Educator Spotlight – September 2015

Educator Spotlight

educator spotlightAnnouncing the September 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 colleagues in recognition of the positive impact they have on children and schools throughout the country. They are our very own shining stars!

  • Adeleh Carr – Teacher – Fort Bragg, NC
  • Kevin McClain – Teacher – Chicago, IL
  • Pat Morris – Literacy First Consultant – Ponca City, OK
  • Mari Wilson – Teacher – Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
  • Neils Wright – Teacher – Oroville, CA

Adeleh Carr1Adeleh Carr – Teacher

  • Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Why did you become a teacher?
I became a teacher to give and transfer my knowledge that will be beneficial to others.

What do you love most about teaching?
What I have loved most about teaching is my student’s eagerness to learn as well as to be associated with and work for fantastic people and to have awesome coworkers.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
Without a doubt, all of my students and their successes in their professional lives are my success stories.

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned enthusiasm from my students.

Kevin McClainKevin McClain – Teacher

  • Chicago, IL
  • B.A. English and Slavic Studies, Boston College; M.A. Humanities, The University of Chicago

Why did you become a teacher?
I decided to become a teacher due to an inherent selfishness. I wished to speak about the literature I loved with people who wanted to share in that knowledge. It was a way of pursuing a deeper understanding of text while distancing myself from my strong dislike for Math. However, because life is full of the cruelest ironies, I go to work everyday to teach a subject with which I struggled to students who feel similarly. These same students also view literature as tantamount to the slowest of tortures. To my surprise, I absolutely adore my job. My students have challenged me to redefine why I seek reemployment each year, because obviously my initial motivations have proven to be outdated. Now I teach due to a sincere desire to help my students on their journeys to redefine themselves as upstanding citizens: well-rounded, informed, capable of action, and most importantly, capable of measured thought and judgment. That, and they make me laugh.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
Most other teachers have commented that small class sizes are their favorite aspect of teaching for Catapult Learning. Never being one to rock the boat, I would also say that the intimacy of the small-group experience defines our collective teaching experiences. It allows for us as instructors to really know our students on a personal level, which in turn facilitates discussion (both academic and casual) and fosters bonds that break down the traditional distance of the student/teacher paradigm.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
If I ever devise a way to effectively instruct students in the ancient and terrifying art of adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers, then that will be my crowning achievement. For now, my success story is remarkably simple: girl with no confidence becomes girl with some confidence becomes girl with confidence. The capacity for students to defeat themselves mentally cannot be understated, and it remains perhaps the greatest challenge I have faced as an educator. Therefore, I am proudest of this simple progression, for it stands as proof that we both had grown wiser as teacher and student.

What have you learned from your students?
Aside from the staggering depth and complexity of modern slang, the latest quirks of anime culture, and a surprising appreciation for chili-powder-coated lollipops, I have learned something very important about the role of the teacher from my students. Namely, that high schoolers sometimes don’t need a teacher at all, but rather someone who respects their personhood enough to simply listen to them. Not to offer counsel. Not to pass judgment. Just to listen. It is hard to be a high schooler, far harder now than it was in my time. And it certainly doesn’t help that the majority of the adult world dismisses the concerns of the teenager as “frivolous” or “angsty”. So I learned very quickly, a sympathetic listener can do wonders for a frustrated student, and can be unexpectedly therapeutic for myself as well, so I am all too happy to quiet down for a change.

“Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.” –Dalai Lama

Pat MorrisPat Morris – Literacy First Consultant

  • Ponca City, Oklahona
  • University of Texas; M.S, Curriculum and Instruction, Oklahoma State University

How did you become a Literacy First consultant?
Years ago, Linda Powers, John Scroggins, and I were working together in a school district in Oklahoma and agreed to have lunch with someone by the name of Bill Blokker. He told us about starting a state initiative in Oklahoma to train teachers in best practices for reading instruction. At that time, Bill was looking for trainers in the state and we all agreed to give it a try. That was 17 years ago, and I have been working with Literacy First in some capacity ever since.

What do you love most about being a consultant for Literacy First?
I love coaching the new teachers in the schools. I am always amazed at their creativity and their ability to use technology in the classroom to make learning fun. I am encouraged by their eagerness to try new ways in which to better help young students develop a love for reading.

What is your greatest Literacy First consulting success story?
At one school the principal shared with me a concern about a teacher who was not having success in her classroom. It was her second year of teaching and she felt as though she had tried everything to get control of her students with little success. She was at the point of giving up teaching as a profession. I spent quite a bit of time with her that year working on differentiating instruction so that students were working on their own level. We also developed behavior interventions for two of her most challenging students. Today she is in her tenth year of teaching and continues to communicate with me. She has become a very consciously competent teacher.

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned the importance of passing on a sense of urgency to teachers and students so they feel the responsibility of taking ownership for their own teaching and learning.

Mari WilsonMari Wilson – Teacher

  • JBLM, Washington
  • B.A., Japanese Literature, Kanto Gakuin University (Yokohama, Japan);  B.A., Linguistics, University of Michigan

Why did you become a teacher?
I like to share the beauty of the Japanese language with everyone who is interested in learning. I am a literature lover and have been writing novels and screenplays since I was a teenager. I find delicacy and complexity in language; yet, it is worthwhile to learn even if it takes all life long to master the language. I like to share my experience with students and help them better understand the world and sophistication of the Japanese language.

What do you love most about teaching?
I have have adequate time for preparation and research. I teach the language, but I am also a learner. I constantly keep up my language skills for the next available class.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
Every class that I have taught has its own success story. Every class is different, and I set a different goal for each. When my students and I accomplish the goal, I am always satisfied and filled with happiness.

What have you learned from your students?
My greatest language teachers are my students!  I learn tremendously about my native language from the questions that my students ask me during the class. Their perception always amazes me and shows me the depth of language. I appreciate that they give me an opportunity to teach.

Neils Wright1Neils Wright – Teacher

  • Oroville, California
  • Liberal Studies and Special Education, California State University at Chico

Why did you become a teacher?
I became a teacher to inspire students and to help students who would otherwise be unsuccessful in school.

What do you love most about teaching for SESI?
I love the versatility and that I have been given opportunities to be creative. I love that I have been allowed to teach the Nurtured Heart Approach to teachers and staff.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
My greatest teaching success story happened at the end of the 2014-15 school year. At that time, instructional aide Bob Shaw and I orchestrated the transition of students from their previous teacher and classroom to a new teacher, new classroom, and new schedule.

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned that we all make mistakes and that this is the only moment we have. Students need to be able to move onto the next moment of success.

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