Educator Spotlight – May 2015

Educator Spotlight

educator spotlightAnnouncing the May 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!

  • Tiffany Adams – Teacher – Hollywood, FL
  • Roxane Merlucci – Teacher – Plantation, FL
  • Toni Wysocki – Teacher – Plantation, FL
  • Erica Cabello – Teacher – Chicago, IL
  • Stephanie Hoskin – Literacy First Consultant- Vinita, OK
  • Darlene Tully – Teacher – Chicago, IL

Tiffany Adams – Teacher

Broward Nativity team1

(above): The Nativity Catholic School Title I Team of  Roxane Merlucci, Tiffany Adams, and Toni Wysocki.

  • Hollywood, Florida
  • Elementary Education

Why did you become a teacher?
I have a passion for teaching children. I love to see their faces light up when they learn something new.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
I enjoy teaching for Catapult Learning because of the flexible schedules and small-group attention that students receive.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
Every time a student shows me their math test with an “A,” it is a success story.

What have you learned from your students?
I learn something new from my students every day.


Roxane Merlucci – Teacher

  • Plantation, Florida
  • Elementary Education/Reading, Brooklyn College

Why did you become a teacher?
I believe that teaching is my destiny. I chose to become a reading teacher because I was a poor reader in elementary school. My mind is always at work, trying to find the best way to teach each group of students to read. I know that my students can learn and it’s up to me to create lessons for students to make connections to all subject areas.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
As we work in small groups for Catapult Learning, we get to know the needs of our students very well. In this safe and supportive environment, skills can be addressed more personally. My students experience more success and positive feedback along their way to becoming lifelong learners.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
This is my first year with Catapult Learning and it’s been a long time since I’ve worked with Kindergarten students. This year of teaching has been a real eye opener for me. Some of the students started out not recognizing all the letters of the alphabet and not knowing many of the sounds. Most of them are now reading books. This has been my greatest—and more importantly, my students’—accomplishment this year

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned that students love to attend the Title 1 group because the successes they experience make them feel soooo good. They have taught me to “take it slow” and draw on my inner patience. My students continue to impress me with their perseverance, kindness, and eagerness to practice new skills.


Toni Wysocki – Teacher

  • Plantation, Florida
  • Middle and High School Mathematics

Why did you become a teacher?
It’s my natural gift and a profession I enjoy. I love being around children and creating a positive environment for learning math.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
I like the small-group situations where I can focus on building the math skills base of my individual students.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
My greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story is a disabled kindergarten student who started the school year deficient of basic math skills. At the end of the year, she scored the highest in her class on her post-diagnostic test.

What have you learned from your students?
My students have taught me that an important part of the learning process is enjoying the journey together, day by day.

Erica CabelloErica Cabello – Teacher

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Elementary Education/Reading

Why did you become a teacher?
I became a teacher because I wanted to share my love of life and education with others. I wanted to inspire and give hope to young people. I have since accepted the task of teaching and reaching our future.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
What I love most about teaching for Catapult Learning is the supportive supervisory staff. They motivate and encourage by being responsive and providing timely feedback.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
One of my favorite success stories is when the classroom teacher of my 8th graders mentioned to me that she could tell that her 8th graders were feeling more confident in the classroom, because during their classroom discussions the students that are usually not willing to speak up or provide any insight were raising their hands and sharing their ideas and thoughts on the topic. That made me feel proud because it shows that students need more than just academic support; they need to feel motivated, they need to have high expectations set for them, and they need someone to believe they can be successful.

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned that academics and student success not only includes practice and direct instruction but also involves the whole social well-being of the student. Many of the struggling students I meet with lack confidence and have a poor outlook on education. They have been put into a category that is always labeled low-performing or below grade level and so that is all that is expected of them. These students require motivation, encouragement, and high expectations. I have learned that students just need to be believed in.

Stephanie A  Hoskin 5 28 15Stephanie A. Hoskin – Literacy First Consultant

  • Vinita, Kansas
  • B.S., Elementary Education; M.S. Ed., School Administration; Doctoral Candidate 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 Literacy First through professional development training years ago when I was a Kindergarten teacher. I utilized the assessments, instructional model, and strategies for many years as a classroom 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 of a new product line. I can make a school site visit to work with a group of teachers on analyzing data and fine-tuning their instructional approach or I can be working with my smart and witty 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 constantly sharpens my skills, stretches my thinking, and satisfies 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 in 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, 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 her peers. This story illustrates for me 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 and Catapult Learning.

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 accomplishing big things begins with paying attention to the simplest of things:

Writing begins with a quote.
Loving to read begins with a word.
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.
A lesson begins by enjoying the company of your students.
Teaching begins with a heart for humanity.

Darlene TullyDarlene Tully – Teacher

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • M.Ed., Special Education, Northern Illinois University

Why did you become a teacher?
One of my favorite writers of all time, Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, says, “Hope is the ability to believe that good can happen out of anything.”  I’m not sure why I became a teacher—it was probably the thing to do some thirty years ago—but this belief is certainly the reason that I have remained in education.  If I truly believe that all children can learn, then I must continue to greet each new day believing that good things will happen in our Title I Room today!  I teach because there is always the hope that I can help to bring about something good each day for my students.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
The best part of teaching for NESI/Catapult Learning is that it allows me to be part of the team that brings Title I Services to our non-public school students. I think it is so important to bring much-needed individualized learning opportunities to all struggling students in our city.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
I think our success is not measured by exemplar successes or by huge gains shown on a standardized test, but rather in the small successes that happen each day. I have watched one of my Kindergarten classes grow from a group of rather self-centered little individuals who could not peacefully play a simple board game together to a very fun group of inquisitive minds who can now wait for a turn (most of the time!), not shout out answers, listen to one another, congratulate each other upon getting something right, and ask to play again!  A true success story that highlights Executive Function at the Kindergarten level—amazing!

What have you learned from your students?
Learning from my students and their families has always been a daily occurrence. I have learned that patience is truly a virtue and that everyone does not do things my way—hard to believe, right? I have learned that not all families look the same or share the same daily routines, priorities and traditions.  I have learned that each of my students has a personality to get to know and a story to tell, if we choose to listen to them and connect. My students have taught me that keeping a sense of humor is just as important as the latest curriculum design, learning strategy, or piece of technology.


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