Coach of the Month
All reading coach consultants and/or teachers in the Read to be Ready Coaching Network can nominate one of their Read to be Ready district coaches each month to be selected as the Coach of the Month. The Coach of the Month exemplifies a passion for literacy and learning and is a leader in their school district and community. If you would like to nominate a coach for this honor, fill out this form.
My name is Tiffany Marshall, and I have been a teacher in the Cocke County School System for 21 years and an educator for 22 years. I have been married for 21 years and have twin daughters that are getting ready to turn sixteen. My favorite coaching moment was when I went into a second grade classroom to observe an interactive read aloud and I saw the children’s excitement on their faces when they heard the book read. The vocabulary helped the students develop a deeper knowledge of the content that was being presented to them. It is rewarding to see students learn in a way that is exciting and fun for them. I enjoy being a Read to be Ready coach and working with my teachers. I have been blessed to work with such a caring group of teachers in the Cocke County School System. I find it an honor to have been chosen the November Coach of the month for Read to Be Ready. It has always been my dream to help children succeed in everything that they do, and this coaching job provides me the opportunity to touch many different students’ lives.
I am currently in my 19th year with the Anderson County School System. The entire length of my tenure has been with Norris Elementary School. I have been a kindergarten, first and second grade teacher, a literacy coach, and now I’m in my fourth year as a K-5 academic coach.
"The future depends on what we do in the present." Mahatma Ghandi
This quote represents my sense of urgency in early childhood literacy. The greatest impact we can have on making a better world for all of us is to spend our time and energy teaching our children how to be literate citizens. In our county, we have a motto, "Every student, every day." Everyone who walks through our school doors every morning matters. What we do with those students does make a difference. We have to make every moment matter.
My impact may no longer be felt directly on a classroom of 20 students, but if I can help improve the teaching of the teachers in my building, then my impact on lives totals many more. We do important work. We have to bring our best to every teacher and every student, every day. If we do that, we will have a brighter future.
My Favorite Coaching Story
There are so many moments that have had an impact on me personally. My favorite times are spent modeling for teachers so I can fulfill that teaching need with students. I love mentoring teachers and seeing them grow. I have found a passion for quality professional development. But, the best part of my job is getting to constantly learn more about literacy and sharing that valuable information with my teachers at my school.
It seems I have a new light bulb moment every year. My 2016-17 aha has been moving from teacher-centered classrooms vs. student-centered classrooms. Until teachers make that shift to putting students at the center of every decision they make, progress in the classroom will be minimal. The evidence of student learning is on the top of desks, not at the front of the room.
I also have a favorite star-struck moment. This past October, I attended a coaching institute at Columbia University's Teachers College. During lunch I was a little overwhelmed by the process in the Columbia University cafeteria. Lucy Calkins came to my rescue and ordered my lunch for me. Only my teacher-nerd friends could appreciate my awe.
This is my 27th year in education. I have been a teacher in grades one, two, four, and five at Oakmont Elementary and Centennial Elementary. I worked as director of education at The Renaissance Center for five years, during which time I taught computer networking for Dickson County High School, and directed The Learning Lab. I have been an interventionist, a reading recovery teacher, and an RTI² manager at Centennial Elementary. Currently, I am the instructional coach for Dickson Elementary School and The Discovery School. I have been in this position for two years.
The Read to be Ready network has given me a renewed excitement for the future of literacy instruction in our schools. This is the most focused and comprehensive literacy initiative we have had, and the shifts that are happening in our classrooms are real and lasting. Giving authentic literature the chance to affect our students on a deep, personal level by revisiting texts that are purposely aligned has resulted in elevated learning and knowledge for our students. Networking with my peer coaches and designing professional development sessions as a team has helped me grow as a coach, and it gives me a great appreciation for my colleagues and my profession. Having focused coaching conversations with my coach, Kim Daugherty, has given me a new insight into my own coaching practices and has helped me choose strategies that have been effective with teachers.
It is very special when I receive text messages with pictures of student work, because my teachers cannot wait to share them with me! Seeing a kindergartener sound spell the word “embarrassed” in describing a character in The Mitten (He is MBRST), or seeing students make their own glossaries is exciting to the teacher and to me! When a teacher announces that this is the last day we will revisit the book, and the class lets out a loud moan of disappointment, we know we’re making connections.
My career as an educator began with six years at Presbyterian Day School in Memphis—a private all boys’ school—where I taught pre-K, kindergarten and second grade. Next came 17 years in the public school system in Shelby County as an educator at Farmington Elementary School in Germantown. While a part of the Farmington family, I taught kindergarten and grades one, three, and four. I also had the honor of being a mentoring coach for new teachers.
