Announcing the May 2017 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!

  • Anthony Aiello – Teacher – Harford, MD
  • Caterina Campelli – Teacher – Windham, CT
  • Jes Colatta – Teacher – Harrisburg, PA
  • Olandrian Glasper – Teacher – Chicago, IL
  • Michelle Hamble – Assistant Teacher – Belleview, FL
  • Terricus Macon – Climate Manager- Columbia, TN

Anthony Aiello – Teacher

“Anthony has been instrumental and invaluable throughout the PARCC testing process. He also recently stepped up to run the program earlier this month while my wife and I were having our third child. He is unflappable, yet his sense of humor and ability to make personal connections with staff, students, and parents make him one of the most likeable and charismatic staff members we have.”  – Ben Colpitts, Program Director, High Road School of Harford County, MD

  • Belcamp, MD
  • School Special Education, Towson University/Notre Dame University of Maryland

Why did you become a teacher?

I became a teacher to have a chance to make a positive impact on the students I work with. Personally I believe there is no greater feeling than helping someone, particularly helping a child to reach their potential.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

What I love most about teaching for Catapult Learning is the opportunity to educate students in the classroom and also in real life situations. The academic aspect of teaching has always appealed to me but I also enjoy helping students make better choices on a daily basis. Many of our students struggle to make the right choices when faced with difficult or emotional situations. Our model helps students to understand the importance of making good decisions and realizing that all choices have consequences. I get a chance to watch students grow in the classroom and also as individuals.

What is your greatest teaching success story?

This year I got the opportunity to work in the elementary classroom after working primarily with high school students the past few years. This was an exciting opportunity, but there was some fear of the unknown because most of my experience in the classroom was with older students. There was a third grade student in the class who had very limited reading and writing abilities when I started working with him. With the help of the amazing staff in our classroom that same student is making tremendous progress in all areas. The student went from a kindergarten reading level to demonstrating the ability to read grade-level text with minimal supports. The best part of the process has been watching his confidence grow. This student would never voluntarily participate in any activity that involved reading a few months ago. However, now he loves to show off his newly acquired reading skills. He has become a consistent contributor during all classes and routinely volunteers to read aloud.

What have you learned from your students?

The biggest thing that I have learned from my students is patience! Obviously working in this field requires a lot of patience and understanding. Working in schools that service students with disabilities can be challenging. All the students learn at a different pace and require different supports. It usually takes students a long time to change bad habits and tendencies. Through this job I have grown into a much more patient and understanding person. I now have the ability to handle difficult situations in the school setting with a calm approach.

Caterina Campelli – Teacher

“Ms. Campelli is a hard, dedicated worker, who has a passion for education and life-long learning. She motivates her students to understand their capabilities, and it is proven by the smiles on their faces when they accomplish a difficult task. Ms. Campelli has been an asset to our program and I know she will continue to excel as a leader. “  – Jessica Gale, Operations Manager, Camino Alto at Windham Public Schools, Windham, CT

  • Windham, CT
  • English Literature, University of Connecticut
    Special Education, University of Saint Joseph

Why did you become a teacher?

One of my first jobs was a child care provider for a girl who had severe autism. Previously, I had not interacted closely with people that had disabilities, but I was aware of the stigma that people had about those that have disabilities. While working with this girl (who was primarily non-verbal at the time), I saw how much knowledge she had, and how she just expressed it in a different way than I did. This intrigued me, and I became passionate about wanting to learn about different student’s strengths and use these strengths to teach them in the best way possible. Since then, I’ve pursued jobs working with people that have different needs, and they all have confirmed my love and passion for this field.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

I love the team I work with. It’s one of the first times I have had to work so closely with so many different people (my director, my assistant director, my teacher assistants, other teachers and the social worker, my TEAM mentor). I have enjoyed coaching these people, being coached, and watching myself and my staff members grow to support the students in the best way possible. Everyone has had different opinions, ways to approach the students, and when we put all our heads together, we make a great team.

What is your greatest teaching success story?

