Announcing the January 2016 Educator Spotlight honorees! Congratulations to our educators.

The Educator Spotlight is a monthly feature on our Catapult Corner Blog. The educators that are highlighted are nominated by their colleagues in recognition of the positive impact they have on children and schools throughout the country. They are our very own shining stars!

  • Lyn Adolfo – Teacher – Detroit, MI
  • Hyacinth Monica Barclay – Teacher – Plantation, FL
  • Tina Pereira – Teacher – Pawtucket, RI
  • Barbara Worden – Teacher – New Orleans, LA
  • Gwyn Yeiser – Teacher – York, PA

Lyn AdolfoALyn Adolfo – Teacher

“Lyn is always looking for new and creative ways to reach students and make learning fun. Her partnership with the staff at [her school] Holy Redeemer continues to reinforce Catapult Learning’s goal of being an integral part of the school on a daily basis.”  —Ellen McGahey, Area Manager, Catapult Learning

  • Detroit, Michigan
  • B.A and M. Ed. in Elementary Education, Wayne State University-Detroit

Why did you become a teacher?
My associate degree is actually in computer programming. After a class in child psychology brought me to the elementary school that I had attended for service, the teachers all strongly encouraged me to see that I had a calling as a teacher. When I thought long and hard about it, I knew that education was the path I was meant to take. I had grown up in a small town less than a mile out of Southwest Detroit, along the Detroit River. It was known at one time as a thriving steel mill community but financial set-backs, recession, and a mass exodus out of the community left it in decline. I wanted to give back to my community and I had always liked children but most of all I loved exposing them to things they would never be able to experience in their own lives. This was one way that I could help the community thrive again was by building the future leaders of the city, state and hopefully nation. A wise teacher once told me to look at children as if we are preparing them for a journey and that every comment, every lesson and every experience is just “packing their suitcases.”

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
What I love most about teaching for Catapult Learning is the ability to help struggling students experience success, especially in a small group setting. I appreciate the opportunity to continually differentiate my instruction to meet the needs of my diverse learners. I greatly appreciate the amazing staff of teachers and principal that I am able to work with side by side. They are an extremely devoted group. I love the fact that I am part of a Catapult team that supports one another and works very cohesively. We are in constant collaboration with one another and are a great support system. Working in inner-city urban schools within Detroit can be a challenge at times. We see the struggles our students are experiencing and that can be very taxing on an educator. The Detroit team is very supportive in making sure we all have and or find the resources we need for our students diverse, individual needs.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
Having worked for Catapult for many years, I cannot pinpoint one exact success story. Every accomplishment that the students may experience, no matter how small, is success. The school I service is made up of a large population of English Language Learners. It is such a joy to watch them grow and develop into fluent readers as well as proficient mathematicians! It brings me great joy to watch parents gain confidence and revel in their children’s successes as well as their own!

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned that determination is the key! My student’s have taught me that with hard work and determination any obstacle can be overcome. But most of all . . . a sense of humor is very essential.

Hyacinth BarclayAHyacinth Monica Barclay – Teacher

Hyacinth teaches with love and enthusiasm and the intensity of her planning is evident in the delivery of her lessons. You can literally “feel” her desire for her students to learn and praise from her is their greatest reward.” —Fran Banner, Broward Supervisor, Catapult Learning

  • Plantation, Florida
  • B.S. in Applied Professional Studies/Elementary Education, Nova Southeastern University; M.A. in Leadership Teaching/Special Education, Notre Dame of Maryland University

Why did you become a teacher?
I became a teacher because of the love I had for imparting what I knew to others. As a student in high school, I was always the one who did most of the research in class and was always asked to share more in-depth knowledge on the topic. I would always volunteer my time in assisting others with homework. My teammates would frequently ask me to lead; hence, I developed the skill of making presentations. My passion for imparting knowledge grew, and my desire was to assist all students in maximizing their full potential in becoming problem solvers, decision makers, and in the long run, make a substantial contribution to nation-building.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
This marks my second year with Catapult Learning, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to assist students excel at their own pace. I have fallen in love with the teaching model, which is designed to promote positive growth for all students and in same breath, provide great flexibility for the teacher to employ strategies with innovation and dynamism. The ongoing assessment provides immediate feedback which allows me to evaluate and modify lessons which would be used to drive instructions. Small classes and one-on-one assistance allows me to learn a great deal about my students and their unique needs. In that way I can focus on teaching students rather than just content. The nature of my job has helped me to foster greater collegiality with all classroom teachers as we work together to achieve student success and maximize organizational goals. My Catapult supervisor is an effective leader who seeks to empower her staff to produce excellence. She is one who responds to every question and sees that tasks(s) are accomplished. Our monthly staff meetings are very informative and teachers share best practices to enhance the teaching and learning process.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
There have been many success stories at my school. So many boys have made great strides, but I can vividly recall a senior student sharing his background story with me one day during a math class. He just opened up and started to tell me that at his age he was just learning and understanding certain concepts and skills that he should have known from his former years. He said, “Nobody took time out to help me understand and so I slept in most of my classes.” I rearranged my schedule so that I could accommodate him on a one-on-one basis and oh, this proved to be the “RAY of LIGHT” that he needed. He is no longer a part of my group, but quite frequently he comes by to share ideas, ask questions, and to express gratitude. Initially there were students who were reluctant to be a part of Catapult Learning classes because of peer pressure, but now I have the same students wanting to remain with me even after their sessions have ended. There are also others who are consistently seeking to be a part of the group based on the influence of existing students in the group.

