Catapult Learning Educator Spotlight: September 2012

Educator Spotlight

Catapult Learning has long recognized that our teachers, our coaches, and our specialized services professionals are the foundation upon which our company stands. We literally wouldn’t be here without their tireless efforts to help struggling students succeed! We thank you for all that you do each and every day.

In May 2012, we introduced the Catapult Learning Educator Spotlight where we honored some of our most dedicated teachers and education professionals. They are our very own shining stars!

The Catapult Learning Educator Spotlight will now be a monthly feature on our Catapult Corner Blog. The educators that are highlighted are nominated by their Catapult colleagues, in recognition of the positive impact they make with children throughout the country.

We are extremely excited to announce our honorees for September 2012!

    • Jeff Lobo-Teacher-Chicago, IL
    • Linda Cobourn-Coach-Philadelphia, PA
    • Linda Velie-Literacy First Consultant-Nationwide


Jeff Lobo – Reading and Math Teacherjeff-lobo-teacher-may2012

  • Chicago, IL
  • University of Iowa, B.A. Elementary Education
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ed. M. in Educational Policy Studies

Why did you become a teacher?

I chose to become a teacher because I always had a mission to help those students in greatest need make a positive contribution to society. As a graduate of a Jesuit high school in the northern suburbs of Chicago, I believe the teaching profession is the embodiment of being a “Man for Others”.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

The most rewarding aspect of Catapult Learning are the small teacher-student ratios. This facet of the program has allowed me over the years to help my students make significant achievement gains in the areas of both reading and math.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

My greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story would have involved a boy who I worked with from Grades 5-8. When he started with me, he was struggling in math and was performing well below grade level. He had major issues with self-confidence. After hours of working with him both during class and during my own time after school, he began to develop the confidence necessary to compete with his peers in the area of math. The challenge on a daily basis was finding ways to make the material come alive for him in a manner that he could both understand and then master the concepts.

What have you learned from your students?

My students have taught me the virtue of patience. They have taught me to never get overwhelmed no matter how major the task may appear. I have learned to live in the moment and teach each day like it might be my last and not to get preoccupied with the future.

Linda Cobourn – CoachLinda Cobourn-Coach-Sept2012

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Neumann University, B.A.
  • West Chester University, M.Ed.
  • Walden University, Ed.D.

What is your prior teaching experience?

I began my educational career as a librarian, and then taught high school English for three years. I switched to middle school and worked as a reading specialist after receiving my M.Ed. in Reading Education. I left middle school to finish my post-graduate studies and began to teach at the college level. I’ve been teaching college classes for almost four years.

Why did you decide to become a coach?

Coaching is the future of professional development. As a classroom teacher, I was often dissatisfied with the in-service workshops that offered no follow-up or chance to practice new skills. Once I started teaching pre-service teachers, I knew that I wanted to make their professional development experiences applicable to their area of service. Instructional coaching gives me the chance to make a difference, and not just with one person. There is a trickle-down effect since teachers then take new ideas into their classrooms.

Why do you feel coaching is a valuable professional development experience for teachers?

Coaching allows teachers to have a personal, one-on-one relationship with a professional coach for an extended period of time. The coach acts as a resource to the teacher and a sounding board for new ideas and strategies. Teaching is an isolating experience; working with a coach puts someone else in the picture.

What is your most rewarding Catapult Learning coaching success story?

Last year brought a lot of changes to the schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and those of us coaching in this area needed to find ways to support our teachers as they implemented Understanding by Design for their unit plans and integrated Common Core Standards into their lessons. One principal I worked with was not sure how working with a coach could help it all come together, but by the end of the school year he became a great supporter of the coaching model and told me that he could not have gotten his faculty through the year without my help. That’s the end result to what all of us do: we make a difference to our teachers.

Linda Velie – Literacy First Consultantlinda-velie-consultant-sept2012-359x450

  • Cle Elum, WA
  • University of Washington, BA in Education & M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling
  • Former French Teacher in Middle and High School and School Counselor

Why did you become a Literacy First consultant?

I loved the caring spirit of the Blokker family, and the vision they created was and is strong and sustaining. I love teaching.

What do you love most about being a consultant?

I love to teach! It’s a blessing to watch students become more successful. I love investigating unknown places. The adventures experienced as a consultant make life fun. I love the people I meet. The chosen family that has happened because of being a consultant has sustained me through tough times.

What is your greatest Literacy First consulting success story?

Picher Cardin, a small town in NE Oklahoma. The town has now been evacuated because of the lead contamination that was damaging children’s brains, affecting the children’s ability to learn. Many success stories in that school. Marshall Elementary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Went from one of the least successful to one of the most successful schools. Emporia High School, Emporia, Kansas. The leadership teams and the teachers at all of these schools caused success to happen. Three current consultants are involved because they are good people, have seen the results, and were recommended by me! Kudos to Anni Reed, Barbara Mistelske and Kayla Robinson!

What have you learned from your students?

Every human is capable of learning, if we care enough about them, and if we provide the proper tools and support system. Many teachers have never taken any coursework on how to help their students be better readers. They are so grateful to have tools to make that happen. Many principals have not understood that their visibility in the school is important. Giving them a purpose to be in classrooms to act as a helping agent is so much more validating than simply “running the school”.

Thanks again to all of this month’s honorees!  You can thank them too, please leave your comments for our educators below!


  1. Janet Bliss Mello October 6, 2012 Reply


    You have been so much a part of building the Literacy First culture with your newsletter, pictures and willingness to step up to the new challenges of the Literacy First/Catapult Learning evolution.

    Congratulations on this spotlight article!
    Janet Bliss Mello

  2. Linda Powers October 7, 2012 Reply

    Congrats, Linda, on recognition well-deserved!
    Linda Powers

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