Educator Spotlight – December 2015

Educator Spotlight

educator spotlightAnnouncing the December 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!

  • Emily Beauchamp – Teacher – LaPlace and Reserve, LA
  • Craig Bomberger – Teacher – Harrisburg, PA
  • Nancy Cohen – Counselor – Scottsdale, AZ
  • Deirdre Germain – Teacher – Bridgeport, CT
  • Beverly Goering – Teacher – Laurel, MD
  • Terrie Jones – Teacher – Utica, OH
  • Chong Olortegui – Teacher – Ft. Bragg, NC
  • Stephanie Poynor – Teacher – Tampa, FL
  • Jameelah Rogers – Teacher – Jacksonville, FL

Emily Beauchamp Title IEmily Beauchamp – Teacher

“Emily’s love of children, teaching, and wanting to learn are evident in her planning of lessons, the delivery of those lessons, and so significantly in her relationship with her students.”  —Edmond Adams, Jr., Instructional Specialist and Title I Program Supervisor, Catapult Learning

  • LaPlace and Reserve, Louisiana
  • Elementary Education, certification in Kindergarten

Why did you become a teacher?
I became a teacher because I love children. I especially enjoy helping them through their struggles in school. Making school easy and fun for children is the greatest reward.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
Through teaching for Catapult Learning, I can actually make school easier for many of the children who pass through the program. Making concepts simpler, having time to practice skills, and directing individualized attention to the children is its own reward.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
There is no particular success story. Working as a team player, with the classroom teachers, helps us to focus on the needs of the students, without singling out any particular problem or child. Defusing the problem and working hard, while developing a positive approach to challenges, gives us the results we strive to achieve for each child. The greatest successes are the first grader who struggles with reading, and in third grade needs no more help; and the fifth grader who is finally dividing two and three-digit numbers all by himself. Very simple steps bring large benefits.

What have you learned from your students?
The students have given me the purpose of my mission as a teacher. They come to me with various learning struggles, “life” struggles, problems with school, and other issues. However, they are troopers. It is most rewarding to see how the students do not give up. Their perseverance and fortitude leads them to success. This is what I have learned from our students.

Craig BombergerCraig Bomberger – Teacher

“Mr. Bomberger goes out of his way to find creative ways to engage our students, showcase their talents, and brighten our school.”  —Jamie Gill, Program Director, Capital Academy

  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Art Education, Mansfield University

Why did you become a teacher?
I became a teacher because I loved the creative process and problem-solving skills that were able to be accomplished hands-on in the art classroom like few other classroom settings. I had a good art teacher in high school who entered my artwork into competitions and was very encouraging; this was a complete contrast to my middle school art teacher, who would give me a 75% with no explanation of said grade. I wanted to be like my high school teacher, giving of my time and talents to encourage and foster creative growth while providing feedback for areas of improvement to all students.

What do you love most about teaching for Capital Academy?
I love, above all other things, the people with whom I work. In my previous career, I never had the opportunity to work with people who come close to the high-quality staff with which I currently work. Every person puts forth their best everyday in an overall effort to improve the lives of the children we serve. In the past there may have been one or two, or small groupings of individuals, but never an entire staff of caring and generous people. Additionally, I love the children who come from a variety of situations and backgrounds, many of whom who have anxiety and hatred toward the notion of school. I love to watch them grow during their time at Capital Academy and I’m so fortunate to be able to call them “my kids.”

What is your greatest teaching success story?
Perhaps my greatest teaching success story is that I was able to have students try their best on art projects. Many of the students would refuse to even try on any assignment because they had been told, or developed the idea on their own, that they’re not any good at art. It took a long time to break down the stigma that they could do well, they could achieve, and they could be successful at art. When they realized that they were being asked to do only one step of a much bigger project each day, instead of being overwhelmed with the project as a whole, they were able to focus their efforts and energy on that particular step. As they were successful with each step along the way, their confidence grew and t eventually became successful on the project as a whole.

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned from my students to be more observant in all situations, to be a better listener, and to make more time for one-on-one interactions. The first two go hand-in-hand; sometimes it’s as much about what is being said as what is not being said. I’ve learned that sometimes just watching to see who’s talking and who’s not, in conjunction with one another can yield more than the conversation itself. My students have helped me to develop my skills as a listener as they often share information and personal struggles and triumphs with me. Lastly the one-on-one time may be the most valuable thing I’ve learned from my students as I’ve been able to witness how beneficial it is to them. I’ve been able to apply that to my own life as I very much value the one-on-one time I have with family, friends, and loved ones.

