Educator Spotlight: October 2013

Educator Spotlighteducator spotlight

Announcing the October 2013 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 Catapult colleagues in recognition of the positive impact they have on children and schools throughout the country. They are our very own shining stars!

  • Lois Henry – Teacher – Jacksonville, FL
  • Janet Lenger – Teacher – Dayton, OH
  • Sandra Gorney – Teacher – Chicago, IL
  • Rita Stavrou – Math and Literacy Coach – NYC, NY
  • Stephanie Hoskin – Literacy First Consultant – Vinita, OK

Lois Henry – TeacherLois Henry-Oct2013

  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Elementary Education and ESE

Why did you become a teacher?

Very simply, I admired my fourth grade teacher and from that time on it was my goal to become a teacher.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

Working with small groups of students gives me the opportunity to see the growth my students make. I feel that the strategies we use in our instruction work well and motivate the students to be actively involved in the lessons.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

Last year one of my students graduated from the eighth grade. I had been her teacher since she was in the fifth grade.  The first year she started in my class, she was struggling with phonics; and she was somewhat resistant as far as applying herself.  Gradually, she began to see that she was making progress after putting forth effort to use the strategies.  I attended her graduation, and after the ceremony, her mother hugged me with joy and said, ” We did it!”

What have you learned from your students?

I have learned that students respond more readily when I show sincere interest in them as individuals, show enthusiasm in my teaching, and I am honest with them about my own shortcomings.  Students want to know that I am a good listener, too!

Janet Lenger – TeacherJanet Lenger-Oct2013

  • Dayton, OH
  • Michigan State University, Elementary Education

Why did you become a teacher?

My fifth grade teacher was wonderful.  She made learning fun and interesting.  Every student was made to feel special.  I wanted to be that kind of teacher to other children.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

I like developing lessons using trade books.  I am able to introduce my students to good children’s literature and authors.

I also love to use manipulatives when teaching math. It is always a delight when I see the learning lights go on for students when they finally learn a difficult math concept. They become totally involved in the whole process and begin developing a love for solving problems.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

One story involves an autistic child.  I began working with him in first grade.  He did not want to be touched.  When upset or frustrated he would stand beside my chair and cry.  In second grade he chose to sit next to me.  He would answer questions, but never look me in the eye.  Now, in third grade, he is an eager participant in both reading and math class.  He looks me directly in the eye as he discusses the story or explains math problems.

Success in teaching Title 1 is a collaborative partnership with the classroom teacher.  Using the Two-Way communication form and informal conferencing involves sharing ideas, teaching techniques, addressing skill needs and jointly determining the best way to ensure student success.

What have you learned from your students?

My students have taught me patience, flexibility, perseverance, and most of all the joy of seeing the world through a child’s eyes.

Sandra Gorney – TeacherSandra Gorney-Oct2013

  • Chicago, IL
  • Undergraduate: Major: Journalism  Minor: Fine ArtGraduate: Masters in Teaching Emphasis: Reading/Language Arts and Political Science

Why did you become a teacher?

I always knew I was destined for more, and after 20 years of working in the corporate world of Advertising, Management Consulting and Investment Banking I decided it was time to reinvent myself. After 9/11, the investment bank where I worked suffered many losses, and unfortunately, I was laid off. However, sometimes in life we are able to turn tragedy into triumph so I channeled that negative outcome into a positive force. I returned to education, destined to pursue a career with more meaningful rewards. I wanted to make a difference in a child’s life with the idea that each day is an opportunity to change someone’s world by helping them learn and grow.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

What I love the most about teaching for Catapult Learning is the small group instruction model. This allows teachers to develop a close, personal relationship with each student. We are able to connect with these students in ways that foster open communication and break down some of the barriers they face in the classroom, and in their personal lives. We serve the neediest students and I am a firm believer in helping those who are most in need.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

I have had many successful teaching moments, and I always anticipate the state testing results, hoping that each student has achieved a higher score to culminate their hard work and dedication. One student who has endured many hardships, stands out in my mind and had built up numerous barriers to protect her from life’s continued disappointment and failure. She was in fourth grade when I began working at the school and after many months of positive reinforcement and motivational teaching, I was able to break through her barriers, allowing her to accept the opportunity of education. I never gave up on her, and with the additional support of her guardian, classroom teacher, and the principal, she was able to build her self-esteem and realize her academic potential. I still keep in touch with her, as she is now in high school and doing quite well, hoping to pursue a career in nursing.

What have you learned from your students?

