Angelina College is celebrating a higher rate of students named to the President's Honor List in 2020 than 2019, despite the challenges presented by the pandemic and online learning.

"The faculty and administration are always happy to see students excel," said Stacy Pfluger, assistant vice president of academic affairs. "Given the challenges of this past year and the constraints produced by the pandemic, seeing an increase in the number of students on the President's List is even more exciting."

A total of 116 students enrolled in at least 12 semester hours earned their spots on the President's Honor List with a 4.0 grade point average during the fall semester.

The pandemic brought a new set of challenges to both students and faculty. When it first arrived in the region in March, faculty quickly pivoted to online instruction, Pfluger said.

While some staff had experience with online instruction, it was the first foray into online education for others. However, the college did have staff dedicated to helping instructors teach online, and ongoing online training was held throughout the semester to support faculty.

"One of the more significant challenges that the instructors faced was a student population with varying degrees of access to computers and stable internet connections," Pfluger said. "That said, our faculty did a spectacular job adjusting to teaching primarily online and have worked really hard to make sure their students had access to the support and resources they needed."

During the switch, faculty and staff had to find creative solutions to putting content of traditionally face-to-face courses online, Pfluger said.

From recording video lectures to finding additional resources to help students connect with material and designing activities to help students master concepts they normally would have learned in hands-on experiences in the classroom, instructors were hard at work.

"For example, our art instructor, Le'Anne Alexander, hosted an online art exhibit to display student work," Pfluger said. "The faculty used a variety of tools to interact with their students, including online discussions and real-time virtual instruction and office hours. There has definitely been a lot of creative thinking among the faculty this year."

Instructors and staff are working hard to be available to students and to give them a great educational experience in spite of the challenges, Pfluger said. She wanted to thank them for all they have done and continue to do for the institution and its students.

"Our students are at the heart of what we do. I'm personally very thankful that our students have persevered through the challenges of this past year and many are back this spring to continue their educational journeys," she said.

"I think a lot of us have grown a lot during these past months, and I want to encourage our students and the community to continue pushing forward. Success doesn't always come easily, but perseverance will pay off. We've seen great success in spite of the challenges. I expect that we will continue to see these successes and I hope that we will acknowledge the perseverance and dedication it takes for students to keep working toward their goals."

Grace Juarez's email address is grace.juarez@lufkindailynews.com.