I “retired” at the end of the 2015-16 school year. At the beginning of the current school year (2016-17), I began my 120-day position with Bartlett City Schools, as their Read to Be Ready coach, based at Ellendale Elementary School. It is a dream position because it fulfills my passions for both reading instruction and mentoring teachers!
I couldn’t pick just one favorite quote, so I chose the top two that best reflect my experiences as a member of the Read to Be Ready network:
“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” — Edmund Burke
“If you want kids to want to read then read amazing books aloud EVERY single day.” —Simply Inspired Teaching blog by Kari Yates
Favorite Coaching Story:
My favorite story thus far took place this past January in a second grade classroom. The class discussion began as designed in the lesson plan—comparing the characters of Molly from Molly’s Pilgrim and Ruby from The Story of Ruby Bridges. What did not go as planned was the depth of discussion led by the students into where both characters’ fathers had worked (relevant to major events in their families’ lives and their need to move from one city to another), and into whether Molly’s last name was ever given in Molly’s Pilgrim (which was a conversation spurred by a single student carefully reading additional information about this book and discovering its connection to a real woman named Molly). The lesson plan was built upon challenging the students in their understanding of two characters from two different texts. This would pass as rigor. Where the students then took the lesson, increased the rigor through a deeper understanding of what they had read, and through their own engaging student leadership.
Even more powerful to me was the realization that, through the use of read aloud discussions, these students had been provided with the opportunity to develop and practice the skills required of civil debate. What I witnessed was students sharing not only their own personal opinions but listening to and considering the thoughts of others. The students ‘hijacked’ the lesson and took it to a higher level, and they did it enthusiastically and with collaboration, all because of two books they had read—powerful.
"It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations--something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own." - Katherine Patterson
This Katherine Patterson quote illustrates the beauty of Tennessee’s Read to be Ready Initiative to provide Tennessee students the chance to read, discuss, learn, and get excited about books and other text. I am blessed to have the opportunity to be a Read to be Ready coach with the outstanding teachers, coaches, and administrators at Southside School in Lebanon, TN and Watertown Elementary School in Watertown, TN. Our students are the best! We are here to make a difference in their lives.
I could not do this without an amazing group of Wilson County Read to be Ready Coaches and supervisors, along with my wonderful RCC, Melissa Johnson. I am so thankful to our great state of Tennessee for this opportunity!
My 31 years as a public school educator has been spent with Metro/Davidson County and Wilson County Public Schools as a classroom teacher, Title I teacher, reading coach, instructional coach, and Read to be Ready coach. Every step of the way I have worked alongside wonderful, dedicated, caring educators that have shared their expertise and compassion. I strive to be like them as I work with teachers, coaches, and students. I thank these invaluable friends, my parents, husband, daughter, and son-in-law for their love and support. We teach our students that:
"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." - Charles W. Eliot
My name is Robin Watkins, and I serve as Coffee County Schools’ district literacy coach. I have been in education for 22 years. I have taught in two states, three districts, five schools, and six grade levels. As part of my leadership in literacy, I have had opportunities to serve on the Tennessee Board of the International Dyslexia Association, present at a wide variety of conferences, and lead trainings for multiple districts. This wide-range of experience has allowed me to develop a love of literacy instruction across grade levels and diverse school populations.
As a coach, I have found great joy seeing teachers succeed in their classrooms at motivating and moving students. Mentoring teachers has helped me find a new excitement and passion in my own career as I see them become successful, confident educators. Sharing my love of children’s literature and modeling how to inspire kids to love reading is my favorite part of working with teachers. The evidence of this love are the thousands of books lining the walls of my home and office. I’ve been the district literacy coach for six years, but I have been pushed, supported, challenged, and grown by my participation in Read to be Ready and by my relationship with Erin Phillips, my reading coach consultant.
Personally, I live on a family farm with my husband, our three teenage children, and seven of my in-laws. My life is full of excitement and great books. I have also been blessed to have tremendous friendships develop through my role as coach, including friendships with fellow coaches I have met in my region and throughout the state.
My name is Kimberly Partin and I have been an educator for more than 30 years. I’ve had the great pleasure of teaching a variety of grades in both the elementary and middle school settings throughout my career. I currently work for the Marion County School District where I’ve served as a reading interventionist and literacy coach at Monteagle Elementary for the last six years. I am thrilled about the implementation of the Read To Be Ready initiative in our school. For the first time in my career, I feel that the literacy needs of all students are being met. The changes I see in the classrooms assure me that our students are gaining a deeper level of learning. We have noticed student gains in comprehension, writing, and critical thinking ability. Being a part of this process has given me knowledge that is paramount to my career and the future of literacy for our students.
