Education, Escambia County School District, Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, Great Teachers, Kathryn Lovely, Lesson, Montclair, Montclair Elementary School, Student Achievement, Teacher, Teacher of the Year, Teaching, Teaching Excellence, Transformational School, Turnaround Schools, Writing Coach
Meet Montclair Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year 2011, Ms. Kathryn Lovely. Ms. Lovely is the child of life long educators. Her father, Lorin Lovely, was a high school teacher and coach and went on to be an administrator in a high school before becoming principal of an alternative high school. Kathryn’s mother, E. Marie Lovely, was a kindergarten teacher in the school district for more than 30 years. A former school district administrator offered the following about Kathryn’s parents:
Lorin was an advocate for children who did not seem to have an advocate. Marie influenced the lives of beginning students in all kinds of positive ways; she was loved and beloved by children and parents.
Ms. Lovely is celebrating her 19th year as an educator and a “celebration” it is! Since her initial year teaching Kathryn has been recognized as an outstanding teacher—one who can ignite the fun of learning with all children—using song, dance, rhyming, and of course hard work.
In the classroom Ms. Lovely focuses on empowering students. Students are the driver of their learning and use strategies that she teaches to be inquisitive learners and problem solvers in school and in life. Again, a former district administrator comments:
Kathryn’s passion is watching students learn and embrace the learning process. She sees the potential barriers these students face and knows those barriers can be conquered. Her enthusiasm for teaching and learning is contagious with children and the adults she encounters as well. She is an active participant in the teaching and learning process and a great example of effective teachers everywhere.
I had an opportunity to watch Ms. Lovely team teach this week and later talk with her over lunch about my experience observing her in the classroom. Her excitement is contagious and her passion for kids evident in both how she moves about the room, delivers the lesson, engages with each student in the room, and shares their successes. As writing coach, Ms. Lovely works with students across grade-levels and classrooms.
In 2010-11, the FCAT writing scores for students at her school, Montclair Elementary, were the second highest in the Escambia County School District.
After spending some time in professional development sessions and in the classroom with the teachers from Montclair, it is evident that Ms. Lovely and her colleagues, collectively across grade level, are the reason for the high writing scores.
We each have something to contribute to writing skills that are assessed—focus, organization, conventions, and elaboration and support—that is the importance of team teaching or coaching for me; we complement one another because they have something that I don’t have.
I asked her about the students:
I love children. I love seeing them become engaged writers. At the beginning of the year they’re not too keen on seeing me in their classrooms; but, by the end of mid-year, they are stopping me in the hallway and saying “read this… I want to be an author!” They’re having fun writing.
Ms. Lovely also shared that she loved working with children who may be struggling a bit with their writing. She works with them step-by-step sometimes starting with one word for them to think about, and then for the children to say to her before moving on to thinking about and creating a full sentence. She says, “If they can think about it, then they can speak about it, and if they can speak about it, then they can write it.” I also heard the children say this many times in the class I observed.
If I can think about it, then I can speak about it. If I can speak about it, then I can write about it.
Ms. Lovely recognizes that “once the students realize this is true for them then they begin to elaborate.”
The Writing Lesson
Today, the kids were focused on sharing their party planning expertise with someone who was throwing a birthday party. Ms. Lovely challenges herself to think about what she (or a reader) might want to read about when designing such a lesson. She encourages the students to “choose one thing and stretch it out” (i.e., elaborate) and the kids repeat this out loud and with their hands and arms moving from close together (as one) into an encompassing (stretched out) circle. The kids worked through the following description wheel for their first paragraph.
At the end of the lesson the students had elaborated and supported their choice of food for the party with fun descriptions (e.g., “… ate so much we had to wheel him out in a wheelbarrow”) and food suggestions (e.g., New Orleans food, American food, Mexican food, Soul food). Once again, Ms. Lovely and her colleague had sparked interest and creativity in the children as evidenced in the students’ completed paragraphs.
Teaching Excellence Extends Beyond the Classroom
Not surprisingly, when one of her colleagues sat down with us at lunch Ms. Lovely shifted the conversation to include that teacher. She shared with me (and her colleague) the strengths she sees in that colleague’s teaching of students and was specific in why the strengths were beneficial. Teachers enter their classrooms every day with one goal: to help students learn. Great school leaders help teachers achieve this goal; Ms. Kathryn Lovely, a great teacher and writing coach, models this for her colleagues.
Ms. Lovely was recognized by her colleagues as the Teacher of the Year for Montclair Elementary School in 2011. She shares the school values, knows how to problem solve, and serves as a mentor for other teachers. She is passionate about teaching, she shares her love for learning, and she is tireless in her commitment to help students learn, grow, and achieve. Ms. Lovely is a great teacher.
Ms. Kathryn Lovely is a teacher and writing coach at Montclair Elementary School, Escambia County, Florida. She is completing her 19th year as an educator. In 2011, Kathryn’s colleagues recognized her as Teacher of the Year for their school.
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