Teacher Spotlight: CTE’s Megan Maltbie.

May 11, 2021

Megan Maltbie

Teacher Spotlight: CTE’s Megan Maltbie.

By Kate Krieger-Watkins, staff writer.

Teacher Spotlight is a presentation of Shelby State Bank, with offices in Ludington, Pentwater, Shelby, Hart, Hesperia, Manistee, Montague, Whitehall, North Muskegon, and Fruitport. 

VICTORY TWP – Like many of the instructors at the West Shore Educational Service District’s Career and Technical Education Center, Megan Maltbie didn’t graduate college with an education degree, but rather a degree in a field that she has been able to turn into a teachable course for high school students.

“I didn’t come from the education world but rather the professional sector,” she said. “In college, I started working toward an education degree, then in my junior year, I transitioned into business/marketing, thinking I would like to open my own business or branding agency. But that is not where my path was meant to go. Early in my career, I worked for non-profit agencies and a child advocacy center. But most locals and travelers know me from my 19 years working on the S.S. Badger. As the director of customer service, I led the efforts of our onboard staff to create positive memorable experiences while on the Badger. Sometimes I even got to bartend or run Badger Bingo.”

Maltbie is in her third year as the digital media instructor for the CTE center and having a background in a variety of business experiences has set her up to be able to tackle the multi-faceted position.

“These careers all seem rather different, but when you work for any small company or non-profit you have to wear a lot of hats,” Maltbie said. “So, my passion for photography, design and willingness to embrace change served me well in past jobs and help me daily at CTE.”

Maltbie’s experiences have given her a lot of opportunities and she has taken those opportunities and turned them into possibilities for the students who take her class.

“I liked the idea of working with high school students, helping them see new opportunities for hobbies and potential professions,” she said. “This is a hands-on class, we give them the tools, equipment and software that they would be using in a professional setting. Our goal is give them a taste of what they can do in photography, app design, videography and audio. They leave our class with industry certifications that can help they get that job, internship or college credit. We offer a creative option that helps students find their voice and see career paths they didn’t know were possible.”

Because she didn’t spend the majority of her career in educational, Maltbie said she really has enjoyed being able to do extra things with her time when she isn’t teaching.

“I never had summers off during my years on the Badger,” Maltbie said. “My first year teaching, I used the summer to travel in Europe. But I also used that time to update my skills. Technology is constantly changing, and we want to be sure we are up on the latest techniques. This summer, Tashsa (Smith — class paraprofessional) and I are going to be taking a drone certification. We are hoping to incorporate drones into our curriculum in 2022. Drones are being used in so many different industries: agriculture, construction, real estate, search and rescue. We are hoping in future our students can leave our class with a commercial drone license. Talk about getting students career ready and employable.”

Keeping up with all the latest changes in education and technology has helped Maltbie and her staff teach their students new techniques and skills in the communications field and this has helped some of the students earn special awards during their time in the digital media class.

“One of our students submitted a stop motion video that they created in class to their prospective college and earned a $2,000 scholarship,” Maltbie said. “Last month, a current student, Leah Howell, won a statewide billboard contest to promote dangers of teen distracted driving. The contest was sponsored by TIA (Transportation Improvement Association) and State Farm. She was awarded a $500 cash prize and her design was put on billboards all around Michigan in April 2021.”

With all of the positive things happening in her class, Maltbie said COVID-19 was probably the worst thing to happen to her class in the three years she has been teaching. The pandemic brought about a lot of uncertainty, along with a lot of technical issues that weren’t the easiest to maneuver through.

‘Teaching during COVID was stressful,” Maltbie said. “The biggest issue we faced stemmed from the fact that students come to CTE from 11 different school districts and each provide their students different types of devices. And most do not run our software. We also ran into the problem of many of our students did not have access to reliable internet. I really was shocked. We scrambled to locate laptops for students without and work with other school districts to allow our software installed on their computers.”

Finally, after figuring out all the ups and downs of the pandemic and how it was going to affect her students and her class instruction, Maltbie said even though there were many hiccups along the way, she learned a lot in a positive way as well.

“I know Tasha and I came out as stronger instructors and our students saw many successes,” Maltbie said. “We required our students to attend three live classes and offered office hours on the other days. Eighty-eight percent of our students were able to earn the Adobe Photoshop Certified Associate status upon their return from our remote teaching stint in November/December. They learned that material that was totally new to most in hard circumstances, remotely and succeeded. We are very proud of that fact. We also used that time for some career exploration. Virtually we brought professionals in digital media into their homes. I would have never thought three years ago students would be learning that way.”

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