Announcing the April 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!

  • Lisa Collum – Teacher – West Palm Beach, FL
  • Stacie Daley – Academic Counselor – Chicago, IL
  • Annie Glick – Teacher – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Christine Hartwich – Teacher – Hartford, CT
  • Monica Hawkins – Teacher  – Dayton, OH
  • Jo Ellyn Kelly – Teacher – Chicago, IL
  • Tiffany Layton – Literacy First Consultant – Welch, OK
  • Judy Migliore – Teacher – Metairie, LA
  • Krystal Njie – Teacher – Beltsville, MD
  • Rebecca Orsinger – Teacher – Harrisburg, PA
  • Kevin Pulvers – Teacher – Los Angeles, CA
  • Wanda Zehr-Anderson – Teacher – Arlington, VA

Lisa Collum – Virtual Teacher

Lisa Collum is a reliable, dedicated teacher who not only does an exceptional job instructing students, but she also has a positive attitude and is willing to help without hesitation. She is appreciated by both staff and students.”  – Robin Poole, Program Manager – Middleton Academy & Catapult Academy

  • West Palm Beach, Florida
  • B.S. in Education, Florida Atlantic University; M.S. in Education, Nova Southeastern University

Why did you become a teacher?
I wanted to become a teacher because I love children and I love teaching!

What do you love most about teaching in your current position?
The thing I love most about teaching for Catapult Academy is being able to communicate directly with students and help them individually with their needs and questions.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
My greatest success story is not one story in particular, but just knowing so many students who started here with a difficult situation in their life and then watching them succeed through the courses and graduate.

What have you learned from your students?
From my students, I have learned that if you set your mind to something, you can do it! I have seen these students come in at different points and situations in their lives and through their own determination, they complete their classes and graduate. It’s truly amazing what you can do if you set your mind to it!

Stacie Daley1Stacie Daley – Academic Counselor

Stacie is engaging, original, organized, empathetic, and hard-working. She has established an excellent rapport with school staff, children and their families at both returning schools and those she is new to this year.”  – Ashley Strader, Academic School Counselor

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • B.S. in Human Resources & Family Studies, University of Illinois; MA Counseling-School Counseling Concentration, Chicago State University

How long have you been with Catapult Learning?
I’m finishing my second year with Catapult Learning.

To which Schools are you assigned? Tell us a little about the service you provide to the students there?
I work with a diverse set of students at St. Symphorosa, Epiphany, Children of Peace, Pui Tak, and St. Mary of the Angels schools. I meet students with a variety of learning challenges both individually and in small groups, helping them build strategies for better organization, time management, self advocacy, focus, interpersonal skills, goal setting, and persistence. In addition to guiding students to come up with their own solutions to problems by discussing options, we play games and do activities that help build skills and make school fun. When students need additional help academically, behaviorally or emotionally, I help parents and teachers find resources outside of school.

How is working for Catapult Learning important in meeting your professional goals?
The variety of issues that my students are dealing with has given me endless opportunity for growing my skills as a counselor. I am constantly finding new resources to offer them in our sessions and in the communities where they live. Our counseling team is very supportive, working together to share ideas and resources so we continue to develop our knowledge and our ability to help our students.

What is your most recent Catapult Learning success story? What is your greatest Catapult Learning success story?
Many of my students have made great progress. I am so proud of them. A few of my students suffer from Selective Mutism, having tremendous difficulty speaking in uncomfortable situations. One of them is a capable student, but her inability to speak was really interfering with her grades and ability to make friends. She used to only nod or shake her head when she met with me. It took several months of working with teachers to help them understand that my student was not being disrespectful, but really couldn’t speak under even a small amount of pressure. It took several contacts with her parents to help them understand that she needed extra help. Now, she has gotten some help outside of school, her teachers do what they can to help her feel more comfortable in class and she has started to speak up, asking questions and participating in class. She talks to me now so I can help her even more because she lets me know where things are going well and not so well. She is still very quiet, but has started to turn her grades around and feel better about school. She is feeling more and more comfortable opening up to me. I will continue to work with her to help her reach the next level where she begins to feel comfortable talking to her classmates, building friendships and developing vital interpersonal skills.

