Announcing the January 2019 Educator Spotlight Honorees!

The Educator Spotlight is a monthly feature on our Catapult Corner Blog that highlights the teachers, assistants, specialist, coaches, and professionals across the Catapult Learning community who make a positive impact on our students and schools throughout the country. They are our very own shining stars!  The January 2019 Educator Spotlight honorees are:

  • Jennifer Chamberlin, Transition Coordinator, Sierra School at Eastern, Upper Extension, Sacramento, California
  • Aimee Hwang Russo, Transition Coordinator, High Road School of Norwalk, Norwalk, Connecticut

Jennifer and Aimee are transition coordinators. Transition coordinators are a valuable link between students’ academic and behavioral achievement in the classrooms and their success in their communities and workforce. Jennifer describes the role of transition coordinator:

“We help the students throughout their time here with ILS skills, work experience, and communication skills. The students begin working on campus and when they demonstrate the appropriate criteria, they can begin working off campus with a job coach. We also help them create resumes, cover letters, job applications, and budgets. This includes individual time with the students as well as when we go into the classrooms to teach a lesson plan.”

Aimee explains that she works closely with her students to make sure they have a concrete plan after they graduate. “I call it the Russo Formula. They have to have full-time work, or part- time work and school, or part-time work with a vocation training before they get their diplomas.”

Jennifer Chamberlin
Transition Coordinator
Sacramento, CA
National University, Behavior Analysis

“Jennifer leads the transition program at Sierra School.  She assists all the students in creating resumes, job applications and general life skills. She supports them in their process of obtaining jobs both on and off campus. Jennifer also has built a phenomenal relationship with all of her students.

Jennifer has moved from teaching in the classroom to a transition coordinator role. She has shined in both positions and has changed the transition department into something wonderful!”

— Lisa Allmon, Regional Instructional Specialist, Sierra School at Eastern Upper Extension

I became a teacher to work with students to help them realize their potential, aspirations, and worth. I enjoy teaching the students how to maximize their potential and set goals to achieve them.

The best part about teaching for Catapult Learning is the culture and environment that is upheld. Staff, teachers, and administration are supportive every step of the way. There is not a day that goes by when I do not feel supported by the people around me.

I feel like my greatest success story as a teacher has been my growth as a leader and mentor. The students have challenged me to discover different ways to teach specific learning styles and continue keeping them engaged.

The students have taught me patience, resilience, and the ability to adapt. I love that the day is never the same and each one has its own challenges. We go through the challenges together and are better the next day for it.

Aimee Hwang Russo
Transition Coordinator
Norwalk, CT

“Throughout the year, Aimee works with local community members and businesses in developing partnerships to support transition services. These same partnerships donate gifts for the students each year. Some of the many gifts include Bluetooth wireless headphones for the high school students, books, toys, hygiene kits, and uniform sweatshirts for each student.”

Lindsey Russo, Operations Manager, High Road School of Norwalk, Norwalk, Connecticut

The profession chose me. Someone in my personal life was born with special needs and as I began to learn about different disabilities the curiosity grew. I started taking classes and attending lectures on the challenges of students with a concentration in ASD, ADD/ADHD and speech and language. The curiosity evolved into a passion and led me to special education law. As my knowledge grew and it was no longer needed in my personal life, I sought out opportunities to share my knowledge. I started as an advocate and learned very quickly that educating students and their families lent to their academic success and I was completely hooked!

The level of resources at my disposal. Working for a large company specializing in special education affords me the opportunity to succeed at ground level, in the classroom with the student.

My greatest stories are about students having the “Aha!” moment about what we taught alongside academics. It is the strategies we teach and they continue to use in their adulthood that are my success story. My success stories are also when students come back and share their successes or when I run into their parents and they update me.

From my students I have learned the need for strategies to manage emotions because sometimes they can overtake the strongest of minds.