. Linnaea has not only completed all her core classes remotely but is in the process of completing the entire video conferencing program with teacher Rob Sparks. She is currently finishing the intern component of the course series. I most recently have had the opportunity to work with Linnaea in her capacity as an Intern. I am recently retired from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and currently doing some consulting with the education company Inspired Classroom. Linnaea has participated in many projects with us as an intern. The most recent project was helping Inspired Classroom facilitate a remote special education conference. She helped me moderate two sessions and was very instrumental in facilitating the presentations. 

Sam Angel, Creative Director, Inspired Classroom, Missoula, Montana
Linnaea is an absolute delight to work with! Her patience and diligence was a valuable asset to the virtual projects we worked on over the years. She is kind-hearted and committed to all that she does. Her adaptability to transition to a more virtual form of communication through Zoom was a tremendous strength when being filmed for a segment on “How to be a Good Virtual Student.” She communicates clearly and precisely with confidence. Linnaea is the clear choice for the ASTE Student of the Year and I would love to work with her again.

Wrapping up, her nominator, and KPBSD educator Rob Sparks said, “Linnaea Gossard is a “ROCK STAR” in the Video Conferencing world! As one of two high school students at Cooper Landing School, she has taken most of her classes using Video Tele Communications (VTC) to engage synchronously in classes at eight different district schools. Linnaea has worked hard to fashion her own educational experience and thrives in the virtual world using her 21st century skills and knowledge. She has made friends and influenced numerous students, teachers and administrators across the globe, throughout our nation and most certainly here in the KPBSD! Her impact will continue long after she graduates. I give thanks for Linnaea—she helped me become a better teacher, learner, and person. I think she’s awesome and wish her congratulations!”

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