“Literacy is the most basic currency of the knowledge economy.” - Barack Obama
This quote represents my perspective on the importance of literacy because it expresses the fundamental dynamic that distinguishes levels of opportunity. Giving students a chance to ensure that they have access to those fundamentals is why I do what I do.
My name is Allison Hester and I proudly serve Sumner County Schools as J.W. Wiseman Elementary's lead educator and Read to be Ready coach. I live in Portland with my husband, Eric, and two sons, Will (sixth grade) and Henry (second grade). Both of my boys have attended J.W. Wiseman and have been blessed with the most amazing teachers throughout their elementary experience.
When I was given the opportunity to become a Read to be Ready coach, I immediately jumped on board, no questions asked. I was excited about the possibility of a new challenge and eager to learn and grow as a professional. Little did I know that the work I would embark on would be some of the most practical, focused, and impactful work I had done as a leader.
The Read to be Ready initiative opened my eyes, challenged my thinking, and positively impacted instructional practices at J.W. Wiseman. In less than a year, we have gone from planning lessons for the sole purpose of mastering a standard in isolation to planning units where we apply the standards to unlock meaning using high-quality, complex, content-rich texts that build knowledge about our world. I am proud to see continual growth and transformations each time I step into a classroom. Students are making extraordinary connections across texts, concepts, and disciplines. They are engaged in rich collaborative discussion, and writing and vocabulary usage has improved tremendously. Knowing that every student at J.W. Wiseman, including mine, is directly impacted by the work we do with Read to be Ready makes my job as a coach that much more rewarding.
During professional learning opportunities, I often remind teachers of the motto, “Know better, do better!” At J.W. Wiseman, we understand that lifelong learning is part of the job. When we know better, it’s our job as educators to do better. Read to be Ready has taught us a better way, and the teachers I serve eagerly accept the challenge!
I am honored to be selected as a Read to be Ready coach of the month. I am thankful for the strong leadership in Sumner County and at J.W. Wiseman. Without the support of our principal, Mrs. McClard, this work would have never reached our students. I am also blessed to work alongside the hardest working teachers I know. They have opened their classrooms, struggled through change, and continue to persevere. They are the true life-changers!
My name is Tracey Partain, and I am an instructional coach at Etowah City School, where I have taught for 27 years. During my career, I have taught grades three, five, six, seven, and eight. Because we are a one-school school system, it can be challenging to find ways to collaborate with others. This is one reason why I have loved being a part of the Read to Be Ready coaching community. Each month, I have time to collaborate with other coaches from my area and have the opportunity to talk with others about the successes and challenges I see as my teachers implement each part of the Read to Be Ready initiative.
Read to Be Ready is changing the way literacy is taught at Etowah City. I see more complex texts used to build knowledge and to allow students opportunities to practice new skills within authentic text. Students are spending more time reading books, and teachers are planning purposeful questions that lead to a rigorous culminating task.
am so grateful for the other Read to Be Ready coaches (and Kelley Key, my reading coach consultant) who support me while I support teachers at my school. The knowledge and training that I am receiving and sharing with my teachers is priceless.
I am currently in my 38th year of working in education. I have worked the majority of those years in the Sweetwater City School system. I’ve had the privilege of spending 28 years as a classroom teacher in grades 1-3, and the past 10 years have been spent as an instructional coach working with K-4 teachers.
“Collaboration allows teachers to capture each other’s fund of collective intelligence.” - Mike Schmoker, Results Now
This quote represents my belief in the importance of collaboration and the role it plays, not only in effective instruction but in relationships between teachers as well. When we feel supported and encouraged, we feel empowered to try new teaching strategies. When we have a group to reflect with, we learn how to refine our practices and make them even better. Everyone wins.
I am honored to work with a third-grade team of nine teachers who embrace collaboration. When we first learned we were going to be a part of Read to be Ready, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation from anyone on our team. We’ve worked together to make this new learning meaningful, and I couldn’t be prouder of how teachers are implementing all components of Read to be Ready in their classrooms. For more years than I can count, I had a vision for some type of support in the area of reading and writing to become available for primary teachers. Finally, it happened. Read to be Ready is impacting teachers and students in powerful ways and will positively impact future learning.
I have too many favorite coaching stories to share, so I’ll simply say that I look at each day as a new opportunity to work with my teachers with next steps. I am passionate about the conversations I hear from students in the classroom and the authentic learning in which I see students engaged.