Annie Glick1Annie Glick – Teacher

Annie Glick is the kind of teacher that people remember fondly years after they are out of school. Annie is a retired teacher whose love for children keeps her working!  She is creative, animated, enthusiastic and most importantly skilled when working with struggling students in Title I. ”  – Fran Banner, Broward Supervisor, Catapult Learning

  • Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  • Sociology/Education

Why did you become a teacher?
I love children and wanted to make a difference in their lives. I believe teaching is what I truly like to do.

What do you love most about teaching in your current position?
After being a classroom teacher for almost 40 years, it is very rewarding to me to be able to work in small groups and also being able to teach one-on one with some of my students. My students enjoy coming to my class and often comment about how much they have learned in my class. Catapult provides much needed hands-on materials to be able to teach concepts in a concrete manner.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
A fifth grader who is in my math and reading groups truly did not want to be in Title 1 when he was recommended in November. He refused to listen, participate in the group, or do the daily assignments. After several weeks, he realized that I truly cared and that I wanted him to learn. I would always say to the children, if you do not understand something, please ask. He finally started to ask for help and he would participate in the group and do his daily assessments. I noticed when I was walking around to each student as they were working independently, that he was able to add and subtract fractions. I commented that I was proud of him as he was doing better and getting the answers and showing his work. The student turned to me and told me how he now understands fractions because of me. He now enjoys coming to both the reading and math classes. He smiles, participates, and has shown improvement in both areas. His confidence is back and he is a happy child.

What have you learned from your students?
I have kept up with the times. I learned current trends, good and bad.
I have learned patience (over and over again!)
I have learned that everyone is capable of learning but not everyone learns in the same way.
I have learned humility.

Christine Hartwich1Christine Hartwich – Teacher

“Christine is an amazing educator who always has a positive attitude and enthusiastic approach to everything.  As students enter school, she is the first to greet them with amazing energy every day.  As they leave, she sends them home with best wishes every afternoon.  Ms. Hartwich meets new challenges and a very difficult classroom with a smile on her face and a positive energy that spills over onto other staff and her students.”  – Jennifer Johnson, Education Director, SESI, Hartford, CT

  • Hartford, Connecticut
  • B.A. in Elementary and Special Education, Providence College; M.S. (in process) in Mathematics for Certified Elementary Teachers, Central Connecticut State University

Why did you become a teacher?
I became a teacher, specifically a special education teacher, because my brother and a few cousins have disabilities. Growing up, I experienced how certain schools systems and educators failed to reach and teach these range of disabilities and I wanted to make sure no child was educationally neglected. I also love to learn and wanted to project my love of academics and curiosity onto children who have limited understanding of what they can be in life.

What do you love most about teaching in your current position?
I love teaching with these companies because the school model is intensive, which gives me the opportunity to devote my focus on the specific individualized goals of all my students while incorporating life and social skills. I enjoy having an open communication with the parents and guardians of my students and the frequent correspondence to share the good days and the bad days together. Finally, the small staff in our program allows us to develop meaningful relationships which not only improves school morale, but allows us to work together easily during any crisis to ensure all student and staff safety.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
I do not have one greatest success story. My student’s success comes in several smaller forms. For example, having a third grader going from counting up to 29 to working with numbers in the thousands, to teaching students how to tie their shoes, to having my student’s progress to where they no longer need a one to one aide. If I had to choose, my favorite story is anytime a student says they have learned something and they want to continue.

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned that I have to use multiple approaches to reach my students’ needs. Within my diverse classroom, I have students who shut down and have low self-esteem, so creating a comfortable setting allows the student to open up and learn which improves their well-being. I have learned that it is okay to not know everything, and to use that as a learning opportunity for everyone in ways such as a research project. Lastly, I have learned to never give up on those who may be considered challenging behaviorally, because once you develop a positive rapport; they will succeed in some form. Any progress is celebrated.

Monica Hawkins – Teacher
Monica Hawkins1

Monica does an excellent job in teaching both reading and math but teaching reading to her young students is her love. Her quest is to make sure all of her students become excellent readers, thinkers, and successful learners.”  – Sue Ann Marie Korb, Ohio Instructional Supervisor, Catapult Learning

  • Dayton, Ohio
  • B.S. in Elementary Education; M.S. Education in Language Arts and Reading, University of Dayton

Why did you become a teacher?
As a young girl my parents instilled the value of education in me. I loved school from the very first day of kindergarten and throughout my education including my Masters degree. Teachers were valued as elite members of the community and admired for their skills, hard work and contributions to our society.  I wanted to become a member of that group.