This question I find hard to answer. To pick out one moment as my greatest success seems like an impossible task. Overall, my greatest success has been the growth that my students have made this year. It’s my first year teaching, and my first year in the High Roads program. Not only have I seen my students growing academically, but I have witnessed them growing behaviorally as well. I look around my room at each of my students, think about where they were at the beginning of the year, and my heart swells with pride. Their successes are my greatest success.

What have you learned from your students?

The students have taught me many things over the year, but most importantly, they have taught me about the importance of maintaining a compassionate heart. The job as a teacher might not always be easy, but sometimes the job of being a student is not easy either. The students have taught me that even on the hardest days, I still need to continue to hold onto the compassionate heart that guided me to become a teacher in the first place. I do that by being empathetic to each student’s situation and by listening to them when they need it (and even when they don’t think they need it).

Jes Colatta – Teacher

“The passion in Mrs. Colatta’s work ethic is clearly evident as she displays a high level of ambition each and every day. She constantly makes an effort to take her level of responsibility a step higher and always demands to learn more about her role and function and those around her, as well.” – Jermaine Nicholas, Capital Academy, Harrisburg, PA

  • Harrisburg, PA
  • English Studies (B.A) Language & Literature (M.A) Education & Langauge-based Learning Disabilities (M.ED)

Why did you become a teacher?

I wanted a rewarding career that would enable me to pass on my love of literature.

What do you love most about teaching with Capital Academy?

Everyday is unique and interesting. No two days are similar.

What is your greatest teaching success story?

Developing a trustful relationship with a student is now able to confide in me when there are issues outside of the classroom.

What have you learned from your students?

A sense of humor is critical.

Olandrian Glasper  – Teacher

“Olandrian has been a valuable asset to my Title I team for two years now. While the students she works with can be extremely challenging, Olandrian displays both great patience and a very positive demeanor which allows her students to realize their fullest potential.

She receives rave reviews from administrators for her willingness to participate in faculty meetings both during the day and after school which she is not required to attend, but she does so for the benefit of her students. She has also served as a mentor for a new Title I teacher who shares her classroom space with Olandrian.  While Olandrian is very thorough in her lesson planning as reflected by the activities she plans for her students, she is always looking for ways to enhance them further to better meet the needs of her students. As a result, she is highly respected by both the staff and parents at her school.” – Jeff Lobo, Academy of St. Benedict the African – Laflin, Chicago, IL

  • Chicago, IL
  • Journalism (B.A), Human Services Administration and Nonprofit Management (M.S)

Why did you become a teacher?

While working as a regional director for a teen apprenticeship program, I found myself marveling at the connections other caring adults were able to make with their participants. While I enjoyed helping to move many programs along and creating exciting partnerships, I often thought about how those connections had the power to change lives. In fact, entertaining the thought of teaching was like finding the missing link. I was a program administrator minus the hands-on experience of engaging students one-to-one. After considerable thought and a referral from a friend, I was convinced that I could make a bigger impact with children if I supported them in a direct service capacity.

What do you love most about teaching with Catapult Learning?

I really enjoy teaching at The Academy of St. Benedict the African. It is such a warm and inviting environment and the staff and administration make you feel like part of the team. Their comprehensive approach to teaching compliments my natural instincts, so I truly feel right at home.

What is your greatest teaching success story?

A few years ago, I asked my new class of kindergarteners why they were in Title I. I generally ask this question upon first meeting my students just to set the stage for our work together. One little girl shyly stated that she was in Title I because she wanted to learn how to read. By the end of that year she was able to sound out CVC words, build word families and read emergent reader texts. Midway through though, I remember reminding her of our initial conversation and she smiled so bright. It was as if she knew what great successes were yet ahead. Even now, her mom and grandma reflect on those early days and the easily recognizable gains she’s made. Today, that student is a very capable and confident rising third grader. In fact, while proctoring the NWEA test this spring, I checked in with her and asked “Are you sure you’re making good choices?”  She replied, “Yes, I am 100% confident!”

What have you learned from your students?

Children deserve and expect to be respected as smart and capable individuals. The more genuine and uninhibited you are in your approach to teaching them (while elevating their abilities), the more success you will have helping them realize their goals.

