Sara Schultz Camren, Imagine Schools’
2019 National Teacher of the Year
Imagine Schools 2019′ National Teacher of the Year Winner, Sara Schultz Camren, teaches 9thgrade IGCSE Biology (The Cambridge’s International General Certificate of Secondary Education) at Imagine Prep Surprise, Arizona, a member of Monte Lange’s Group. Sara is a certified Cambridge Trainer and has been named a Master STEM teacher through the Center for the Future of Arizona, supporting 100,000 US STEM teachers over the next 10 years.
As a biology teacher, Sara believes “all students should have the opportunity to learn from authentically engaging, rigorous instruction that best meets the needs of each individual learner.” With this belief in the forefront of her planning, she scaffolds and differentiates instruction for her students. She regularly uses formative assessments to determine which students have mastered both content knowledge and skills, and provides timely and relevant feedback on an individual basis. With data as her determinant, Sara decides which students need to be retaught before moving on to the next topic or skill. Her consistent use of authentic, engaging labs provides all students the opportunity to participate and succeed.
The success of Sara’s approach to teaching biology is reflected in the results of the end of course Cambridge Exam. Students earning a qualifying mark on this exam are considered college ready in the area of biology. Over the past three years, 76% of Sara’s students demonstrated college-readiness in biology at the end of 9thgrade, which is approximately 57% higher than all other Cambridge schools throughout the United States.
Sara is a teacher who sees the gifts and talents of all students. She realizes that each student develops and grows at an individual pace, and she is willing to plan for and support that growth as best benefits each student.
Selected as our 2019 National Teacher of the Year, winner Sara Schultz Camren represents the many outstanding Imagine Schools educators across the nation. We celebrate her passions for science and teaching, and her desire for her students to think, write, and speak through the lens of a scientist. Congratulations, Sara!
Hayley Culp, Imagine Schools’ 2019
National Teacher of the Year Co-Runner Up
Hayley Culp, Imagine Schools’ 2019 National Teacher of the Year Co-Runner Up from Amy Buttke’s Group, teaches 7thand 8thgrade English Language Arts at Imagine Great Western in Ohio. Hayley makes it a point to build meaningful, deep relationships with her students. As students engage in learning, it is evident they own their learning and have a voice in developing and customizing projects and activities. Hayley personalizes the education of her students through frequent conversations that delve into their needs and her expectations. She takes time for students to reflect, try new ideas, and even, at times, express doubt. She guides with firmness, yet students know she cares, and they trust that she is taking them on a road to success.
As one views the classroom of Hayley and her students, it is immediately evident that the environment is created for collaboration, comfort, and middle schoolers. The alternative seating allows for regularly formed small group work, individual work, and full class meetings and activities. The numerous anchor charts demonstrate the current skills and concepts being learned. The number of high interest books for middle schoolers indicate Hayley’s commitment to students this age to become strong readers and researchers. The Chrome Books/Tablets provided are in recurring use as students engage in research for projects and presentations.
The academic growth of her students, as measured by STAR, demonstrates positive movement in all categories. Hayley predicts a median score of 60 SGP by the end of the school year – a significant achievement as Imagine Great Western’s student population is 100% Free and Reduced Lunch. In addition to using academic growth data, Hayley increased her focus on community in the classroom this year. With this focus, there were zero behavioral write ups for her classroom.
We honor you, Hayley, for giving a voice and ownership of learning to your students, even though, at times, it is “messy.” Congratulations!
Crystal Bancroft, Imagine Schools’ 2019
National Teacher of the Year Co-Runner Up
Crystal Bancroft, Imagine Schools’ 2019 National Teacher of the Year Co- Runner Up teaches 1stgrade at Imagine Bell Canyon, Arizona, a member of Dr. Bradford Uchacz’s Group. One parent sums up the impact of Crystal as a teacher in one sentence: “Ms. Bancroft has left an impression on [my child] that will last a lifetime.” Crystal holds parents in high esteem, knowing the importance of the parent-teacher partnership. Through continuous communication, an openness to parent opinions and feedback, and an excellent understanding of the importance of parents for economic sustainability, Crystal works closely with parents to ensure the success of her students.
The significance of Imagine Schools’ Shared Values came to the forefront for Crystal as she reached out to her instructional coach and colleagues for advice on how to motivate students to write more while enjoying the process. Her conversations resulted in a school-wide initiative to improve writing instruction. A focus on writing was offered through professional learning events on campus and at the region office.
Referring to data is an important aspect in planning and tracking progress for Crystal’s students. Using multiple forms of data (STAR, DIBELS, Galileo, writing notebooks, formative and summative classroom assessment results, and AR results), she guides data discussions with her students. Students self-assess and identify errors and determine how to improve – impressive for 1st graders!
As a member of the Character committee, Crystal pioneered the use of morning meeting in the lower grades. She reports, “Students sit in a circle and answer a question, taking turns listening and sharing. . . This has built a strong classroom community; for 1st graders to be able to sit quietly, listen to each other, and develop empathy in their responses throughout this process has truly been remarkable.”
Imagine Bell Canyon Principal Joshua Jordan states that Crystal “. . . has an immeasurable impact on student enrollment, teacher retention and development, and staff morale.” Congratulations, Crystal, on being honored as National Teacher of the Year Co-Runner up.