What do you love most about teaching in your current role?
I love the opportunity to work with struggling students in small groups. I have found that, in this environment, these vulnerable boys and girls are willing to voice what they don’t understand. They are more willing to ask questions that they wouldn’t pose in front of a larger group. I also value the tremendous support given me by my supervisor and fellow Catapult teachers.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
My greatest success is seeing the success of former students in their current grades. Also seeing their delight in studying and learning new ideas without the burden of struggling to keep up with their classmates is very satisfying.

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned that no matter where students are in their educational path their desire to learn is enormous and they want my help in a nonjudgmental manner.

Jo Ellyn Kelly – Teacher

Jo Ellyn has been very instrumental in the success of each of the new primary teachers who have been assigned to Our Lady of Guadalupe over the last few years. She not only makes herself accessible to speak with regarding any questions that our first year teachers might have, she also opens up her classroom, so that these new teachers can learn from her instruction. This is truly a wonderful opportunity for our new teachers at the school.”  – Jeff Lobo, Catapult/NESI Program Supervisor

  • Chicago, IL

Why did you become a teacher?
When I was a senior in high school, the school offered a hands-on Pre-K instructional elective. My high school provided a preschool option for local families. This class was a Monday through Friday, two period course. Half the course was instruction for the seniors regarding early childhood education. The second half of the class was direct interaction and instruction with the 3 and 4 year olds. I was hooked by the end of September. I knew I wanted to be in the classroom atmosphere for a career.

What do you love most about teaching in your current position?
I love the small group setting and direct instruction for specific skills. I love the freedom it allows me to be creative and come up with interesting ways to differentiate my teaching to meet the needs of my students.

What is your greatest  teaching success story?
I love eighth grade students who return in the fall to visit the school and teachers. When they see me many of them comment that I was right. I will ask them, “About what?” Knowing exactly what they will say, I wait. “You told us high school would be challenging and to get organized, start and/or complete assignments ahead of time and prepare for tests indifferent ways!” I’m glad they remember what I tell them. Although, I don’t think they all follow through with that advice.

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned that no two students are alike. Students walk into the classroom everyday with various backgrounds, difficulties and agendas. Knowing each student individually and recognizing them for who they are has been beneficial to reaching them. At the end of the day, I realize that a student is a human, above all, and every person, young or old, wants to be validated.

Tiffany Layton1Tiffany Layton – Literacy First Consultant

 Tiffany goes above and beyond in support of her schools and colleagues. Her passion, knowledge, and skill set make a difference for our schools across the country. She loves what she does and it is obvious in her work ethic and results.”  – Lee Anne Housley, Jessica Bianculli, and Sue Gerenstein

  • Welch, Oklahoma
  • B.S. Early Childhood Education (certified Early Childhood & Elementary Education); Reading Specialist Certification; M.S. Educational Leadership

How did you become a Literacy First consultant?
In 1999, after five years of teaching, I began a new job as a third-grade teacher in a Literacy First school. Over the course of the next two years, I completed all phases of Literacy First implementation (Early Childhood, Primary, and Intermediate). I began to see levels of student success beyond anything I had ever imagined (for ALL my students, from struggling readers to those who were very advanced). In January 2002, during a conversation with our Literacy First consultant (Arlene Frame) I asked about becoming a consultant with the organization. I believe my exact words were, “So, Arlene . . . what do I have to do to do your job?” J Arlene referred me to Dr. Sherry Davis, who interviewed me by phone in February 2002. In May of that year, I attended new consultant training and the rest, as they say, is history. Since that time, I have supported schools and teachers across the nation in their implementation of the Literacy First process and their commitment to “achieve beyond expectations!”

What do you love most about being a consultant for Literacy First?
There are so many things I love about being a Literacy First consultant. What I treasure most of all is when a child, a teacher, a member of the leadership team, or even a parent says to me, with awed voice, “I GET IT! Let me tell you what I’ve learned!”