Michelle Hamble – Teacher

“Ms. Hamble has stepped up to provide tutoring and assistance with courses every Saturday for the last several weeks. Each week she sends an encouraging email indicating the successes of students who are putting their “all’ into the classes they need to obtain their high school diploma. Ms. Hamble has been a positive role model of strength and motivation for students that do not like to come to school. Not only are they working diligently, but doing so on the weekend! This kind of encouragement and dedication should not go unnoticed. I feel Ms. Michelle Hamble has gone above and beyond in her love for students, especially those who are at-risk in a credit recovery setting such as ours. “  –  Jutta Casseles, Area Manager, Marion County Florida, Catapult Academy

  • Ocala, FL
  • Interdisciplinary Education 6-12, Web Design, Digital Photography, Mathematics 6-12

Why did you become a teacher?

The reason I became a teacher is being able to share my knowledge with my students. I love seeing the reactions on their faces when they finally get what they’ve been trying to learn. Growing up I had several teachers that made learning fun and interesting, I strive to be that teacher for my students. Being able to explain things to the students in new and different ways so that they will each get a unique experience and possibly a new love of learning is what I love.

What do you love most about teaching with Catapult Academy?

What I love most about Catapult is being able to spend more quality one-on-one time with my students. Learning about each student as an individual is so important to their education. If you don’t know their experiences then there is no way you can reach them on a personal level. Catapult gives us that opportunity.

What is your greatest teaching success story?

There are so many successes, seeing my first graduate walk across the stage after my first full semester teaching was amazing. This student pushed herself so hard to get completed before Thanksgiving so she could walk at our December 2017 ceremony. Seeing her with her husband and son after the ceremony just validated why I am doing what I do every day.

What have you learned from your students?

I have learned so much from my students during my time with Catapult. I’ve learned that if you persevere and are determined you can do anything you want. You have to ignore all of the negative things people say and the roadblocks that are placed in front of you and realize that the only person that can write the story of your life is you. My students show me that every day.

Terricus Macon  – Climate Manager

“Mr. Macon is an active guided group instruction facilitator, helping a group of at-risk youth set and accomplish new goals on a daily basis. Since joining the Catapult team at Cougar Academy, Mr. Macon helped bring suspension and expulsion rates down 43%.

Mr. Macon shows up everyday with a positive energy to help our children become successful. His communication skills, professionalism, and work ethic are second to none. He is a dedicated professional who is passionate in helping our youth reach their goals.” – Ryan Pope, Program Director of Cougar Academy at E.A. Cox Middle School in Columbia, Tennessee.

  • Columbia, TN

How long have you been with Catapult Academy?

One year.

To which schools are you assigned? Tell us a little about the service you provide to the students there?

Cougar Academy at E.A. Cox Middle School in Columbia, Tennessee. I am directly responsible for providing a safe, normative culture environment conducive to learning. This includes guided group interaction facilitator in which the students set goals, as well as providing positive feedback in reaching these goals; One-on-one academic intervention and counseling; Monitoring the students that receive a behavioral action plan, and checking weekly progress. In our program, we empower the students, support and help them with positive peer pressure, social, and leadership skills.
How is working for Catapult Academy important in meeting your professional goals?

Working for Catapult Academy has inspired and motivated me to further my education. With my growth educationally, I can move towards my growth professionally to becoming a Program Director. One day I would like to have my own program, and even oversee or support other schools. I have been working with at-risk youth for 20 years and Catapult Academy has given me the opportunity to learn and grow as a professional.

What is your most recent Catapult Academy success story? What is your greatest Catapult Academy success story?

My most recent success story was hearing a student tell the faculty, students, and superintendent during leadership day that I was his role model and someone he looked up to. The student expressed how much of a positive image I have in his life. I was VERY appreciative to hear that.

The greatest Catapult Academy success story has to do with our Dreambox Math Skills Challenge. Dreambox is a math program to help students to gain growth in math skills, and in turn, helps with proficiency in math standards. Our program has a maximum of 25 students. The entire school has 764 students.  Cougar Academy had the #2, #4, #12, #13 top-ranked students in the entire student population. Our students initially come to us for behavior, academic, or attendance correction. It was a big win for our team to see the growth these students have achieved behaviorally, academically, and socially. We also had three eighth grade students recently graduate from the academy and go on to high school, another big win for us.