What have you learned from your students?
I teach in an all-boys school and the reluctance and tardiness that I encountered at the outset of my tenure have taught me how to be more patient, kind, gentle but firm, and above consistent with my techniques in achieving learning goals. Each day brings new challenges and the students have taught me that as we celebrate our victories and showcase all achievements there is greater participation in the days that follow. Humor and praise help to boost students’ self-confidence.

Tina PereiraTina Pereira – Teacher

“Tina is standout teacher whose long experience combined with deep caring for her students and passion for teaching has made her a true model for our other teachers and lab attendants in New England. Her passion for her students and her work is crystal clear just by watching her students – they obviously adore her!  Tina and her students express a love of learning and general excitement for it during her Blended Learning lessons”  —Kathy Ciuci, Supervisor/Professional Development Manager New England Region, Catapult Learning

  • Pawtucket, Rhode Island
  • O.I.S. Certificate, Nasson Institute

Why did you become a teacher?
I love working with children. To know that I can make a difference in a child’s life is so rewarding. When I am able to help children understand a problem or help them find answers to their questions, it makes “me” feel good. I love seeing the look in their eyes and their facial expressions when the light goes on in their head and they get it. It drives me and makes me want to do more.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
The thing I love most about teaching for Catapult Learning is the small group environment. I love the direct instruction and being able to work more closely with my students.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
It would have to be when one of my past student’s mother came up to me when I was outside of school one day and thanked me for all that I had done for her daughter. She said she was doing well in her new school and was still using some of the tools that I taught her. The mother said that I truly had an effect on her daughter, made a “difference” in her daughter’s life, and her daughter would never forget me. That was awesome!

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned that no matter how much I teach the students, they can still teach me a thing or two! My students never stop amazing me and showing me what they are capable of doing. It lets me know that I am doing the right things: doing a good job and getting results.

Barbara WordenABarbara Worden – Teacher

“Barbara’s passion for teaching is clearly evident because she is highly organized, extremely receptive to constructive feedback, works tirelessly to complete tasks on time, and has an excellent rapport with her students.  —Tommy Thomas, Title I Project Director/Supervisor, Catapult Learning

  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Elementary Regular Education, Hearing Impaired, Mild/Moderate Special Education, and Educational Diagnostician, University of New Orleans

Why did you become a teacher?
Being the primary teacher of my four daughters as a stay-at-home mom until they entered school, I felt that I could continue that extremely important role within the classroom. My desire has always been to meet the academic, emotional, and developmental needs of children with the hope for them to become lifelong learners.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
My teaching experience with Catapult Learning has been very rewarding as I am given the tools and materials to meet the specific needs of struggling students. Small group instruction seems to enhance children’s ability to learn and increase their confidence as they experience success in the Catapult Learning environment.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
My greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story is when a student no longer needs the services I provide due to academic progress. So far this school year, I have withdrawn several students from my groups who have demonstrated consistent success in their grade-level reading skills. Success, to me as a teacher, is witnessing the academic growth of a struggling student.

What have you learned from your students?
My students have taught me that all students have the ability to learn and be successful in a safe, encouraging environment. I continue to learn how important it is for them to have an active role in their learning process. They have taught me that learning has to be connected to the real world—their world outside the classroom—in order to be relevant and meaningful.

Gwyn Yeiser – TeacherGwyn YeiserA

“Ms. Yeiser has always showed great passion in her everyday work. Whether it’s organizing a field trip, or collecting local donations from our community, she consistently goes above and beyond her job description.”  —Leonard Brown, Program Director, Catapult Learning

  • York, Pennsylvania
  • B.A. in Secondary Education and Language Arts, University of Nebraska at Omaha; M.S. in Curriculum & Instruction, Diane College of Nebraska; Special Education Certification, Messiah College

Why did you become a teacher?
From a young age, I always knew that I would teach. I became a teacher because I want every student I teach to leave my classroom with the feelings of empowerment, success, and leadership. I want each student to become better learners, confident in what they know and certain that they will be able to discover what they do not. I want to foster each student’s knowledge that they hold the power and success of their future in their own hands. I also want students to look back on their time with me and know that even though I challenged them, they grew and learned because of it.

What do you love most about teaching?
Teaching for SESI has given me the opportunity to experience and learn things I never would have been introduced to in the public school setting. I have had the opportunity to try on roles that would not have been available to me. Because of the opportunities provided me, I have discovered my passion for the administrative role and am now working toward my principal certification.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
During my first year as the language arts teacher at William C. Goodridge Academy, I met one of my new students, who would truly impact my future in the alternative education field. He was a 17-year-old boy, coming to us, like most, with personal struggles and hardships far beyond my own understanding. By the end of the first year, I was the teacher he would share anything with, including some of his hardest life stories. The following May, near the end of his second year with us, my mother and grandmother stopped by the school to do a rewards breakfast for our high-achieving students. This young man pulled my mother aside, and privately shared with her that I was the reason that he would be graduating in the spring and that I had helped him to see his true potential. When my mother shared with me their conversation, I was both overwhelmed and humbled.

What have you learned from your students?
Most importantly, I have learned how rewarding it is to be a teacher. The students who walk through our doors—and the doors of many alternative education programs—bring unique challenges to the classroom. The reward of reaching one of these students has so much more meaning and depth than in other schools that I’ve taught. When these students thrive, they are defying the odds, and that is the most beautiful thing to witness.