What I have learned from my students is to take each day as it comes, and treat each student individually. What works for one student my not work for another student so I differentiate my teaching style and methods to suit the needs of the student. I’ve learned how a comforting smile goes a long way in a student’s life and sometimes showing compassion, listening and understanding helps the child immeasurably. As teachers we must be mindful of our wielding power and we need to harness that power in positive ways that always builds a child’s character. After all, we teach the whole child with the hope they develop their own independent learning skills.

Rita Stavrou – CoachRita Stavrou-Oct2013

  • New York City, NY
  • Queens College, NY
    Fordham University, NY
    University College Dublin, Ireland

What is your prior teaching experience?

With over 12 years teaching experience in private and public school environments, I have worked with students in various grades from Kindergarten through 6th Grade. This has been a wonderful opportunity for me as it allowed me to experience the curriculum in various grades, to see the continuum from grade to grade and to appreciate grade-level expectations.

Why did you decide to become a coach?

Coaching is a perfect fit for me. As an educator who is passionate about student-centered learning, coaching allows me to engage teachers in professional dialogue that supports best instructional practices and promotes student achievement and confidence. It provides an opportunity to empower teachers and grow instructional leaders within the classroom.

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

Coaching is a valuable professional development experience for teachers because it provides an opportunity for teachers to reflect on the ‘big picture’ in their classrooms. Taking a purposeful ‘step away’ from the dynamic environment of the classroom allows teachers to view instruction and student learning through a different lens.  It encourages teachers to reflect on their instructional practices and to further develop and/or fine-tune their craft in a supportive environment.

What is your most rewarding Catapult Learning coaching success story?

This is a challenging question for me to answer because every coaching day brings a measure of success for me – some are small successes that you have to look carefully to see while other are bigger and more obvious successes.

An example that comes to mind happened today. While delivering a grade-level professional development workshop that was infused with hands-on activities that reflected best instructional practices, a teacher said to me, “I get it. You are asking us to do what we should be asking our students to do and it’s hard”. The teacher was referring to the student-centered and higher order learning opportunities that were embedded in the workshop – turn and talk, four-corners activity, gallery walk, brainstorming, sentence strip sorting, write around, true or false, etc…  Of course, it became a coach-able moment as we discussed challenges students might encounter and ways to plan for student success.

Stephanie Hoskin – Literacy First ConsultantStephanie Hoskin-Oct2013

  • Vinita, OK
  • Northeastern State University and the University of Oklahoma:
    B.S. Elementary Education, M.S. Ed. School Administration; Doctoral student majoring in Educational Administration, Curriculum and Supervision

How did you become a Literacy First consultant?

“Work chooses the man.”  ~Sophy Burnham

I was first introduced to the Literacy First Reading Process through professional development training nearly 16 years ago (yikes!) when I was a Kindergarten teacher. I utilized the process for many years as a teacher and later became the principal of an elementary school in the process of implementing Literacy First practices. Health issues forced a career change and a more flexible schedule which brought me to consulting work. Luckily for me, Literacy First was looking for new consultants and I had lots of first-hand Literacy First experience.

What do you love most about being a consultant for Literacy First?

“No pleasure endures unseasoned by variety.”  ~Publilius Syrus

Consulting for Literacy First has not been a dull career choice. One day I can find myself introducing teachers to effective instructional strategies and the next day I am editing the teacher’s manual for a new product line. I can make a school site visit to work with a group of teachers on fine-tuning their instructional approach or, I can be working with smart and funny colleagues writing training materials. I can be observing classroom instruction with a team of school administrators or, I can be immersed in a model lesson with a small group of curious, interesting, and squirrely first graders. The variety of assignments, colleagues, schools, teachers and students has sharpened my skills, stretched my thinking, and satisfied me professionally.

What is your greatest Literacy First consulting success story? 

“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals.” ~Madam Marie Curie

One measure of success as a consultant, and arguably the most important measure, is the development of others. For me, working with a first-year teacher who was surrounded by a toxic culture with a challenging group of students is a highlight. We developed a relationship through trainings, sporadic site-visits and email exchanges over a period of three years. Not only did I get to witness her transformation into a confident, nurturing and exceptional teacher who has a tremendous impact on her students, I saw her become a respected and trusted colleague. To me, this story illustrates the power of compounding success that began with one teacher. I am proud to say that my success story is one that is repeated every day many times over by my own colleagues at Literacy First.

What have you learned from your experience as a consultant?

“The man who moves mountains begins by carrying away small stones.” ~Chinese Proverb

 I have learned that big things begin with small steps.

Writing begins with a quote.

Loving to read begins with a book.

A great training begins with a story.

Gaining the trust of a teacher begins with listening.

Improving reading instruction begins with a conversation.

Increasing student achievement begins with a lesson.

Teaching begins with a heart for humanity.

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

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


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