Educator Spotlight – January 2015

Educator Spotlight

educator spotlightAnnouncing the January 2015 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!

  • Danielle Albrecht – Teacher – Grosse Point Park, MI
  • Jennifer Bares – Teacher – Chicago, IL
  • Monica Furtado – Teacher – Pawtucket, RI
  • Lisa Harper – Literacy First Consultant – Big Cabin, OK
  • Ashley Strader – Academic Counselor – Chicago, IL

Danielle Albrecht1Danielle Albrecht – Teacher

  • Grosse Point Park, Michigan
  • B.S. Elementary Education/Integrative Creative Arts, Western Michigan University; M.Ed. Early Childhood, Wayne State University

Why did you become a teacher?

I became a teacher to develop and foster learning with young children. I enjoy working with students to help create successful learning opportunities to further develop their self-esteem.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

I absolutely love working with small groups of children. Teaching struggling students in a small-group setting allows me time to make them feel special and successful. I love working with my staff, families, and principal to meet the needs of my students.

What is your greatest teaching success story?

I can give you the names of past and present students! They are my success stories! I believe I have impacted these students in some way over the years as a Catapult Learning teacher. I recently saw a former student—he is in high school now—and he told me he is now on the Honor Roll. I am very proud of his success. Each week when my students pass vocabulary tests, I find success! I believe the little accomplishments my students make add up and make me feel successful.

What have you learned from your students?

I learn something from my students every day. They teach me kindness, perseverance, loyalty, and patience. My students are the smartest people I know! When I truly sit back and watch and listen to them, they fill me with hope and joy. I am blessed and honored to work at St. Clare of Montefalco School.

Jennifer BaresJennifer Bares – Teacher

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • B.S. Elementary Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Why did you become a teacher?

Twenty-three years ago, I vividly remember sitting in my second-grade classroom dreaming about becoming a teacher so that I could someday share my love of learning and the positive impact that my former teachers had on me. I am fortunate to have had that dream become a reality while teaching in diverse classrooms across the country for the past eight years. I cannot think of a career that is more rewarding or important to society than teaching.  Having the chance to inspire, motivate, and challenge young minds is an opportunity I would not trade for anything.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

Helping students of all ages and abilities overcome obstacles to be successful in their learning is just one of the many things I enjoy about teaching for Catapult Learning. Another reason I enjoy being a Catapult Learning teacher is due to the highly talented, dedicated, and supportive Catapult supervisory staff.

What is your greatest teaching success story?

In my classroom, even the smallest success stories are a reason to celebrate. Seeing the enormous smile on the young face of a beginning reader as they successfully read an entire book, or the confidence beaming from a young math student as they explain their solution to a challenging math problem are memories that I will never forget. One of the greatest and most rewarding moments, however, was simply hearing, “Ms. Bares, thank you for making learning fun.”

What have you learned from your students?

Each and every day I learn something new from my students. One of the most important things I have learned is to believe in your students and acknowledge the worth and potential of every learner.

Monica FurtadoMonica Furtado – Teacher

  • Pawtucket, Rhode Island
  • B.S. Elementary Education, Roger Williams University

Why did you become a teacher?

I became a teacher because I have always enjoyed working with children. I began as a volunteer in high school at a daycare center and quickly got a job in the summer program working with school-age children. I remember working closely with the classroom teacher to develop lessons and fun activities. I knew right away I had found my niche!

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

The best part of my job is working with my students! I enjoy being able to see their growth from September to June, and it is very rewarding to see each child reach their potential after working with them for a whole year. I also enjoy working with my Catapult colleagues. The support from my co-workers helps contribute to a successful year!

What is your greatest teaching success story?

Over the years there have been many, one that stands out is the time I worked with a fifth-grade student who was really struggling in math. When she was able to apply all that she had learned and score a passing grade on her final chapter assessment, I could see her confidence level soar! This particular student had always been shy and reluctant to share even when she was certain she knew the answer. Her hard work paid off but most importantly she gained a renewed sense of self that helps her continue to succeed and face her challenges head on!

What have you learned from your students?