What is your greatest Literacy First consulting success story?
After 17 years as a Literacy First consultant, I have, quite literally, hundreds of stories to share: stories that make you laugh until you cry, stories that reduce you to tears, stories that shatter your heart, stories that plumb the depths of injustice, stories that make your heart soar and your voice cheer. But my greatest success lies in knowing that every single time a coaching conversation translates to best practices in the classroom, I am a part of changing the lives of students.

What have you learned from your experience as a consultant?
My Literacy First journey can best be summed up by saying:
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” – Author Unknown
“ALWAYS do what’s best for kids!” – Dr. Bill Blokker

Judy Migliore1Judy Migliore – Teacher

Judy is an asset to Catapult, her students, and her schools.  She works tirelessly to ensure they are making academic advancements. She excels at differentiating to address the needs of her specific students.  Judy is truly the consummate educator.”  – Randi Robarts, Instructional Specialist and Program Supervisor, Catapult Learning

  • Metairie, Louisiana
  • Elementary Grades & Learning Disabilities, University Of New Orleans


Why did you become a teacher?
In second grade, I discovered that I loved writing on the chalkboard so I decided to become a teacher. My career choice never changed as I matured, but my reasons did. As years went on, I realized I enjoyed the feeling of success when I helped my younger siblings with their homework and with tutoring while I was in high school. Because I helped children with learning problems, it was a natural evolution for me to develop into a special education teacher. I have never regretted my decision to go into this field, and now enjoy writing on white boards!

What do you love most about teaching in your current position?
I enjoy working with the small groups of children so that I can get to know my students on a more personal level. Also, with my background in special education, the students we work with are the ones I feel I can help the most.

What is your greatest  teaching success story?
This year, the principal of a school I am working at asked me to help with writing skills. I used many of the graphic organizers provided by Catapult Learning to guide the students through the writing process. As they came into class after the standardized tests, the students thanked me for teaching them how to use the organizers and how to look back into the text for information because they used those strategies in the writing section of the tests! I was so proud of them!

What have you learned from your students?
My students never cease to amaze me every year. They are learning so much more than I ever did at their age and come up with questions that challenge me to continue to learn. I absolutely love the opportunity teaching has brought me to be a lifelong learner.

Krystal Njie1Krystal Njie – Teacher

Ms. Krystal Njie continuously plans school outings for her intellectually disabled students exposing them to experiences and/or life lessons that they don’t usually do independently. She continuously offers interactive lessons for her students. She is a hands-on teacher with her students.”  – David Clarke, Associate Director, High Road School of Beltsville

  • Beltsville, Maryland
  • Psychology, Salisbury University; Special Education, CCBC

Why did you become a teacher?
I always felt driven to want to help students. It was as if I was being called to be a teacher to those who society brushes under the rug.

What do you love most about teaching in your current position?
I love teaching my population of eager students. Helping them learn academically and embrace real life adventures has been rewarding to me.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
One of my greatest success is having three different classes interact with one another in a training/job skills week outside the front yard of the school. It helped give students ideas as to whether they want to become cosmetologist, artist, photographers, and/or athletes. It put career opportunities in front of them!

What have you learned from your students?
My students have helped me to develop patience, humility, adaptability, creativity, and respect. Without developing these skills while teaching my students, I don’t think my instruction would be effective.

Rebecca Orsinger1Rebecca Orsinger – Teacher

Rebecca Orsinger has taken our Science class to a new level. I believe her passion for Science and reaching our students is evident as on a weekly basis we see exciting lesson plans and the delivery of these plans are full of energy. Again, she is a first-year teacher and soaking in every it of information and training and using it to the fullest.”  – Jamie Gill, Program Director, Capital Academy

  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Elementary Education/ Environmental Education, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

Why did you become a teacher?
I often say I didn’t choose teaching, teaching chose me. There are some things in life we are meant to do and teaching is that for me.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Academy?
f I had to choose one thing I love most about teaching at Capitol Academy it would have to be that I have the ability to meet my students’ needs where they are because of the small class sizes and support of other staff. I love that the direction of my teaching can be evolving based on my students’ interests. So many great moments in the classroom come from a question raised or interests of the students.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
My greatest teaching success story is seeing kids who have had a previously negative experience with school excited to be in class and to learn, asking questions and getting into the lesson. Whether it’s a hands-on project or a class discussion, it’s seeing students—maybe even for the first time—taking responsibility for their education and wanting more information and more knowledge on a subject.

