EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
Falls Career High School English teacher Mike Saenz admitted he bounced around in college before deciding education was the path for him. All that bouncing taught him not everyone travels at the same rate to get where they’re going, and it’s a lesson that has helped him as an educator.
In June, Edgenuity, the parent company of Odysseyware, recognized Saenz’s efforts in the classroom with its Educator Impact Award. Falls Career High School utilizes Odysseyware software for teaching purposes. Saenz has taken advantage of the software’s flexibility for the past nine years to craft individualized lessons for his students.
“To me, what’s really great about Odysseyware was its customizability,” he said. “Not every student learns the same way or at the same pace. We all learn in different ways, and if I can make lessons for how a student (best learns), that’s going to help them just so much better.”
Falls Career High School is a non-traditional campus. Student learning is more self-paced and depends heavily on computers.
The school does follow Texas Education Agency guidelines and learning standards, just in a different way.
Saenz pointed out that, at Falls, there is a great deal of one-on-one interaction between teacher and student. He knows exactly where a student is on any given topic, even down to a daily lesson.
With Odysseyware, Saenz can tailor lesson plans to each student. If he’s teaching a grammar lesson, and one student is struggling with a concept, Saenz can develop additional lessons for the student until they grasp it or go over the original lesson again.
Education isn’t a race, he pointed out, it’s an individual journey.
Leaving a student behind is not an option for Saenz.
It also works the other way with students who learn lessons more quickly than their classmates.
While the software is putting students on the path to graduation and a career, Saenz hopes they receive something more.
“As a philosophy guy, knowledge is important overall. I tell the students it’s our minds that let us flourish,” he said. “Anything you do in life could be better with better thinking.”