Educator Spotlight – October 2014

Educator Spotlight

educator spotlightAnnouncing the October 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!

  • Diana Brown – Literacy First Consultant – Clermont, FL
  • Lynn Howell – Teacher – Chicago, IL
  • Tamara Moller – Teacher – Los Angeles, CA
  • Sandra Walters – Teacher – Orlando, FL
  • Cynthia Duke – Teacher – Metairie, LA

Diana Brown pictureDiana Brown – Literacy First Consultant

  • Clermont, FL
  • B.A. Elementary Education, M.Ed. Exceptional Child Education – University of Central Florida

How did you become a Literacy First consultant?

I facilitated all of the Literacy First Schools in Lake County, Florida, as a Title I Specialist. I observed the impact of the Literacy First process within our school district as student performance and teacher quality improved. During one of the Leadership classes lead by Bill Blokker and Paula Whittier, I was asked to consider becoming a Literacy First Consultant. I accepted the invitation and retired from the Lake County School system one year later.

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

The excitement when teachers implement the Literacy First process and see results with their students is so fulfilling to them and to me. It mirrors that teachable moment in the classroom where the “AHA” moment occurs! I value the love and support of the Literacy First family both personally and professionally.

What is your greatest Literacy First consulting success story?

Through a three-year Literacy First contract, I had the opportunity to work with a low-performing school and its teachers. One of its teachers struggled her first year of teaching and there was a question as to whether or not she would be rehired. Her second year of teaching, she was exposed to the Literacy First process. She implemented the process with fidelity and was so excited to share her students’ results with me during the coaching days and walk-throughs. The process turned her teaching around and gave her self-confidence to continue her passion in making a difference in the lives of each student. The last training day of the three-year contract she approached me to share that she had decided to pursue her master’s degree in curriculum & instruction as a direct result of our Literacy First work together!

What have you learned from your experience as a consultant?

Facilitating the professional growth of educators impacting the teaching and learning process is one of the greatest professional blessings of my career. Every person has untapped potential. Providing quality professional development and ongoing coaching support to assist educators in discovering and unleashing their untapped potential is so very powerful. Through trust, respect, optimism, and intentionality, positive collaborative relationships are built that can foster endless possibilities for teaching and learning.

Lynn Howell - PhotoLynn Howell – Teacher

  • Chicago, IL
  • Educational Leadership, Technology Education, National-Louis University; Mathematics and Education, Northeastern Illinois University

Why did you become a teacher?

As a student, I had the good fortune to learn from many wonderful teachers, not just academics but also about compassion, understanding, and the importance of being involved with those in the communities to which we belong. In high school, I belonged to The Future Teachers Society, so I had the opportunity to work with the teachers in my school and play different roles in the classroom settings, including covering classes and leading lessons. I also tutored at my grammar school while in high school and college. My experiences as a student, middle school mathematics teacher, and school administrator have taught me to value the importance of being a lifelong learner and sharing your mind and heart with those you love and those with whom you share the world. It instilled within me a desire to share this with children as my teachers did with me and help them become strong, independent learners in their own rights with their own love of reading, math, history, and science that they can then pass on to future generations.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

Teaching for Catapult allows me to really get to know the strengths and needs of my students by working in the smaller group settings. I can differentiate as needs appear. I love the glow from the children when the light bulb goes on and they “get it,” whatever skills we are working with at the moment. Working in concert with both the teachers and the parents for the best for our children strengthens the foundation that it takes a village to raise a child.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

For the past four years, I have been teaching a boy with autism. In first grade, he was quiet, whispered, struggled to hold a pencil, could not identify/read/retrieve sight words or work with numbers in any way. The students who were with him in my group became his helpers and advocates. Most stayed in the same class through the years, so there was a consistency with peer mentoring. Students new to his group quickly grew to love and support him too. As his confidence grew, so did his ability to speak louder, share connections to stories, read the words on a page, and indicate a growing measure of comprehension. Although he still needs strong support, especially in math, it has been wonderful to see him become more independent and willing to participate and share. While he is now transitioning to a new school with special education services to meet his growing needs as he enters fourth grade, he has been a blessing to those who have come to love him as we have worked with both him and his parents. Again, a village to raise a child.

