Educator Spotlight – November 2014

Educator Spotlight

educator spotlightAnnouncing the November 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!

  • Karly Anderson – Teacher – Jacksonville, FL
  • Jan Bentley – Literacy First Consultant – Perkins, OK
  • Rolinda Bradley – School Counselor- Jacksonville, FL
  • Joan Brehne – Teacher – Aventura, FL
  • Emily Elias – Teacher – Tucson, AZ
  • Karen Munson – Teacher – Dallas, TX
  • Angela Purin – Teacher – Tamaqua, PA

photo, Karly AndersonKarly Anderson – Teacher

  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Biology, College of Charleston

Why did you become a teacher?

When I was young, I often played “school” with my friends, as I am sure many young children do. But for some reason, I never grew out of it. I have always been the type of person who enjoyed helping people. When I was in college, I was constantly switching back and forth between teaching and nursing. Teaching won that battle, and I have not regretted that decision once.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

I could give you many answers to this question; however, what I truly love the most is the students. I wouldn’t be here without them, and I know many of the students wouldn’t be here without me. They are so resilient and have been through things that I couldn’t even imagine. Yet the students walk through that door every morning and keep striving toward their diploma. They are the life blood of my teaching career, and I give them much credit as to why I enjoy teaching for Catapult Academy. Another thing that I truly appreciate is my co- teachers. They are my support and our days wouldn’t run as smoothly without them.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

I have many wonderful stories in my experience teaching at Catapult Academy, but one does truly stick out. When I first started, I had a student that was having a hard time in life. She didn’t live in the best of neighborhoods and was constantly having trouble walking to and from school. She didn’t make it in everyday, but when she did she worked as hard as anyone I knew. She only had a few credits left to graduate but could not quite make it the first year. In her second year with Catapult Academy, she had similar issues at home and was struggling to finish on time. By the last month of school, she pushed through and was able to graduate. I got to know this student very well and determined that she loved to draw and really wanted to pursue a career in animation. I have since learned that she has enrolled in a local college and will be majoring in Digital Media. The day that she walked across the stage to receive her diploma was very rewarding to see as a teacher.

What have you learned from your students?

I have learned determination, motivation, dedication, and strength. These students have shown me that no matter what may be going wrong, there is always a way to make it right.

Jan Bentley photoJan Bentley – Literacy First Consultant

  • Perkins, OK
  • Elementary Education, Reading Specialist, K-12, University of Central Oklahoma

How did you become a Literacy First consultant?

I became a Literacy First Consultant after many years of helping faculties implement this process as a principal and in my own classroom. I saw first-hand how this process helped all students achieve in Reading. I started training during the summers, and upon retirement from public education, began training and consulting full time.

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

There are so many things that I love about this work. I enjoy going into schools and meeting the teachers and students because I always learn so much from them. I enjoy seeing the excitement in a teacher’s face when he/she begins to see the positive results after putting these strategies in place. It is always such a pleasure when a student stops me and says, “Listen to this,” and begins to read something to me. Also, when a school has entered into the second or third year of implementing the Literacy First process, I just have to smile when a teacher says, “This class came into my grade level with so many more skills than my class last year. . .”

What is your greatest Literacy First consulting success story?

It would be difficult to isolate just one. I have had the pleasure of working in many schools across the country and have been able to assist teachers in collecting and utilizing data to drive their lessons each day. I have witnessed numerous students who were stagnant in their learning begin to move forward in skills. I have personally seen dysfunctional schools with high numbers of discipline referrals begin to make headway by teaching students in their Zone of Proximal Development and watched those office visits decrease. The Literacy First process allows all students to achieve.

What have you learned from your experience as a consultant?

I’ve learned that even the best teachers can always be better, that students will rise to the expectations that are established for them, that data speaks louder than words but is not always as kind, that consistency is one of your best friends as a teacher in the classroom, and that there is always something else to learn.

photo, Rollinda Bradley1Rolinda Bradley – School Counselor

  • Jacksonville, FL
  • B.S. Education, Benedict College; M.A. Mental Health Counseling, Webster University

How long have you been with Catapult Academy?

I have been with Catapult Academy since March 2014.

To which school are you assigned? Tell us a little about the service you provide to the students there?

I am the School Counselor for all Duval County Catapult Academy sites. I have been providing school guidance and counseling since 2005 to the high school population, and I currently provide academic counseling and advising to students who are seeking the opportunity to earn their high school diploma.  I also provide students with the necessary resources to continue post-secondary options, including workforce and military. When time prevails, I am also a confidant and a shoulder to lean on.

How is working for Catapult Academy important in meeting your professional goals?

Working for Catapult Academy is important for me and my professional goals because I have an opportunity to change the paths of many young people who are seeking some type of success in their lives. My professional goals have always been to serve my community through strengthening young people. Education is the key to success; however, having support gives one the strength to turn the key.