Nancy CohenANancy Cohen – School Counselor

“Ms. Cohen’s passion is immeasurable as it extends not only into the classrooms with all students in grades 1−12 but reaches our entire staff and sustains our family community as well.”  —Debra Watland, Director, Sierra Academy of Scottsdale

  • Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Special Education w/ a Cross-Endorsement in Elementary Education, University of Saint Joseph

Why did you become a counselor?
When I realized that a MSW was flexible and could take me in so many different directions, I knew that counseling was for me. It provided the vehicle for me to help others.

What do you love most about counseling at Sierra Academy?
I love that every day is different. I cannot always anticipate some of the challenges the students will have, and therefore, the support that they will need.

What is your greatest counseling success story?
Four years ago, when I began working at Sierra Academy, a new student was beginning as well. When it was 110 in August, she would come to school wearing a pink sweatshirt with the hood pulled down over her face. With much support, not only by me but also from the entire staff, she graduated in December 2015 wearing a gap and gown, and no sweatshirt. She graduated from Sierra Academy ready to begin a new journey in her life.     

What have you learned from your students?
There is not enough space allotted for this question! As each and every day is different, I have learned to adopt a fluid style—to be flexible whether it be to problem solve with a student, deal with a crisis, or to lend a hand in the classroom. Situations change from moment to moment.

Deirdre GermainDeirdre Germain – Teacher

“Deirdre’s ELL expertise is in demand in all three of our schools, where a large number of our students come from homes where English is spoken little if at all. Her expertise is evident each year when we see students who’ve arrived at school with little or no fluency ending the year chatting and telling jokes in English with their friends.”  —Kathy Ciuci, Supervisor/Professional Development Manager, New England Region, Catapult Learning

  • Bridgeport, Connecticut
  • Education, Northeastern University

Why did you become a teacher?
To be able to provide the knowledge I was given to others in a positive, meaningful way hoping to make a difference in the next generation to become lifelong learners.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
I love the intimacy of the small group instruction. Every student has the opportunity to participate and be involved in class discussions. The student’s willingness to learn and comfort level among the student’s small group size is phenomenal. The schools that I work in are fantastic and I have incredible coworkers at Catapult.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
I have a success story for all of my students who gain the confidence with the material and achieve their goals. Every one of those students is a huge success and I am proud of all of them.

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned to be flexible and to be a great listener. Sometimes my students surprise me with their content knowledge. When a student provides such knowledge it creates opportunity for thinking, discussion, and analysis usually by the whole group.

Beverly GoeringBeverly Goering – Teacher

“Throughout her 16 years with High Road Academy, Mrs. Goering has served as associate director, transition coordinator, and is currently the special education teacher in the eleventh-grade classroom. In addition to her excellent classroom management skills and instructional strategies, Mrs. Goering consistently shows her dedication to the school and all students. Her tireless efforts over the years have proven to be a tremendous asset to High Road Academy’s culture and community.”  —Jordan Pugh, Director, High Road Academy

  • Laurel, Maryland
  • B.S. Secondary Education/History, Towson University; Special Education K−Adult, Johns Hopkins University

Why did you become a teacher?
I am the oldest of five girls. I have been a teacher my whole life. I have always loved learning, and I discovered early in life that the best way for me to learn was to teach others. As a teen, I was active in 4-H and enjoyed public speaking and giving demonstrations on a multitude of topics. As a member of the Future Teachers of America in high school, we started a program called VITAL (Volunteers in Teaching and Learning). I have been blessed with many life experiences, all of which have involved teaching others. One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou: “When you get, give. When you learn, teach.”

