JERSEY SHORE - Dolly Oden said the hardest part of her job is keeping up with the ever-changing technological advances.
As a business teacher and a Future Business Leaders of America adviser at Jersey Shore Area High School, Oden has seen a lot of changes in her 17 years of teaching.
But no matter how much continuing education she does, her focus is still the same: preparing her students for the real world.
Future Business Leaders of America club members are shown during a recent meeting in Dolly Oden’s class at Jersey Shore Area High School. They are, front row, from left, Victoria Barrows, Becca Barrows, Samantha Boerner, Katie Wasson, Megan Brookens, Oden and Cameron Hart; and second row, Trent Andrews, Alex Eckard and Cody Allen.
Oden, who has a bachelor's degree from Bloomsburg University and a master's degree from Penn State, said she always enjoyed helping other students and tutoring. It wasn't until she took business courses in high school that she knew what she wanted to do.
At her first year at Jersey Shore, Oden had to learn how to use the "ditto machine" - and large, hand-cranked version of a photocopier that were used in schools to make duplicate copies of worksheets.
"Now we have computers - it's constantly changing," Oden said. "I tell my students to embrace technology, because it will continue to update."
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Oden teaches seven classes at Jersey Shore: six sections of Intro to Information Technology and one section of Introduction to Web Page Development. She has mostly students in 10th, 11th and 12th grade, who she encourages to take advantage of the Penn College NOW program, where they can earn three credit hours per class at Pennsylvania College of Technology and three credits at Jersey Shore.
"They can have between 3 and 18 credit hours by the end of high school," she said, adding that 84 of her 89 students are in the program this year. The school has 118 students in PC NOW this year, she said.
"I use real-life experiences to teach kids," she said. "I teach them to use technology responsibly, along with office etiquette and ethics."
She cited examples about having the students learn to use email properly, and that they must address someone in the body of the message. She also discussed how students need to be aware of what they are posting on social networking sites and how that can affect their future.
Oden also is one of four FBLA advisers at the school, who help the club of 82 members learn about business practices.
"When I see the officers start out in ninth or 10th grade who are afraid to speak in front of students and end up running meetings by their senior year ... it is rewarding to see them grow and learn as an individual," she said. "But my favorite part of working with students is the daily interaction I have with them."
In the past, the Jersey Shore FBLA chapter has taken a business trip to New York City, Pittsburgh or Philadelphia and this year, members will go to Washington, D.C.
Oden said the students gain so much on the trips, along with meeting students from other schools. She said the Jersey Shore chapter last year had seven students attend the national competition with two teams placing in the top of the nation. Last year also saw a record number of students attending the state event.
"Our FBLA goals this year are to attend the national convention in Anaheim, Calif., and match the number of students we had at states last year," she said.
To that end, the students have been busy with fundraising through candy bar sales, a Gertrude Hawk candy sale and "Casual for a Cause" days because it can take thousands of dollars to attend competitions.
During a recent club meeting before classes began, senior Samantha Boerner was busy counting money raised from candy sales and through dues.
"I like that FBLA helps develop leadership skills," Boerner said of her four years in the club. "I was not very outspoken when I was younger and I didn't consider myself a leader, but FBLA taught me I can do it."
Boerner said she appreciates that Oden is patient and understanding.
Senior Cameron Hart said he has had Oden as a teacher for several classes and he said that she is very organized, professional and great at her job.
"She taught me how to stay calm during a speech," Hart said, adding that last year he qualified for the state competition and has run for several FBLA regional offices.
Katie Wasson, also a senior, has been a member of FBLA for four years. She said her favorite part is the competitions and how the different events teach her skills that apply to life.
"I had several classes with Mrs. Oden and she's a good teacher," Wasson said. "She makes sure we know the material and she's always willing to help me out."
Trent Andrews, also a senior, is this year's FBLA secretary. He has taken seven or eight classes with Oden since 10th grade and said that although her classes are busy, her classes are well-planned and organized so that students know what is expected of them.
Oden and her husband, Layne, of Muncy, have three children Grady, 11, Rory, 9 and Clynt, 4. She was born and raised in Hughesville and graduated from Hughesville High School.
"My wish for education would be that students would to continue to succeed in FBLA and that funding would never have to be an issue for providing an opportunity to students," she said. "When you see the light bulb go on and you see that you have made an impact on students' lives, it's inspiring."