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  • New Books To Help Veterans Stay in School

    by LearnEd

    A Son Goes Off to War

    Tim McCleary’s son, Brayden, was one of 24 young men from Canada’s Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders infantry regiment in the days after 9-11.

    He was 21.

     

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  • Two Generations of IT Professionals Talk Employability and Proving Your Skills

    by LearnEd

    Man and woman shaking hands

    A few weeks ago, we wrote a story about the 2016 Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship, a global competition that tests students’ skills in Microsoft Office Word, Excel® and PowerPoint®. This year's World Championship was held in Orlando in early August.


    After she brought her son’s resume to a Montana bank so he could be considered for an internship, Tina O'Donnell recalls, "The HR rep told me, ‘I wish everybody had a resume like this.’”

    Her son, Nick, stands out among intern candidates. He is the current U.S. Champion in Microsoft Word 2013, a title he secured in the Pearson VUE Certiport Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship in Orlando earlier this month.

    He has just graduated from high school.

    “We never expected Nick to be named the best in the United States,” she says. “But I do think he’s a rock star.”

    Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 10.44.46 AM
    Nick O'Donnell and his mom at the 2016 Microsoft Office World Championship in Orlando, Florida.

    Making A Resume Stand Out

    Nick’s certifications in the 2010 and 2013 Microsoft Office programs, as well as a long list of other extracurricular activities, help him prove his skills to potential employers.

    “I think you need to have computer skills to be employable because that’s where the job market is going,” says Nick.

    “You also have to adapt because technology is constantly changing.”

    Nick was offered, and took, the internship at the bank, working on their document management system.

    At the age of 18, he also became the resident expert in Microsoft Office.

    “I was really impressed at how he was able to interact with adults more than twice his age. When we had a very technical discussion, something moms and sons don’t usually have, I knew he had changed,” says Tina, who is also employed in IT at a bank.

    “When hiring, I look for those soft skills like teamwork and leadership.”

    After graduating, Nick was hired to work in IT for the Anderson School District in Montana. He is on-site, helping educators with the technology in their classrooms.

    “The Microsoft certifications helped me get the job,” says Nick.

    His experience helping his old high school out also gave him a boost—as well as his passion. “I’m really excited to learn new software.”

    Nick
    Nick O'Donnell with Pearson leaders.

    Looking Forward to a Bright Future

    He’s also studying computer science and business at Montana State University. What does he want as a career?

    “CEO of Microsoft,” says Tina.

    Her son is a bit more modest: “I’d like to be an IT manager."

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  • Soccer, Math, and Family Time All Rolled Up Together in School

    by LearnEd

    Shot of a soccer team having a team talk

    An online high school helps a competitive soccer player

    excel on the field and in the classroom.


    blue quote box2

    A Soccer Prospect

    Chris Stowell's wingspan is more than six feet wide.

    He's six feet, three inches tall. He's also quick and has great hands.

    Put a bright jersey on him, and he becomes one of the top soccer goalkeepers in the pacific northwest—already competing in some of the country's most competitive tournaments.

    "Eventually, I want to go to the next level," Chris says. Which means making his way up the ranks to a team like Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers.


    "It finally gave me the flexibility to go to my tournaments AND do my school work either beforehand or afterwards," Chris says. "It was so easy to catch up."


    Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 10.56.19 AM

    A New Flexibility

    Chris' first two years in high school were at a local public school in Eugene, Oregon.

    "But I missed so much of school to go to all these soccer tournaments," he says. "I had to make up a lot of work and schedule a lot of tests with all my teachers."

    That changed once he started attending Oregon Connections Academy for his junior and senior year. It's a virtual charter school affiliated with the Santiam Canyon School District in Mill City, Oregon, that is available statewide to students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.

    "It finally gave me the flexibility to go to my tournaments AND do my school work either beforehand or afterwards," Chris says. "It was so easy to catch up."

    'A Much Better Path'blue quote box2

    "I wasn't excited about Oregon Connections Academy at first," Chris says.

    "I really liked the social aspects of the public high school," he says. "I figured going to a virtual charter school would make me more socially isolated."

    But it didn't turn out that way.

    "I still stay in touch with my friends," Chris says. "And this kind of high school, for me, was the much better path."

    Slower Pace When Needed, Faster Pace When Wanted

    In addition to the flexibility Chris' new school allowed him and his athletic pursuits, Oregon Connections Academy made it possible for him to go through his studies at his own pace.

    "I really felt dragged down in math class in my old school," Chris says. "The slow pace was frustrating."

    "Other classes, I actually needed a slower pace," he says.

    "The curriculum was already laid out," Chris says. "I could look online and see exactly what I needed to do for each week and each month, charging through some subjects and going slower through others."

    Growing Up On the Field and Off

    Chris has matured as a soccer player over the years.

    "As a goalkeeper, you have to be a leader on the field," he says. "You tell people what to do, give them encouragement, hold them accountable."

    Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 10.54.48 AM

    Oregon Connections Academy brought out similar traits on the academic side of his life.

    "I really had to take charge of my education," Chris says. "No one was pushing me along or telling me what to do. I had to take charge of the completion of my studies."


    "I really had to take charge of my education," Chris says. "No one was pushing me along or telling me what to do. I had to take charge of the completion of my studies."


    Chris' mom, Julie, saw the same thing happening.

    "He matured a great deal," Julie says. "He got used to calling his teachers with questions and started to feel more comfortable contacting them to work out the balance between school and soccer."

    "It was really difficult for him at first," she says. "But I think the experience gives him a leg up in confidence compared to a similar experience in a traditional brick and mortar school."

    Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 4.11.27 PMCollege and the Road Ahead

    In the fall, Chris will go to college—majoring in math at Corban University in Salem, Oregon.

    His new soccer coach is also involved as a coach in the Portland Timbers organization.

    But one step at a time.

    Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 10.53.45 AM

    Chris is "a little bit nervous" about going off to school.

    "I'll be living on my own for the first time," he says. "I'm nervous about doing my own laundry," he jokes.

    "We'll visit often," Julie says. "He'll only be an hour away."

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John Fallon

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