What do you love most about teaching for High Road Academy?
I love that since the first day I walked into High Road Academy, in July of 1999, this has never been a job. I have had many professions throughout my life, but this is my passion! I attribute this feeling to the dedicated leadership of Dr. Ellen Gaske. As a team, we are encouraged to keep each student’s needs our priority. Working for Catapult Learning/NESI/SESI, I have the latest and greatest materials and trainings at my fingertips. This allows me to adjust and re-adjust a student’s program to fit his or her individual needs. Over the years, I have seen hundreds of academically discouraged students prosper and thrive in our consistent and caring learning environment.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
The creation of our School Yard Habitat is my greatest teaching success story. This project has developed collaboration skills, teamwork, and respect in everyone involved. Like many great lessons, it was created out of necessity and dreams. While teaching Foundations of Technology during a heavy rain storm, a student, gazing out of the window noticed how quickly our backyard was filling with water. We began to ask why: Could it be clogged gutters? Or poor run-off? If so, what could we do? The answer: Let’s build a pond!

Our English class wrote and submitted a proposal to build a pond in the backyard. Once the approval was granted, we measured the area and with the help of our geometry class created what we hoped would be our outdoor classroom. After brainstorming in each class, the students thought it should have a fish pond with a fountain, fruit and vegetable gardens, flowering plants and herbs, and feeders for the birds. In order to work in the habitat, students must have all class work complete and up to date. Soon, the whole school took part in this exciting project. We dug and dug. Using wooden pallets, we created planters for vegetables, herbs and wild flowers. My parents, who are still avid gardeners at 86 years old, donated many of the initial plants used in the habitat. Most of the students had never worked in a garden and several earned their first blisters! It was wonderful to see how eager they were to work. It was hot, hard work, but they loved it. Of course, watering the garden was the most sought after job.

I believe that digging in the dirt is good for the soul. Once aggressive and impulsive students, while eager to carry rocks, were calm and caring when it came time to transplant the tiny vegetables plants. Weeding the garden became the favorite activity of a student suffering with skin picking. One student was asked to document our progress with photos; she is now studying photography in college. In the Habitat, our greatest weaknesses became our greatest strengths. In the years since this project began, students continue to find new things to enhance our Habitat. It now has a greenhouse, a fence, an arbor, a rock garden, a weather station and various art projects add a decorative touch. It is wonderful place to sit and listen to the birds, to eat lunch, to hold an outdoor class or to just lay on the ground and watch the clouds. It is truly our Living Classroom.

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned patience and perseverance from my students. Many of them read several years below grade level while seeking a high school diploma. They continue to try new programs and strategies in hopes of reaching their goals. I am always encouraged by their teachable spirits.

Terrie JonesTerrie Jones – Teacher

“Terrie has worked part time for Catapult Learning at Blessed Sacrament School in Newark, Ohio, for the past eight years. Mrs. Packham, the school principal, is very impressed with all that Terrie does to help the students, staff, and parents at Blessed Sacrament. She feels Terrie is an essential part of her staff who goes above and beyond her job responsibilities.”  —Sue Ann Marie Korb,  Ohio Instructional Supervisor, Catapult Learning

  • Utica, Ohio
  • Elementary Education, Grades K−8

Why did you become a teacher?
I love teaching and I love children.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
The thing I love most about teaching for Catapult Learning is the kindness and caring of those I work with. I know my co-workers want me to succeed and be the best teacher I can be.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
I think my greatest teaching success story is just being with the students each day and seeing them enjoy learning and understanding concepts they had struggled with, watching them grow and learn and develop as individuals and learners.

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned much more from my students than I have taught them. I have learned, and continue to learn, to be patient, kind, understanding, and compassionate. No one wants to fail, but sometimes we just lose our way. I have learned we do not fit very well in “boxes” and each one of us is special and should be treated that way.

Chong Olortegui – Teacher

“Chong excels by displaying a high degree of originality and creativity in her lesson plan development and the activities her students do to support their language enhancement. She is always professional and approachable to her students and is held in high regard by her students, staff, and the greater language community.  —Wendy Davis, Regional Director, Milburn Academy

  • Ft. Bragg, North Carolina
  • English Language and Literature with Teacher Certificate (South Korea) and Computer Science (USA)                                            

Why did you become a teacher?
Being a teacher was one of my life-long dreams. I was teaching in South Korea. With marriage I came to the U. S and started teaching Korean Language for the American soldiers. I love teaching, I love the academic environment, and I love my students. When I see progress and improvement in my students through my teaching, I feel great joy and accomplishment.

