FELLOW TESTIMONIALS

2013 - 2014
KEPNER MIDDLE SCHOOL (DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS), TUTORING 8TH GRADE
2012
LAKE INTERNATIONAL MIDDLE SCHOOL (DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS), TUTORING 7TH & 8TH GRADE
2010 - 2013
GREEN VALLEY ELEMENTARY (DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS), TUTORING 4TH GRADE
2012 - 2013
MCGLONE ELEMENTARY (DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS), TUTORING 4TH GRADE
2010 - 2013
MCGLONE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS), TUTORING 4TH GRADE
2012 - 2013
MCGLONE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS), TUTORING 4TH GRADE

Zach Travis

KEPNER MIDDLE SCHOOL (DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS), TUTORING 8TH GRADE

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  • What is the most powerful part of the Fellows Program?

    Because the Blueprint program model has Fellows working with students in small groups, every single student at my school with a Fellow had a relationship with an adult in the building. This is powerful because many students will get lost in a classroom of 20 students, but still need that adult relationship to feel a connection to the school. It also means that there were 28 extra advocates for the students in the building.

  • What is the hardest part?

    Accepting all the things you do not have control over. Students will come to you with problems (no heat at home, parent issues, having to walk 1.5 miles to and from school, etc.) and you will try to help them, but sometimes there is nothing you can do to help. It is so frustrating to watch your kids struggle with issues and have those issues bleed over into instructional time.

  • Tell me about the students you work with. What changes have you seen in them throughout the year?

    All of my students are generous, loyal, and kind. However, one of the saddest parts of coming to Kepner is witnessing the complete lack of pride these kids have in their academics. Many of my kids have failed every math class they have had since 4th grade without any consequences. As a result, many of these kids will not care anymore if they fail. Many students just randomly guessed on multiple choice tests. The accomplishment I am most proud of this year is witnessing my kids begin to care about academics again. We discussed the importance of math, used rewards systems including calling parents for positive results, and held high expectations for effort and by the end of the year saw a drastic change in many of the student’s work ethic and pride. I had kids work hard for two hours on a test that they would have spent 20 minutes on earlier in the year.

  • What are the other Fellows at your school like? What is it like working together?

    The Fellows at Kepner were a talented and diverse group. It was an enjoyable experience working with all of them. The thing that impressed me the most was everyone’s willingness to help. If someone was having a rough day with their students, then 5 Fellows would be there to help support them emotionally. It was great to have such knowledgeable and helpful Fellows going through the experience at the same time.

  • Would you recommend the Blueprint Fellows Program to others? Who would you recommend the program for? Why?

    I would absolutely recommend the Blueprint Fellows Program for anybody. But anyone applying to the program needs to be ready to commit to a year of service and focused on trying to help the kids as much as possible. This job is both rewarding and difficult. The experience will change you just as much as it changes the kids.

Caitlin Ross

LAKE INTERNATIONAL MIDDLE SCHOOL (DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS), TUTORING 7TH AND 8TH GRADE

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  • What do you enjoy most about being a Blueprint Fellow?

    I enjoy being able to hone my teaching skills in a unique setting where I get to become an expert at questioning and driving student-centered lessons.

  • What is the most powerful part of the Fellows Program?

    The most powerful part of the Fellows Program is the experience of having intense and almost individualized instructional time with a student, and to see your work help them to feel success and gain confidence.

  • What is the hardest part?

    The hardest part of the Fellows Program is often determining whether the students we teach are truly lost, or if they just feel unmotivated about particular topics so that I can respond to their needs appropriately.

  • Why did you want to become a Fellow?

    I wanted to become a Fellow so that I could work with students and in a school while I pursing a full-time teaching position.

  • Tell me about the students you work with. What changes have you seen in them throughout the year?

    The students I work with began the year as unmotivated and low achieving. Throughout the year they have slowly become more confident, engaged, and interested learners who leave math class feeling good about themselves.

  • What are the other Fellows at your school like? What is it like working together?

    I really like working with the other Fellows. Some plan on pursuing careers in Education or teaching professionally, and some don’t, but it is great to be able to collaborate with other motivated people who are doing the same work as you.

  • What contributions does the Fellows Program make to the school overall?

    The Fellows Program adds twelve more positive role models to my school, catches students up on content they may have missed to help them gain confidence in their skills, and challenges them with new content. The Fellows Program also helps the students to become more self-reliant learners.

  • Would you recommend the Blueprint Fellows Program to others? Who would you recommend the program for? Why?

