Announcing the March 2014 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!
- Greg Boser – Guidance Counselor – Indiana, PA
- Lana Munsell – Teacher – Greensburg, PA
- Liz Sherrer – Literacy First Consultant – Moore, OK
- Allison Zimpfer – Coach – Honolulu, HI
Greg Boser – Guidance Counselor
- Indiana, PA
St. Bonaventure University, School Guidance and Counseling, M.Ed.
To which Schools are you assigned? Tell us a little about the service you provide to the students there?
I am the school Guidance Counselor at St. Bernard, Divine Redeemer, and Mary Queen of Apostles. I provide individual counseling and classroom guidance in those schools.
How is working for Catapult Learning important in meeting your professional goals?
For the past 39 years I have dedicated my life to the education of young people. Catapult Learning has allowed me to continue on that journey that I started many years ago.
What is your most recent Catapult Learning success story? What is your greatest Catapult Learning success story?
I don’t have a single success story, I consider all my students a success story. I give my students the tools to take with them as they travel through life. I try to help and prepare them for what awaits in the years ahead.
My greatest success story is when students smile when they see me and say hello in the hall and ask me how my day is going. I see them being respectful to other adults and to each other. I hear them using kind words, and working their problems out in an appropriate way. When I help a student in some way, I feel that I have made a difference and that is success to me.
Lana Munsell – Teacher
- Greensburg, PA
- Bachelor of Science Elementary Education
Why did you become a teacher?
I went back to school after I was married with a child of my own. It was then that I realized how much I enjoyed teaching. I loved teaching my daughter and knew that was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. And it proved to be a very good decision. The love of learning that I see in my students faces is a pleasure that I never would have felt had I chosen another field.
What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
I absolutely enjoy teaching different grade levels. I never get bored! Always something new and exciting! The flexibility teaching in different schools and different grades keeps me motivated.
What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?
I have worked for Catapult for over twenty years. I have many, many success stories. Many are from former students that remember my class and “thank” me for teaching them the relevance of math. Some are from parents of my students, they state “if it wasn’t for you my son/daughter wouldn’t have made it through high school.” Each and every smile from the face of a child whose “light has just been turned on” is a success story.
What have you learned from your students?
The best lesson I have learned from my students is to never stop learning myself. They have proven to me that every child can learn. And from them, I may have learned more than they. Having a child and grandchildren of my own has made me especially aware that every child is special. No matter what the educational issues or needs are, to the parent, this child is the most important person in the world and, we, the teacher, must acknowledge that.
Liz Sherrer – Literacy First Consultant
- Moore, OK
Oklahoma State University,University of Central Oklahoma. B.S. Elementary Education, M.A. Guidance and Counseling
How did you become a Literacy First consultant?
After moving to the New Orleans area,and trying to decide my next professional steps, someone Ihad worked with in Oklahoma shared that she was going to look into becoming a Literacy First Consultant. She encouraged me to pursue the possibility of becoming a trainer, and consultant with the Literacy First process. In my previous position, I was responsible for working with teachers to develop intervention and IEP plans for students, and the Literacy First process seemed like a strong plan for supporting all students to higher achievement. As I completed the initial training, I became more and more excited about the possibilities that the Literacy First process would provide – for schools and teachers. The learning curve for literacy was high for me, but the training and coaching pieces matched previous areas of expertise. I still love being a consultant after thirteen years!
What do you love most about being a consultant for Literacy First?
Seeing teachers build their own knowledge base about literacy resulting in higher achievement for their students is a definite highlight. I love the ongoing relationship developed through the three year process and in many cases beyond the three years.
What is your greatest Literacy First consulting success story?
It’s been exciting to see achievement growth in several districts and states, but the most dramatic success probably occurred in Arizona. The school population was high in poverty and mobility. Nearly ninety percent of the students had English as their second language,and the school was the lowest performing school in the district. During the four years, I spent with the school,we saw two grade levels move from the bottom level of achievement to the top level ! That was exciting and motivating for all of the teachers working in a challenging environment.
What have you learned from your experience as a consultant?
