At Schenck Elementary School in Denver, third-grade teacher Diane Marie Palmer-Furman views her school as a beautiful piece of music, and herself as part of the team that composes it. Mrs. Palmer-Furman engages students in curriculum by making learning relevant for them. She helped introduce a new reading and writing program to the staff, and with a team of teachers, created an instructional unit for informative writing. Every student in her classroom last year made gains of at least one grade level on the Colorado Basic Literacy Act (CBLA) Assessment. Mrs. Palmer-Furman is currently working toward an endorsement in English Language Acquisition (ELA). Listed in Who's Who Among America's Teachers in 2002, Mrs. Palmer-Furman is currently a book room coordinator and a Denver Kids mentor to a high school student.
As literacy instructional coach at Stein Elementary School in Lakewood, Kathleen H. Swanson helps the school function as an active Professional Learning Community. By directly linking teacher learning with assessed student needs, she helps her colleagues provide immediate and focused classroom intervention and differentiated instruction. In the past six years, Stein Elementary has risen from one of the lowest performing schools to one of the highest performing Title I schools in Jefferson County. Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) scores have soared since Mrs. Swanson implemented the school-wide instruction design plan. This is no small feat, given that the school serves a population with multiple at-risk factors including poverty and a high turnover rate. Mrs. Swanson is a member of numerous organizations including the National Staff Development Council, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and the International Reading Association.
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