    I would recommend the Fellows Program to people who are pursuing Education as a career because it gives you a great perspective of what it is like to work in a school. It also motivates you to stay in the field because you see progress in each student, every day.

Peter Carlisle

GREEN VALLEY ELEMENTARY (DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS), TUTORING 4TH GRADE

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  • What do you enjoy most about being a Blueprint Fellow?

    There are so many benefits to being a Fellow: working with a team of like-minded and driven friends, the sense of purpose you get by being on the front lines of closing the achievement gap, developing deep relationships with the kids, and on top of all of that, actually achieving tremendous growth with them throughout the year. There is no question that we are making a difference.

  • What is the most powerful part of the Blueprint Fellows Program?

    The small groups allow us to build meaningful and lasting relationships with the kids. Seeing a student grow from the beginning of the year, when he or she often dislikes math, to the end of the year, when it is usually his or her favorite subject is extremely rewarding.

  • Why did you want to become a Fellow?

    I was seeking a position in which I might contribute to positive change in the world. Being a Math Fellow fit the bill perfectly.

  • Tell me about the students you work with. What changes have you seen in them throughout the year?

    One of the most wonderful changes I’ve seen is in some of the more quiet and shy children. Many of them have no confidence in themselves, but teaching them at their instructional level and showing them the growth they make using actual data really builds their confidence. Some of them are completely transformed by the end of the year!

  • What do you plan to do next year? How has the Blueprint Fellows Program influenced that decision?

    I will likely return for a third year of being a fellow. It is the most rewarding job I have ever had.

  • What are the other Fellows at your school like? What is it like working together?

    There is a strong sense of camaraderie between the Fellows at our school. Every day we spend time meeting, discussing, and troubleshooting- seeking out ways to make the program better. It is exhilarating working with a group of driven and like-minded colleagues!

  • Would you recommend the Blueprint Fellows Program to others? Who would you recommend the program for? Why?

    I would recommend this program both to people seeking a career in education (it is great for networking), and people who might just like to spend a year or two having an incredible life experience. The position works great for those freshly out of college or those who have been in the workforce a bit longer.

Andrea Vander Kamp

MCGLONE ELEMENTARY (DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS), TUTORING 4TH GRADE

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  • What do you enjoy most about being a Blueprint Fellow?

    I have really enjoyed getting to know the students on a more personal level. Because I see the kids in a small group every day, I have built a lot of personal relationships with my students. 

    I have also gained a lot of experience and beneficial feedback regarding how to teach, how to use data to drive instruction, and what an effective behavior system looks like for young kids. Although I don’t have the intention of pursuing education, I think all of these skills with benefit me in my future career plans as a speech therapist.

  • What is the most powerful part of the Fellows Program?

    I feel a part of something that is bigger than me. It is exciting to be surrounded by people and a culture that is passionate about putting students first and providing them with tools and strategies they need to succeed.

  • What is the hardest part?

    This job is a commitment/investment. I had no experience in education with lesson planning or instructing. At the beginning of the year, I spent a lot of time lesson planning and getting comfortable with the curriculum. There are certainly days when you put in more hours (whether it is a part of the commute, lesson planning, meetings after school, etc.) than you expect and students can be behaviorally challenging.

  • Why did you want to become a Fellow?

    I had recently graduated from college with a degree in psychology and I was looking for a transitional job before going back to school for speech therapy. When I saw the advertisement for this job, I thought it sounded like a good option because I would gain experience working with urban kids in a small group setting and I was excited about the program’s purpose.

  • Tell me about the students you work with. What changes have you seen in them throughout the year?

    One of the reasons I love this job so much is due to the opportunity I have had to build relationships with my students. It can be both challenging and rewarding to have them in small group instruction every day. I have already seen a lot of growth in them academically, socially, and as critical thinkers. It is exciting to observe them using strategies they use in tutoring and in the classroom. I have been impressed with how, when given the right structure and support, the kids can start to explain their own thinking, collaborate with one another, and ask probing questions. It is so rewarding when you see the kids start to feel successful.

  • What do you plan to do next year? How has the Fellows Program influenced that decision?

    I am planning on going back to school to get my MA in speech therapy. I want to work with young kids (ages 2-6), possibly those with developmental disabilities. I knew I wanted to pursue this career before applying for the Fellows Program.

    However, I feel that I have gained a very important skill set that will no doubt apply to my future career. I will definitely use what I have learned about how to use data effectively to drive how I plan for the following session as well as how powerful it can be for kids to develop a sense of ownership over their own data.

  • What are the other Fellows at your school like? What is it like working together?

