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Lead eLearning Specialist Margaret Colella Chosen for Prestigious VITAL Educator Program

Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES is proud to announce that Lead eLearning Specialist Margaret Colella has been selected to participate in the esteemed VITAL Educator Program initiated by the New York State Education Department.


The VITAL (Virtual Implementation of Teaching and Learning) Educator Program seeks to build expertise in the teaching and administration of virtual/hybrid schools, programs, and courses. VITAL educators will participate in a year-long professional learning community to become expert trainers who will then become turnkey contributors in their respective regions.


“When I complete this program, I’ll then be the turnkey professional for this region to help teach our teachers who are running any online programs, courses, or hybrid models. I will be the person who can tell them, confidently, what it should look like,” Colella said.


In total, 125 educators from throughout the state were selected for the program, showcasing how important online learning has become. The program’s inaugural year coincides with the growing popularity of online learning. Many factors attribute to this growth, including the pandemic and advances in technology. Regardless of the reason, Colella believes online learning is here to stay.


“I’m a part of the New York State Distance Learning Consortium and since COVID happened, this is one of the things we worked with New York State Education Department on establishing,” she said. “So, I felt honored when I was selected because I think online learning is not something that is going to go away. And I think it’s important for students and educators to have this type of background training.”


Colella said the program should help to reinforce what she already knows, while also educating her on things she and the region can improve upon moving forward.


“I’m excited to learn what I don’t yet know,” she said. “I’ve had a few people say, ‘Don’t you do this already?’ And of course, I do. But I really had to teach myself how to do it. Now, I’m going to have professionals to tell me what I’m doing right or what I can improve upon. And then I’ll be better prepared to work with the educators in our region.”


In 2011, Colella was tasked with starting up the Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES online learning program. In that first year, the program had 42 enrollments. This year, the program has approximately 600 enrollments, which is a testament to the work of the BOCES’ eLearning Academy.


So, after 13 years working in the area of online learning, what has Colella learned?


“I’m a believer in online learning. I believe that online learning allows students to have a personalized learning experience where the core of learning is centered on the interest of the learner. In many cases, students can select courses that aren’t offered in their districts,” she said. “I also think it’s important that they can learn at their own pace within a structured time period, which is important for the students. The supports that we have in our region allow them to be successful.”