If you ask Harrison Elementary Family Resource Coordinator Tanya Coughlin what the essence of her job is, she will tell you it’s about creating relationships and breaking down barriers. She works tirelessly to provide the support and the solutions that will allow students to succeed in the classroom and that is why Tanya has been named one of our January Staff Spotlight nominees.
“She goes above and beyond to assure the students’ and parents’ needs are met,” said Tanya’s nominator, Harrison teacher Kellie Brown.
Tanya makes a point of introducing herself to students early on during their time at Harrison. She tells them that her goal is to help them do their best in school and shares with them the type of issues that might cause them to stumble in the classroom.
“We talk about what the barriers may be – food, clothes, emotional – and that emotions are OK, we just need to manage them so they don’t create a roadblock to learning,” says Tanya, who is in her sixth year at Harrison and with the District.
Tanya is a constant presence throughout the school as she knows connecting with the students and earning their trust – and their families’ trust – is key to helping a struggling student succeed.
“My agenda every day is to build relationships and rapport with every family so that when something happens they are comfortable coming to me” for support, she said.
Key to a student’s success is being in school, and Tanya is an integral member of the attendance team at Harrison, where she has created fun incentives and attainable goals that make students want to come to school every day.
Tanya, who was formerly director of a local preschool, is a guide for her fellow staff as well, connecting them with the right resources to share with families. For her part, Tanya appreciates the support she receives back from teachers and staff.
“Our staff comes ready to be part of a support system…We get creative. We think outside the box to help students….I love the energy in our building,” Tanya says. “It’s a really positive place to be.
Lakewood High School art teacher Amy Sedlak is really a Girl Scout at heart. She has translated her commitment to community service learned as a young Scout into a philosophy she imparts to her new crop of students each year. Her dedication to her students and community is what has earned her the title of January Staff Spotlight honoree.
Besides teaching her students the many nuances and skills necessary to create beautiful art, which she has been doing for 30 years for Lakewood Schools, Amy also teaches her students that they can use their talent to better their community.
For Amy, it’s simple, “I like to help people,” she says.
The variety of projects range from creating ceramic tiles for the Lakewood Park bandstand, painting rain barrels and a mural for Madison Park to this year’s project, making ceramic mugs plates and ornaments to sell in order to raise money for House Principal Yakoob Badat’s Nanze organization, which builds schools in Yakoob’s native Malawi.
Amy is always looking to expand her students’ minds beyond the classroom. Last year, she spent hours and hours of her own time organizing the Art Department’s trip to Italy for 32 students and creating enriching lessons for the students about Italy’s culture and art.
Amy’s work in the classroom is outstanding as well, evidenced by the regional and sometimes national awards her students garner in various annual art contests, including the prestigious Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. These award submissions take hours of extra work to prepare.
“She has gone above and beyond in her role as a teacher and is role model for her students and the staff,” said Amy’s nominator, fellow art teacher Dayna Hansen. “She is a phenomenal teacher!”