Catapult Learning Educator Spotlight: December 2012

Educator Spotlighteducator spotlight

Catapult Learning has long recognized that our teachers, coaches, specialized services professionals, and consultants are the foundation upon which our company stands. We literally wouldn’t be here without their tireless efforts to help struggling students succeed! We thank them for all that they do each and every day.

In May 2012, we introduced the Catapult Learning Educator Spotlight where we honored some of our most dedicated teachers and education professionals. They are our very own shining stars!

The Catapult Learning Educator Spotlight is now 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 throughout the country.

We are extremely excited to announce our honorees for December 2012!

  • Melissa Morgan- Teacher – Irving & Grand Prairie, TX
  • Melodie Ann Smith – Teacher- Oklahoma City, OK
  • Kathy Nauman- Literacy First Consultant- Estes Park, CO
  • Eleni Pappas- School Counselor- Bucks County, PA

Melissa Morgan – Teachermelissa-morgan-photo

  • Irving & Grand Prairie, TX
  • Reading and Math Teacher
  • BA English, Texas Tech University

Why did you become a teacher?

I actually intended to be an actress or a writer, but my very practical mother said “You need to get a teaching certificate with that English degree.” I found that I enjoyed sharing my love of good literature, and the satisfaction of having the skills to communicate my thoughts and dreams effectively on paper. Being a teacher means that I can enrich the life of a child almost every day.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

A wonderful variety of students who differ widely in their cultural backgrounds, ethnicities and learning styles come to my classes each year. Because I work with small groups, I can know and enjoy the personality of each student as we learn together.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

Since I have worked for this company for over 13 years (from when it was still Sylvan at School), I have many stories in mind. The increases in group test scores are easier to measure, but individual progress that is appreciated by students and their families is most personally gratifying to me. One mother, every time she saw me in the hall of a school where I worked for several years would say “There is the woman that taught my son to read! And now he is a Duke scholar!”

What have you learned from your students?

They have taught me not to underestimate their capacity to grow and learn. We often assume children are selfish, but I have found that most of them love to help one another, and this is a great tool for both teachers and students. If I have tried three ways to demonstrate a concept or skill to a student, the fourth way, explained by his classmate, may well be the one that “turns on the light!”

Melodie Ann Smith – Title I Reading Teachermelodie-smith-photo

  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • M.A. St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, B.A. University of Oklahoma

Why did you become a teacher?

Ever since I was a little girl, I always had the passion to help others make the most out of their talents and abilities.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

I love helping my students achieve their daily accomplishments of reading. This could not be possible without the continuing support of my supervisor, Meridith Banks, and school Principal Mr. Todd Gungoll as well as my Catapult colleagues and the teachers and staff of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School.

What have you learned from your students?

I have learned so much from my students: everything from how not to take this world for granted to how to love unconditionally. I love going to work each day just to see the world through their eyes. My students have helped me see things in a new way.

Kathy Nauman – Literacy First Consultantkathy-nauman-photo

  • Estes Park, CO
  • M.Ed. Reading and Early Childhood, University of Missouri

Why did you first become a Literacy First Consultant?

After retirement from a 30-year career as a teacher and an elementary principal, I knew I wanted to continue working with teachers and students. I learned about Literacy First by attending trainings in Oklahoma with my teachers. Although I had a Masters Degree in Reading, I quickly realized how much more I had to learn about the reading process!

A few years later, I heard Sherry Davis speak enthusiastically about what she did as a consultant. I asked Sherry for more information, and from that conversation came an invitation to train as a Literacy First consultant.

What do you love most about being a consultant?

To be in a classroom and see kids that are happy and totally engaged in their learning is very rewarding. But, selfishly, what I love most is when I have the opportunity to teach students using all I have learned through Literacy First. This might occur when I do demonstration lessons for teachers or work one-on-one with a student who is not being successful in learning to read.

What is your greatest Literacy First consulting success story?

I have worked as a Literacy First consultant in approximately 25 schools. Some were short-term assignments, while other schools had made a 3-year commitment to the Literacy First process. However, I feel my greatest success story is still in the making. Six years ago, I began working in a high-poverty, primarily Native American school district with three schools. Working to overcome a culture of low expectations for students has been a challenge. Success has been slow and difficult to achieve, but hard work through a truly collaborative effort by the superintendent, building administrators and classroom teachers, has now set them on the path to high achievement for all students. The superintendent and I are one in our belief that this will happen.

What have you learned from your students?

I am continually inspired by the resilience of students who have for many years not been successful in maneuvering their way in school because they are not readers. Once students know that someone is willing to take the time and make the effort to find out what they do know, and work from there to help them achieve success, they are willing to do their best.

Eleni Pappas – School Counseloreleni-pappas-photo-150x150

  • Bucks County, PA
  • Assigned to St. Andrew School in Newtown, PA
  • Arcadia University, Counseling

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

My goal is to one day have my own private practice focused on counseling and yoga for children with special needs and learning difficulties. Catapult Learning has provided me with an invaluable amount of experience working with children of varying needs. The skills that I have learned will help me to be much more effective in providing the best care for the children that I will have the pleasure to help.

What is your most recent Catapult Learning success story?

Our 8th grade classes were experiencing some peer relationship difficulty and bullying issues. I spoke with the three classes about the importance of being respectful to each other, showing care and kindness to their classmates, and the value of sharing a smile or a kind word. After speaking to the students, I was not feeling very hopeful that things were going to change. About a week later, the 8th grade peer mediators were doing an assembly for 3rd through 8th grade and asked if they could have some extra time to speak about bullying. It was amazing to hear my words and message being repeated by the peer mediators to the other children in the school. Since the assembly, I have had students of varying grades come up to me to let me know what they are doing to make a difference or how they are showing kindness and respect to their classmates.

 Thanks again to all of this month’s honorees! You can thank them too, please leave your comments for our educators below!

John Fergus

1 Comment

  1. Stuart Udell
    Stuart Udell January 4, 2013 Reply

    Congratulations to Melissa, Melodie, Kathy, and Eleni. We appreciate all of the great work that you do with kids!

    Stuart Udell
    President & CEO, Catapult Learning

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