    I feel very grateful for my team here. I have sincerely enjoyed working with them on a daily basis. It was especially helpful to have a returning Fellow on our team whom I was never afraid to ask questions of. I feel very supported by all of them.

  • What contributions does the Fellows Program make to the school overall?

    We have always been included in all school activities, whether it be the staff retreat at the beginning of the year, weekly staff meetings, field trips, or parent teacher conferences. The fourth grade teachers have expressed their gratitude for our support. The data from last year’s TCAP showed significant growth in math and some of that can be attributed to the Blueprint Fellows Program.

  • Would you recommend the Blueprint Fellows Program to others? Who would you recommend the program for? Why?

    I would definitely recommend this program to those looking for transitional work, experience teaching, or even to teachers who are looking for an opportunity to do small group instruction for a little while. I would also recommend it to those who are flexible, passionate about making a difference and feel comfortable with being observed and receiving feedback on a regular basis.

Sarah Kirker

MCGLONE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS), TUTORING 4TH GRADE

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  • What do you enjoy most about being a Blueprint Fellow?

    The thing I enjoy most about being a Blueprint Fellow are the relationships I am able to build with my students. The small group framework allows for the Fellows and the students to get to know each other on a more personal level. This is very rewarding and encourages a very strong bond between Fellows and their students.

  • Why did you want to become a Fellow?

    I wanted to become a Fellow because I wanted to share my love of math with children. I have always loved math and it makes me so happy to see my students begin to feel the same way about it.

  • Tell me about the students you work with. What changes have you seen in them throughout the year?

    One of the biggest changes we see in our students over the course of the year is the increase in confidence that they show. Most students come into tutoring on the first day with an “I hate math” or “math is too hard” attitude. By the end of the year most of the students that we work with would say that math is their favorite subject.

  • What are the other Fellows at your school like? What is it like working together?

    One of my favorite parts of the Fellows program is the collaboration with the other Fellows and teachers at my school. We are a tight knit team who look out for each other and work together to make sure that we are doing the best we possibly can for our students. It is great to have such supportive and positive people to work with every day.

  • Would you recommend the Blueprint Fellows Program to others? Who would you recommend the program for? Why?

    I would recommend the Fellows program to anyone that wants to make an immediate difference in a child’s life. By supporting these kids in their learning we are helping to open doors for them in the future, but also supporting them emotionally and academically right now. Tutoring allows the kids to feel successful in a subject that they have often struggled with which is a great confidence boost for them.

Jamara Knight

MCGLONE ELEMENTARY (DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS), TUTORING 4TH GRADE

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  • What do you enjoy most about being a Blueprint Fellow?

    The greatest part about being a Fellow is that I have the privilege of working with kids in small groups. This allows me to build close relationships with the children I teach and to get to know each individual child on a more personal level. Building this rapport with students makes it easier to teach and challenge them because you know where they are academically, but also where they are socially and emotionally.

  • What is the most powerful part of the Fellows Program?

    Being a Fellow proves powerful in the sense that we see the growth the kids achieve, but equally important is that we have the opportunity to grow as well. As a Fellow you are continuously supported throughout the year. In addition to being part of a team of Fellows, we have a Fellows Coordinator who observes our small group teaching on a weekly basis and gives us feedback on how we can better support our children in their learning. It doesn’t matter how much experience you may or may not have teaching. Our Coordinator, much like what we do with our kids, meets us at our level. Examples of supports I have received to name a few include: challenging me to ask deeper questions, ensuring that I hold kids accountable, and reinforcing ideas for structured partner work. Having this weekly feedback and scaffolded supports from my Coordinator has allowed me to grow as a teacher alongside my kids. I am grateful to have a job that is continuously challenging.

  • What is the hardest part?

    I struggled the most at the beginning of the year when I was less comfortable with the tutoring curriculum. Planning lessons took a long time and I often worked outside of school hours to feel prepared for small group instruction.

  • Tell me about the students you work with. What changes have you seen in them throughout the year?

    One student I worked with at the beginning of the year only spoke Spanish. I worked hard to teach my lessons in both English and Spanish. As the weeks passed by I used Spanish less and less and started pulling those supports away as he learned more and more English vocabulary. It is amazing how fast children learn English in an immersion environment.  Now, he speaks in full English sentences and knows math vocabulary words in English just as well as the other kids.

  • Would you recommend the Blueprint Fellows Program to others? Who would you recommend the program for? Why?

    Yes, I would definitely recommend the program to others. It is a great path for those who are interested in becoming teachers and want to become more adept at using data to inform lessons for students. It is also a great job for those who like working with kids and want to make a difference.