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No matter teachers’ past, they positively impact students every day.Whatever their history, teachers are responsible for students’ futures. Although one may have planned to become a famous actor or a physician, when found in front of a class, it’s the educator’s duty to directly guide effective lea

Jul 30, 2015

No matter teachers’ past, they positively impact students every day.


Whatever their history, teachers are responsible for students’ futures. Although one may have planned to become a famous actor or a physician, when found in front of a class, it’s the educator’s duty to directly guide effective learning in the classroom.

Adam Zang is a reading coach at the T.G. Barr School in the Roosevelt School District. What one might not know about him is that he’s a former screenwriter turned elementary teacher.

After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in English from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, Zang attended Vancouver Film School and spent part of his career writing for television and film. After marrying and relocating, the Michigan native began a new chapter in the teaching profession, earning a master’s degree in elementary education from Arizona State University (ASU).

“Writing can be lonely. I was working as a screenwriter, but wanted to get into teaching to share my experiences with students and make an impact as an educator,” explained Zang.

On the contrary, Sarah Ravel, National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), has spent her entire career in education in the Balsz Elementary School District as a fourth- and sixth- grade teacher. Because her mother was a teacher, the ASU bachelor’s and master’s degree graduate said she spent many summers and afternoons in the classroom. Currently, Ravel serves as an instructional coach for Brunson-Lee Elementary School.

Both educators are members of the Valley of the Sun United Way Literacy Learning Cohort. Ravel and Zang explain that the opportunity to interact with professionals from varying districts has proven beneficial because it allows time to troubleshoot among peers.

“It helps us gain insight into common dilemmas that we face as educators, and provides a wealth of knowledge about what has worked in other districts and what has been a struggle,” Zang said.

Additionally, they claim attending Arizona K12 Center professional learning sessions have impacted their craft on a daily basis.

“I really appreciate being a part of the cohort. Anytime we invest time and energy in training and development opportunities, powerful learning experiences unfold,” said Ravel. “The Critical Friends training that was provided has been instrumental in changing the ways we host meetings in our school and district. It even spills into my conversations at home, making sure I’m asking good questions, paraphrasing, and giving individuals enough space to talk.”

Zang agreed that the Critical Friends training has been a monumental part of his cohort experience. Also, he admits attending both Doug Fisher events — Creating a Culture of Achievement and Close Reading and nvarchar(max) Dependent Questions —have impacted the way he works with teachers and students.

Alaina Adams, NBCT, is the Arizona K12 Center Project Director that oversees the Valley of the Sun United Way Literacy Learning Cohort. This energetic and passionate educator engages the cohort in collaborative activities, both in person and in a virtual environment. She identifies Ravel and Zang as outstanding cohort members because they represent the types of personalities that comprise the heart of the cohort: dedicated and dynamic.

“My interactions with Sarah and Adam are rooted in the only thing that matters in the teaching profession, and that is a positive impact on students and their learning. Whether it is analyzing one’s impact on student learning through National Board Certification, or working with community partners to obtain nametags for a student-ambassador program, it is evident that these educators are leaders in their connvarchar(max)s because they truly carry the needs of students with them in their role as literacy coaches. Students in the Balsz and Roosevelt school districts are well supported because coaches like Sarah and Adam support their teachers. It’s an honor to work in partnership with Valley of the Sun United Way — to be part of that work.”

For more information about learning-focused events at the Arizona K12 Center, visit: www.azk12.org/events/learning

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