All schools are different. As a consultant, I must find a way to work within the culture of the school and district to bring about change. What works in one place,may or may not work the same way.
Allison Zimpfer – Coach
- Honolulu, HI
- Marist College, BA English Literature/Adolescent Education; University of Hawaii at Manoa, MEd K-12 Curriculum Studies
What is your prior teaching experience?
I was a high school English Language Arts teacher as well as an adult education provider in the Clinical Competency Based High School Diploma Program (CBASE) with the Hawaii Department of Education. In addition to teaching I was given the privilege of holding several teacher leadership positions. Those positions included: cross content area team leader, coordinator of after school credit recovery program, adult education coordinator and department grade level chair.
Why did you decide to become a coach?
During my time in the classroom I wanted to give 150% to the students listed on my roster. This became difficult with all of the additional preparation in ensuring that my curriculum was aligned to the appropriate level of rigor as outlined in the newly adopted Common Core State Standards, attending professional development, implementing new guidelines set forth by state initiatives, and developing materials to appropriately track and react to student data. The work that I was doing outside of my classroom also deserved 150% of my effort, so that each of my students were presented with the highest quality of instruction that I could provide. I decided to become a coach because I wanted to support teachers in that work outside of the classroom. I wanted teachers to see that although the demands outside of the classroom may seem overwhelming, they have a tremendous impact on the quality of instruction. I wanted to support teachers on this journey to providing the greatest educational experience to their students as possible.
Why do you feel coaching is a valuable professional development experience for teachers?
Educators are often expected to develop professionally in isolation. They are confined to their own classrooms every day, and not exposed to witnessing educational strategies and techniques in action in live classrooms. Frequently a solution to this issue is to ask teachers to view videos of teachers delivering exemplar lessons. The problem with this is that there is not often an opportunity for a dialogue to occur between the teacher delivering the lesson and the teacher observing the lesson. That is the most valuable aspect of observations, the opportunity to debrief and receive feedback from another educational professional. When teachers are encouraged to develop professionally it is most effective when a teacher receives feedback on the implementation of a strategy based on their own teaching, in their own classroom, with their own students. Coaching provides a relevant and safe environment for teachers to grow and succeed.
What is your most rewarding Catapult Learning coaching success story?
–I have had so many experiences during my time coaching that it was difficult for me to choose just one story. I have included three experiences below.
- There was a teacher who at first was very resistant to allowing me into her classroom, she really was not interested in utilizing the support materials that her department and I had collaborated together to create, nor was she interested in participating in any professional development that was provided to the school. Then something changed, she heard her colleagues and I talking about all of the great strategies that they were implementing in their classrooms that were having a direct positive impact on student achievement. She realized that by allowing me into their classrooms her colleagues were succeeding in providing successful opportunities for their students. She invited me into her classroom on my next visit, and even stayed after school with me to discuss some ideas that she had about implementing small group instruction into her classroom. This teacher and I now work together consistently, and even debrief and brainstorm together over lunch.
- One day I was walking on a campus where I had been working with teachers for several months. While passing a group of students during recess one boy said hello to me. As I was walking away I heard the boy turn to his friends and say, “That’s Miss Z., she’s dope. Since she’s been coming around to talk with my English teacher, class is way more fun, and I actually understand stuff now.” When I left classroom teaching I knew that I would miss the day to day interactions with my students most. Hearing this student say that what I was doing was having a direct impact on him and his views of his class helped me to remember that although I am not directly delivering instruction to students, I am helping to have a positive impact on their educational experience.
- I was meeting with a teacher and after we discussed all of the great things that had happened during lesson that I had just observed she said, “Thank you for coming into my room, and letting me know that I’m doing the right thing. And thank you for reassuring me that I am a great teacher. Sometimes it is easy to get lost in all of the paperwork, and allow it consume why you’re really here. I am here to teach, and to be good at teaching. When we work together I feel like you help me to remember that.” Helping to remind that teacher that she is valued, made me feel confident in the work that I am doing as well as reassured me that the reason why I entered the field of educational coaching is apparent to those with whom I work.
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!