What have you learned from your students?

I think that through my years in education as both a teacher and administrator I have learned a multitude of things from my students. These are just a few:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Patience
  • Love and Compassion
  • Fortitude and forbearance
  • The need for a great sense of humor

Tamara Moller - pictureTamara Moller – Teacher

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • B.S. Secondary Education, M.A. Ed Curriculum and Instruction, M.A. Psychology, LMFT

Why did you become a teacher?

I originally started my college career with a degree in Biological Science and continued my education in Pre-Med. Being a single mother at the time I realized that my sons needed me to be home more with them; that is when I decided to get my second degree in education. Once I became a teacher, it became evident to me that this is the job for me. Watching the transformation of young minds as they learn and grow into young adults is so rewarding.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

Being a Catapult Learning teacher allows me the creative freedom to target each student individually or in a small group setting to ensure that each student develops the skills to become successful in their own education. I enjoy the fast pace of changing groups so I am continually busy working with students. Another part that I like is the close collaboration with the classroom teachers regarding the students’ needs in the classroom and what they are studying so we can implement some of the same concepts.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

It is hard to think of just one success story because I have several. One of the most recent stories is when I was teaching math to a student. This particular student had struggled with her math facts for several years and got frustrated watching her fellow classmates’ just sail through their assignments while she was still struggling on the first few problems. Working with her twice a week I would notice that she could not retain any concept that she was taught. I was re-teaching the same concepts over and over. Talking with her mother, she had noticed the same thing at home with not only math but her reading as well.

We continued working over the same/similar concepts for about a month bringing in different manipulatives, incorporating math games (in class and I sent suggestions for home, too), and practice, practice, practice!! She finally got it!! Her self-esteem soared and she enjoys math class now. Her mother even thanked me because she could not believe that her daughter finally understands math. It makes me feel great knowing how I have changed this student’s life.

What have you learned from your students?

I have been a teacher for 12 years now and I have learned so much from my students. I have had the opportunity to teach students ranging from first graders to twelfth grader, and they all are different. The younger students remind me to laugh and have fun, while the middle school students teach me to be patient, watch body language to determine what type of day they are having, and really listen. The high school level taught me humility. Not everyone knows everything about a single subject, and it reminds me to never stop learning myself.

Sandra Walters pictureSandra Walters – Teacher

  • Orlando, FL
  • Elementary Education, University of Central Florida

Why did you become a teacher?

I became a teacher so that I could help children reach their fullest potential. Every child deserves to have someone rooting for them, and I know that not all kids have that. As a teacher, I get to inspire students to want to do better, and in the end, be successful.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

Catapult Learning makes it easy to affect real change in students’ everyday lives. I am able to pinpoint areas of weakness and intervene immediately. Students recognize that they come to Title I class to work on their struggles in reading and math, and they take advantage of it! I love when students tell me their weaknesses and ask when we can learn about them!

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

I had a student who was really struggling in math. So much so, that when she came to my class, she would end up in tears. After discussing how we could make the situation better (increasing the number of times she came to Title I, trying to have a happier disposition about math and her abilities), she has made great strides! Her confidence has improved, which is showing in her work! It’s just so rewarding to see the progress my students make from year to year.

What have you learned from your students?

My students have taught me quite a few things: Life is full of ups and downs, but it’s best to focus on the positive; the little things go a long way (smelly markers are amazing!); and with a little patience, we can all be successful.

Cyndi Duke photo2Cynthia Duke – Teacher

  • Metairie, LA
  • M.Ed. Elementary Education, Guidance, and Counseling, Loyola University

Why did you become a teacher?

I followed my mother’s footsteps since I saw the great satisfaction she received helping children to grow, mature, and achieve the goals needed to prosper in today’s world. It fulfilled my basic desire to help others.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

I love seeing the strides the children make in order to strengthen themselves in reading and helping them gain confidence in themselves as successful readers.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

I’m so appreciative when the parents of former students thank me and tell me how confident and successful their child has become in reading.

What have you learned from your students?

I’ve learned that all children want to be proficient readers, and with the right attitude and using a variety of techniques, I can help them reach their goals.


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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