What is your most recent Catapult Academy success story? What is your greatest Catapult Academy success story?

My most recent Catapult Academy success story was being able to hear a previous graduate express his excitement and achievements as a first year freshman at a university.  I observed this student struggle throughout the school year, but he never gave up.  His initial goal was to go to a military reserve unit after graduation but after being exposed to positive reinforcement from teachers and a team of Catapult Academy staff, he took a leap of faith and decided to continue his education. And he is now a member of his school’s student government society.

My greatest Catapult Academy success story is happening now.  I have seniors who are completing their course work and getting ready to graduate. This is success that will hopefully continue throughout the school year.

Photo, Joan BrehneJoan Brehne – Teacher

  • Aventura, FL
  • Elementary Education, College of New Jersey

Why did you become a teacher?

I always loved school, and because my teachers motivated me, I excelled in the educational environment. I won a scholarship to The College of New Jersey where I flourished and graduated with the skills to embark on my teaching career. I was eager to make a difference!

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

The students, of course! Catapult gives me the opportunity to motivate and interact with a variety of students and to acknowledge that each one is special.  Once I walk into my classroom and see the eager faces of my students, I am inspired and energized. The students continually reinforce the fact that I can make a difference.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

Many times when I completed a lesson, the students wanted to remain in the classroom. They were motivated to comprehend more and asked where they could find additional information. My greatest success story, however, is when we have “Open House” and the parents come to me and say, “My child never liked to read before coming to Catapult, and now he loves reading and wants to look for more books in the library.”

What have you learned from your students?

I learned that every student possesses a desire and ability to learn. Within each one is the spark for knowledge waiting to be ignited by a dedicated teacher. I also learned the positive energy of “teacher silence,” which entails listening to the words, conversations, opinions, and ideas that come from the students.

photo, Emily Elias1Emily Elias – Teacher

  • Tucson, AZ
  • Art, University of Iowa

Why did you become a teacher?

Working with children has always been a natural fit for me. I have tried other career paths and always migrate back to working with students.  Of course, it is very fulfilling to watch my students grow and mature, but it also requires me to remain open and creative in order to do the best for them. I enjoy this challenge.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

I want to make my love of reading contagious! The Catapult Learning program provides the avenue, and student progress is often very evident. I also appreciate the opportunity to work with students on a much more individual level, which Catapult Learning provides.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

Years down the line, students that I’ve worked with still come up to me to thank me for helping them as they share theirsuccess stories!

What have you learned from your students?

My students really want to learn and succeed. They are thankful for their teacher’s help even if they occasionally have a hard time showing it. Their resilience through difficult times is remarkable, and the fresh perspective they bring to class is often inspiring. These are only a few thoughts that come to mind.  My students teach me all the time.

Karen-Munson1Karen Munson – Teacher

  • Dallas, TX
  • Elementary Education, Brigham Young University

Why did you become a teacher?

I started saying I was going to be a teacher when I was in elementary school.  I had many people try to change my career goal, but I never wavered.  Being a teacher is who I am and what I have always wanted to be. I love working with children.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

I have really enjoyed working for Catapult Learning. I like working with small groups. I get to know each child better and have the freedom to provide the lessons that will help each child be successful. I work with wonderful, caring teachers and an understanding supervisor. I have felt very supported in my job.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

I cannot give just one success story. Each day is filled with success. It is the “I got it” moments that I love. It is the child that has worked hard on his sight words and then suddenly sees them in the story. It is when they get a math problem and exclaim, “I love Math. This is so fun.” I do not need big things to happen to see the light come on in their eyes.

What have you learned from your students?

I have learned that I need to continually be changing what I am doing to reach each child. My students have shown me that if they have a desire and work hard, they can make major progress. They can exceed our expectations.

Angela PurinAngela Purin – Teacher

  • Tamaqua, PA
  • Elementary Education, Kutztown University

Why did you become a teacher?

For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to become a teacher. While in grade school I had teachers who really impacted me. They took their time with their students and really wanted to see them succeed. These teachers talked to the students and were invested in their education. Growing up and going through school, I hoped to be the kind of teacher they were.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

I like the diversity of my groups, the ability to start the day teaching kindergarteners number recognition and ending the day teaching equations to seventh graders. I feel like I have gotten to know my students and their strengths and weaknesses. Being able to build relationships with them has helped me to help them succeed.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

I can’t just pick one; I have successes with students on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s that a student has completed a worksheet without my help for the first time or it’s reading in the newspaper that a past student has made honor roll at the high school level.

What have you learned from your students?

I have learned a lot from my students; sometimes they just want you to take time and talk to them and work out a problem with them without rushing. Not every student has someone at home that will give them time. I have learned to not get frustrated with students, but to stop and let them talk to you and be someone that they can trust. They will never forget your giving them your undivided attention and time.

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