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned from my students that it’s okay to fail and make mistakes as long as you keep moving forward. That we cannot do it alone, we need others along the way to help us. Everyone has value and everyone’s value is unique. We need to find the value in everyone we meet.

Kevin Pulvers1Kevin Pulvers – Teacher

Kevin is very flexible and open to work with all students. When I visit his program, I see an inviting classroom and lots of learning happening. He is well known and liked by all. When meeting with the principals, they all agree that the success of the program is due to Kevin’s abilities’ to work with administration, classroom teachers parents and all school faculty.”  – Lilian Valenzuela, Educational Supervisor, Catapult Learning

  • Los Angeles, California
  • B.S. in Business Administration, Masters in Educational Technology, University of Southern California

Why did you become a teacher?
After I received undergraduate degree in Business, I worked in corporate technology sales and eventually business finance and new developments. After 20 years, I felt like something was missing: passion. Training for new hires and introducing new product development for existing employees gave me passion, but consisted on only 10% of my job. It wasn’t until I happened to drive my wife downtown to LAUSD and a gentleman asked me for my card because he told me they needed math teachers. I thought nothing of it, but two weeks later, I was offered a position. I was a little skeptical because I was not sure what to expect. After my first week, I knew I had found my life’s work. It is my life’s work. I enjoy the process and challenge of teaching. I also feel fortunate to be able to reach out to many different schools and students.

What do you love most about teaching in your current position?
Coming from a corporate background and being a teacher offers me a unique perspective on the blend of teacher and employee I appreciate value and understand their importance in ensuring our success. We have all the support, resources, training, and teacher development resources at our disposal. It is also important for me to work with a company that promotes from within and offers additional opportunities for career growth. It is also rare that my personal goals are aligned with Catapult’s. We all strive to enhance the quality of education and provide opportunity for our students to succeed.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
I am still planting the seeds for my greatest success story. It is my hope that a student contacts me in the next 10 to 20 years and makes mention of how being in my class in some way had a positive impact on their life. That would certainly be my greatest Catapult Learning success story and I will certainly post it on this website when it happens.

What have you learned from your students?
Be inspired and passionate for whatever you are teaching or they will not ever be engaged or interested. Find something you love and respect about each child, never underestimate their potential, and unmask their hidden greatness. I learned the importance and responsibility of being a professional role model, because many of my students never had one. They have taught me how to be more humble, patient and how to be a better parent for my own children.

Wanda Anderson1Wanda Zehr-Anderson – Teacher

Wanda is a life-long learner. She is continually reading, taking courses, and immersing herself in personal professional development to grow as a teacher. In addition to her commitment and passion for instruction, Wanda is the facilitator that helps other teachers become stronger teachers.”  – Sue Sparks

  • Arlington, Virginia
  • B.A. in Elementary Education, Goshen College; M.Ed. in Reading, Loyola College of Maryland

Why did you become a teacher?
I think I always knew I would be a teacher—from the time I was five and playing school with my three brothers! I also had a cousin who I admired greatly and was influenced by her career choice. During the first semester of college I had the opportunity to work in an urban school and knew, instantly, that I had chosen the right path.

What do you love most about teaching in your current position?
I love the passion for excellence that is infused throughout the NESI program—in its administration, supervisors, teachers, and students. That passion translates into outstanding growth and learning for the children we serve.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
I think the greatest success is getting struggling students excited about reading—going from reluctant to avid readers. This is my greatest goal because without that they will continue to struggle. This school year, it was during our Dr. Seuss Celebrations. My first graders were working on a reader’s theater of “Green Eggs and Ham” and when we got to the end, my most reluctant reader spontaneously exclaimed, “I love reading!” She’s continued to blurt this out randomly ever since!

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned to think outside the box—things may not always be as they seem. I have learned to see my students as individuals and with a huge set of strengths. Once we’ve worked together to identify their strengths, we can work on their challenging areas by leveraging their strengths. My students have taught me to always keep my sense of humor!