Educator Spotlight: September 2013

Educator Spotlighteducator spotlight

Announcing the September 2013 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!

  • Courtney Kohn – Teacher – Milwaukee, WI
  • Ellen McGahey – Teacher – Detroit, MI
  • RoseMary Kuznicki – School Counselor – Westmoreland County, Pa.
  • Janet Bliss Mello – Literacy First Consultant – Dallas, TX

Courtney Kohn – TeacherCourtney Kohn photo

  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Concordia University Wisconsin, Secondary Education & Mathematics

Why did you become a teacher?

I became a teacher because it was the most logical profession for me to enter.  When I was a child, I absolutely loved school.  Math was my favorite subject.  As a matter of fact, when I came home from school, I’d set up my own classroom so that I could be the teacher and “play school” myself.  I truly believe that I had the smartest stuffed animals on the block!  Now I realize that, it was my desire to help students learn that made me want to become a teacher.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

What I love most about teaching for Catapult Learning is working with small groups of students to help them improve their math skills and be successful.

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

My greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story occurred when a high school math student rushed into my classroom not because the bell was about to ring, but because she was excited and couldn’t wait to tell me that she aced the test on solving systems of equations.  Her hard work and dedication in my class transferred to success in her regular math class.  I can still picture the beaming smile on her face to this day!

What have you learned from your students?

My students have shown me that if you have the desire and you work really hard, you can overcome any obstacle.

Ellen McGahey – TeacherEllen McGahey photo

  • Detroit, MI
  • Wayne State University: BS in Education with a triple minor (Math, Social Science & Education)
    Grand Canyon University: Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction with a specialization in Reading

Why did you become a teacher?

I had several role models in my life that made significant impacts on me and they helped shape who I am today.  I found that teaching gave me the opportunity to do the same for others. Luckily, I found out early in my career that education is not a one way street and my students have played a role in my continued growth as an individual. That is one of the best things about my career. I am aware of the continued growth of my students as well as my own growth.

What do you love most about teaching for Catapult Learning?

My career with Catapult has allowed me to teach in a variety of different circumstances.  Teaching in this manner has challenged me as an educator, which is always a good thing!

What is your greatest Catapult Learning teaching success story?

I honestly don’t know if there is one that sticks out.  I see success in each and every student that feels more comfortable solving a story problem, or can find the main idea of a passage, or the kindergartner that FINALLY learned their ABCs.  Each student accomplishment means I made an impact. They are all success stories!

What have you learned from your students?

My students have taught me so many things. I have learned that just because I taught them something in class, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve learned it. I have learned that there are so many things in-and-out of the classroom that impact student achievement; some we can control and others we can’t. I have learned that sometimes the lesson plan doesn’t work, and that’s okay. Most importantly, I have learned that if we didn’t make mistakes, we would never truly learn anything.

Rose Mary Kuznicki – School CounselorRose Mary Kuznicki photo

  • Westmoreland County, Pa.
  • Duquesne University, Education

How long have you been with Catapult Learning?

On October 15, 1978 I started working for Education & Training Consultant.  A company that later became Catapult Learning.

To which Schools are you assigned and what service do you provide there?

This school year, I have returned to Mother of Sorrows, Holy Trinity, and a colleague and I exchanged one school. My new addition is Cardinal Maida Academy.  In all my schools I partner with the classroom teacher to implement a program suitable to their students’ stage of developmental growth.  I also work with individuals with specific needs and small groups dealing with social skills.

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

My professional goals come from the need that I had as a young teen growing up in a foreign land.  As a young adult, I saw the need for a school counselor.  Because of events in children’s lives, many grow up feeling confused, lost, and lonely. As a counselor, I can be the tool to help a child with the many changes in their young life. I try to help them see that they can participate in the changes by communicating their needs, and expressing their emotions respectfully.  When a child learns that he has choices, attitude being one of them, and that problems are temporary, he feels hope and empowered.  When I see or hear how my students handle a home or school situation in a successful way, I celebrate their success and I also feel successful.

What is your most recent Catapult Learning success story?

My most recent CL success story is a second grade girl who often seemed anxious, she cried at school and at neighborhood activities.  By the end of May, she had become a courageous young lady.  In spite of the fact, her best friend was moving to Atlanta at the end of the school year.  She accepted the change, and had solutions on how to handle the situation.  I’m happy to say that there’ has been no tears’ and that she is working at building new friendships.  That puts a smile on my face!

Janet Bliss Mello – Literacy First ConsultantJanet Bliss Mello photo

  • Dallas, TX
  • University of Texas – Austin: BS in Education
    University of North Texas: MA in Reading
    Texas Woman’s University: GT and Mid-Management

How did you become a Literacy First consultant?

In 2000, I had several friends that were working with Literacy First.  I was going to retire and they encouraged me to become a consultant.  What I realized is that the Literacy First process put everything into place that I believed about quality professional development: on-going; job-embedded; aligned with leadership; working in the classroom with students.  I wanted to step into a “redirected” career where the beliefs that I had were modeled.

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

There are many things that I love about being a consultant for Literacy First, however I truly love the process.  Within three years teachers struggle with new learning and then begin to see the progression of what students really do know and how they can be successful.  The amazing support of high quality consultants create a family of learners; that is right up there with what I love most, too.

What is your greatest Literacy First consulting success story? 

At this past year’s Leadership Conference, Emporia-KS USD253 had all 6 Elementary Schools and one Middle School honored for their data.  I only consult at 3 campuses, however the commitment that the district has made and the impact that our team of Literacy First consultants has accomplished demonstrate what power our process of reading can achieve.  Woo Hoo!

What have you learned from your experience as a consultant?

Here are some major points that I have learned:

  • Believe in the Literacy First Process; it takes time; do it with fidelity
  • Witness the struggle of teachers; honor what they have in place and keep establishing the standard of what we expect in the Literacy First process
  • Demonstration lessons have a huge impact on bringing teachers along in the process; working with “their kids” makes it real
  • Keep positive yet address the needs for growth
  • It takes a team to do the work when we are not with them
  • Teachers are like classes; they are differentiated, too
  • It is not always an easy process; it IS rewarding to see teachers grow and students embrace success and have fun learning.

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!

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

John Fergus

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