Emily Fernandez, Imagine Schools’ 2019
National Teacher of the Year Co-Runner Up
Emily Fernandez, Imagine Schools’ 2019 National Teacher of the Year Co-Runner Up, teaches Kindergarten at Imagine West Melbourne, Florida, a member of Diane Beatty’s Group. With ten years of teaching experience, two at Imagine West Melbourne, Emily utilizes her expertise to serve as the Kindergarten Planning Lead. She also develops school-wide professional development workshops on small group instruction, differentiation, and classroom organization. Her contributions to collaborative planning have taken the overall campus to a new level in lesson planning and teamwork.
Realizing the importance of a solid foundation in Kindergarten, Emily looks at all students as competent individuals who learn in different ways and at different paces. Her ongoing use of data through anecdotal records, formative assessments, skill checks and STAR assist her in individualized small group plans where she targets specific needs in group settings and independent work.
Emily’s strong focus on academics and character have resulted in fall to mid-term growth in STAR Early Literacy of a 1.16 learning gain and a mid-term to winter gain of 1.22. In math, her students started the year averaging 65% correct on the KLS Math Inventory, and as of January, were averaging 85% correct on this same assessment. Emily realizes that early success for students on this campus, which serves a population of 100% free and reduced families, is of utmost importance.
Equally important are the Restorative Practices approaches Emily uses with her students as they grow in their skillsets to resolve conflicts respectfully and experience the power of forgiveness. Emily’s goal is that each of her students will be intrinsically motivated to do the right thing, showing humility, compassion, and empathy.
Mr. DeGonzague, Principal of Imagine West Melbourne, notes, “Mrs. Fernandez is a model for deepening the moral imperative through performance character and Integrity, Justice and Fun… her leadership through Imagine Schools’ Shared Values has supported the transformation of our campus culture.” Congratulations to you, Emily!
Elena Eacker, Teacher of the Year Winner, Rod Sasse’s Group
Elena Eacker, from Rod Sasse’s Group, teaches 2nd grade at Imagine Weston in Florida. Elena promotes a 21st Century classroom that is project-based, and also encourages parents to be involved in the classroom, sharing their own personal talents and strengths. As a long-time 2nd grade team leader, she has led numerous activities, including the “2nd Grade Back to School Bootcamp”. Her teacher colleague reflects that Bootcamp allowed, “teachers to get to know incoming students, adjust class placement if necessary, and identify potential and academic issues before school started.”
Excellent teachers like Elena realize the need for ongoing formative assessments and the importance of immediate adjustments to instruction as required. Elena looks at each individual score, and upon notice of a downward trend, works to support misconceptions and gaps in learning. Utilizing Student Growth Percentile (SGP) as a strong indicator of progress, Elena’s monitoring of this assessment indicates her current overall STAR Reading SGP is 71% and her STAR Math SGP is 52%. Student data folders house goals, record-keeping and self-reflection for Reading and Math. Regardless of current successes, students are encouraged to grow even more… there is no ceiling and no one can rest on great scores!
Of Imagine Schools’ Measures of Excellence, Elena has a passion for Shared Values and has served on this committee for eight years, co-chairing for four years. Important to Elena is that the staff feel connected to one another and live out justice, integrity and fun. This group of dedicated members she leads creates lesson plans for teachers and brings lighthearted laughter through holiday activities. With a strong understanding of Imagine’s 80/20 principle, she attends, promotes and leads activities such as school dances, Pasta Bingo Night, the Fun Run, Winter Show, Galas and Dine-outs.
Imagine Weston’s principal writes, “She is masterful at guiding and supporting her colleagues in planning, analyzing data, and creating programs for the benefit of her students and all the students at the school. Mrs. Eacker is respected and beloved by her colleagues, her parents, and students. She gives unselfishly of her time and talents.” Thank you, Elena, for your commitment to our families and colleagues!
Cicely Cook, Teacher of the Year Winner, Shawn Toler’s Group
Cicely Cook, teaches 4th grade math at Imagine Andrews, Maryland, a member of Shawn Toler’s Group. As a vital team member of the Imagine family for seven years, Cicely’s willingness to serve where most needed was exemplified this year as she switched grade levels in the middle of the year to teach 4th grade. Her passion to teach originated as a desire to be someone who could make an impact on education, and she is recognized this year for her contributions to her families and colleagues.
One of Cicely’s passions is science. She leads Girls Who Code, a program to empower young girls in the areas of engineering and technology. As the Science Chair, she supports her colleagues with various science resources and provides guidance for the STEM Fair.
Her instruction is driven by multiple data points while providing the justice students need in order to be successful. The Student Learning Objective (SLO) pre and post-test measures student progress on the major math standards. On the SLO pretest that was administered in September, 10.42% of the 4th grade students met or exceeded proficiency, and on the SLO post-test, 65.3% of the students met or exceeded proficiency. This growth in academic achievement is partially due to a focus on character development. Cicely provides time in daily scheduling to help students build relationships through her morning circles. She also promotes the value of Fun with her students empowered to make decisions regarding classroom jobs, topics for morning meetings and Character Student of the Month.
Ms. Cook’s facilitative teaching style allows all students to be involved in problem-solving and risk-taking. Her positive encouragement and feedback is evident in her classroom instruction where all students have the ability to express their thoughts and set their personal goals. There is evidence of compassion, encouragement and love throughout the day; conditions that all students need in order to thrive. Congratulations, Cicely!