The students that I work with often struggle in reading and math. Just to see how committed and determined they are as they persevere through the most difficult of tasks really brings a smile to my face! The true reward is to see my students enjoy the process of learning just as much as the outcome! The race to the finish line is that much sweeter when we are able to share and reflect on all their hard work and celebrate their accomplishments!

Lisa Harper Lisa Harper – Literacy First Consultant

  • Big Cabin, Oklahoma
  • B.S. Early Childhood Education, M.S. Education (Reading Specialist), Northeastern State University

How did you become a Literacy First consultant? 

After 11 years in the classroom, I obtained my Master’s Degree and accepted a job as the reading specialist at my school. In the course of that job, I took three teachers to a Literacy First training led by Gayla Gower. As I spent those five days with Gayla, I realized that Literacy First had successfully condensed much of what I had learned as a reading specialist into five days and made it relevant and applicable to the classroom. The Literacy First training was different than anything I had attended previously; it provided each teacher with the skills and strategies needed to be a better teacher, not just the competence to use a published pre-written curriculum. I knew from that day that I wanted to do what Gayla was doing. With some mentoring from another consultant, Stephanie Hoskin, I decided to apply for the Literacy First team and was accepted. I spent the next three years working as a part-time Literacy First consultant while continuing my job as a public school reading specialist. I am now working full time as a consultant for Catapult Learning and loving every minute of it!

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

I love the variety in my job. I get to do some training and professional development, some coaching and mentoring, some modeling, and lots of planning and reading. Also, I think everyone in the field of education craves that feeling of efficacy. My work with Literacy First gives me the feeling that I am really making a difference in the lives of many students and teachers.

What is your greatest Literacy First consulting success story? 

I feel my greatest success is leading teachers to realize that they don’t need a teacher manual or published curriculum to make them a good teacher. They can reach and teach kids using what they know about their kids combined with effective teaching strategies and thoughtful use of data. I love to see the passion reignited as teachers begin to really teach their kids effectively and see the growth indicated by all kinds of data.

What have you learned from your experience as a consultant? 

There are two things that really stand out in my mind. One is that to be a great leader, you must be a servant. Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Through this job, I have experienced how important it is to build relationships with everyone I work with. Once that relationship is established, it becomes a two-way transaction; I learn from them as much as they learn from me. Two is that it is critical to maintain a group of peers and friends who share your drive to learn and improve yourself and who share your belief that all human beings can learn.

Ashley Strader1Ashley Strader – Academic Counselor

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • B.S. Social Science/Secondary Education, Benedictine University; M.S. School Counseling, Roosevelt University

How long have you been with Catapult Learning?

This is my second year with Catapult Learning

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

I am currently working at five different schools over four days. I am at one high school and four elementary schools. Josephinum Academy is an all-girls private high school. I am there a ½-day each week to work with a couple of students. My main focus is to build their study skills, organizational skills, and help them develop and meet their post-secondary goals. I also provide services for Humboldt Community Christian School, Pui Tak Christian School, St. Viator, and St. Margaret Mary, where I work with students from Kindergarten to eighth grade on a variety of skills to enhance academic success. The most common areas are study skills, organization, listening skills, following directions, and distractibility.

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

It is important for me to have a career that is personally fulfilling and makes a difference in people’s lives. I have always had a passion for education and helping others. As a counselor with Catapult Learning, I have the opportunity to work one-on-one with students and help each of them implement and achieve their personal and academic goals. This position allows me to do what I love, while still maintaining a good work/life balance.

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

My greatest success story would also be one of my most recent. I have been working with a young girl at Josephinum Academy for two years now. During that time she has overcome many obstacles that were impeding her academically. When I first met with her last year, she was often absent from school and/or tardy. She was struggling to complete her work on time and her grades were suffering. By the end of the 2013-2014 school year, she was regularly coming to school on time, turning in all her work, and had greatly improved her grades. This year we have worked at length on her goals for her senior year and post graduation. She is working hard to balance her schoolwork, home life, and participate in her final year of soccer. She is on track to graduate and will be enrolling in community college next fall.  We are currently working on a long-term plan for her to enroll and graduate from law school as well.


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