What do you love most about teaching?
I am teaching Korean Language and Culture for the American soldiers. Many of soldier students already have been to South Korea, are stationed currently, or will go there in the future after class sessions. Through my language classes, I reinforce my students’ learning and understanding about the situation of the two—South and North—Koreas in every aspect including linguistic, cultural, and social factors. I always keep in mind that I am a teacher as well as a civilian diplomat who helps South Korea and USA through my language teaching in the military environment.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
My students have to take a military language proficiency test after classes. The test is hard. I have many successful and memorable stories through my teaching career, but I have one particular soldier student who always makes me smile whenever I think of him. This soldier student took Korean Language training courses elsewhere in the U.S. and even in South Korea, but he never passed the test. He then became my student. After studying hard under my teaching and help, he took the test and passed it for the first time. He made a special visit to let me know about this great news. With the military salute—that was special—he said to me, “Teacher, the mission is accomplished with success.  Thank you!” It was one of the most joyful and happiest moments in my teaching years. I was a proud teacher.

What have you learned from your students?
I am teaching Korean Language and Culture to the American soldiers. The Korean language is hard to learn, and I have learned how to be patient with my students because they study a difficult foreign language. When my students know that I am a patient and understanding teacher, they are more likely to discuss their special needs and ways to improve their learning levels. I also learned to be passionate. When my students see my passion for teaching, they eventually become more energetic, are more interest in learning, and produce more positive results. Most importantly, I learned that learning is a never-ending process in life despite of all different ages and backgrounds of my soldier students. That makes me keep studying. And that makes me keep looking for better ways and methods to deliver my classes. Thus, when my students are stationed in South Korea as American soldiers, they can spread out more positive impression on Korean people through their respectful behaviors and knowledge with what they studied and learned about.


Stephanie PoynorStephanie Poynor – Teacher

“Stephanie is a hard working and dedicated teacher. Her passion and commitment are evident and show through her engaging and well thought out lessons.  Stephanie works hard to engage her students in creative ways.”  —Amber Myers, Area Manager, Catapult Learning

  • Tampa, Florida
  • MAT with middle grade concentration, University of Louisville

Why did you become a teacher?
As a high school dropout, I learned the hard way how important education is to become successful in life. After receiving my GED in 1995, my husband suggested that I become a teacher. I realized he might be right. I love teaching and learning how to help others become successful, not only in the classroom but in life.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
I love my supervisor. I am sure that sounds kind of corny, but it is true. She has a great deal of patience with me. The first time she came to observe me for a shared reading lesson with kindergarten students (remember, I am a middle school teacher), I did it all wrong. She shook her head and smiled; then she re-taught me how to do it correctly. My supervisor treats her staff the way teachers are expected to teach their students. It is such a delightful experience to work with someone with those philosophies. 

What is your greatest teaching success story?
There is a huge breadth of knowledge required for my position. My greatest fear when I started was teaching Math. Now, it is my greatest joy. To see the look on my students’ faces when they get a math concept is priceless. That little sparkle in their eyes is so wonderful. Even better when we return to the same point in the curriculum the following year to revisit a concept and they remember some silly thing I told them to remember how to do a problem. Math is such a joy.

What have you learned from your students?
I have learned that students remember the silly things we do/say to help them remember. They quote us when we aren’t looking. My students genuinely love to learn even though for most of them it is difficult. Hard workers become successful in life. I am excited to see the adults they become.

Jameelah RogersJameelah Rogers – Teacher

“Mrs. Rogers’ combination of dedication and innovation, as well as an overall commitment to challenging he students to excel, is what sets her apart and identifies her as the epitome of a professional educator who has mastered the Art of Teaching. Mrs. Rogers’ commitment to her students also extends to her colleagues. She is a true team player— she shares her knowledge and resources freely.”  —April Roberson, Program Supervisor, Catapult Learning

  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • B.A. Business; M.Ed. Curriculum & Instruction

Why did you become a teacher?
As a child, I loved to play “school” with my younger cousins and I was always the teacher! I have always wanted to be a part of changing the lives of others. Teaching has allowed me to do so.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?
I love the small group learning environment. It allows me to address the student’s individual deficiencies. Also, a small group environment allows the students to feel comfortable with asking and answering any questions they may have.

What is your greatest teaching success story?
My greatest success story would be seeing each student make learning gains to their best ability. Not only does it make me proud but it places on smile on the student’s face as well.

What have you learned from your students?
All students, regardless of their learning ability, have the potential to learn!


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