As a traveler from a young age, LHS Intervention Specialist Alison Breckel knows the value of exploring the world. Her passion and commitment to sharing that wanderlust with students is something that drives her and has led to her earning recognition as one of our May Staff Spotlight honorees.
Alison and her fellow chaperones recently returned from a Spring Break trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with 19 students. They hiked volcanoes, sailed on the Pacific, and interacted with myriad friendly tropical animals. Students learned about history, ecology, the Spanish language, and about the expansive nature of our world community. The trip is the sixth she has taken with students. She has opened students’ eyes to such places as Peru, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
“Alison is an engaged teacher who creates transformative learning experiences for Lakewood High School students,” said her nominator, LHS teacher Matt Heslep, who accompanied Alison to the Galapagos.
“I get great joy watching students experience new situations,” said Alison.
Since Alison joined the District in 2002, she has been finding ways to engage with students outside of the classroom. She was instrumental in getting the girls’ rugby club up and running and coached the club during its most successful years, including a national championship. She has been a class adviser, Student Council adviser, and a key member of the early Fresh Start orientation days.
In the classroom, Alison feels great satisfaction helping students overcome hardships that may prevent them from being successful in school and life. She prides herself on being someone many students feel welcome to share concerns or just talk. “I like being that trusted adult,” she says.
Says Matt about Alison: “Like many of our educators in Lakewood, Alison has the ability to make learning come alive in real and meaningful ways for students by looking for experiences that transcend the classroom walls all the way to South America.”
Alison volunteers many hours to making the Travel Club trips a success. She is already into planning next year’s adventure – to Ireland. It will be just one more time that Alison has helped open the world to our students.
Starting in a new workplace often takes some time to adjust to your new surroundings and colleagues. Lincoln Reading Intervention Specialist Mandy Fleming turned that notion on its head when she landed at her new school this past fall. The swift impact she has made with her Lincoln Leaders of Service Club has helped earn her a spot as one of our May Staff Spotlight honorees.
“This club is what first made me realize the impact that she has had on this school in such a short amount of time,” said Mandy’s nominator, Laura Strauss.
Mandy, who joined the District in 2009, said that as soon as she heard she was headed to Lincoln, she knew she wanted to start a club that would focus on helping others. When she found out that the idea of a service club had been batted around at the school but never realized, she took the reins and ran with them.
Each month a specific grade leads the service project with Mandy’s guidance. The club has collected hats and gloves, filled a crib with baby items to help a local shelter and even had West Shore Construction Trades students build a doghouse for the club’s pet supplies collection for the Lakewood Animal Shelter. Her collection displays in the hallway are always bright and creative.
Mandy is buoyed by the students’ enthusiasm for service. “They are motivated and want to help others,” she said. She is also grateful for the support she has received from Principal Sandy Kozelka and her colleagues. “Our teachers really value and promote (the club),’” she said.
Mandy doesn’t stop at the Lincoln Leaders club, she also serves as a coach on the Girls on the Run team.
Inside the classroom, Mandy’s room is always abuzz with active learning.
Says Laura of Mandy’s success with her third- through fifth-graders : The work that kids do in her room is amazing. They lead book club discussions, work independently on individually created projects and help each other with such kindness. She even gives up lunch hours to help kids who need a little extra support…. She has really made a huge impact her first year at Lincoln.”