Making the Grade: Robyn Cornwell
Robyn Cornwell is the literacy resource teacher at Summit Middle School, where she teaches reading to sixth- through eighth-grade students and helps train fellow teachers in literacy instruction.Prior to her work in literacy, Cornwell taught special education for 17 years in Summit County and several schools in Virginia.Inspiration: At first, I really wanted to be an art therapist. After working with one at Virginia Treatment Center for Children, though, I found it a tad too Freudian and began working in an academic setting with the severely emotionally disabled children who had been hospitalized there. The rest is history. I went back for my masters and concentrated on working with students with special needs.
Motivation: Watching the excitement in kids’ eyes and listening to their animated speech as they read about and discuss something about which they feel strongly – like school uniforms, cell phone etiquette, or what’s going on in the Middle East. Reading should compel students to be actively involved in the learning process.Our democracy is based on having an informed electorate. Without strong readers, we become an uninformed electorate. Readers are leaders, and without strong leaders, our country declines. Philosophy: As teachers, we can’t possibly give students all the information they need to be successful in life, but we can give them the tools and strategies to access any information they need.All teachers, K-12, must be reading teachers. Not all students learn to read at the same time, but all students must be able to read to learn.
Modern challenges: So much to learn, teach, share, and do, but so little time in which to do it.Accomplishments: Raising a happy, healthy, capable child.Role models: Professionally, the school district literacy coach and several of the literacy resource teachers have provided tremendous direction and support as I embarked on this new avenue in education.On a personal level, my parents have always been my guiding role models. They have always shared and promoted their values of family, education, a strong work ethic and community service. They gave me the tools and strategies to achieve.
If I had $100,000: I would fund additional literacy personnel at the middle school and purchase engaging, curriculum-based, reading materials for ALL readers. In order to make more texts accessible to all students, I would also like to have more books on tape and have all books leveled.Extracurricular: Snowshoeing, hiking, reading and spending time with family and friends.My students would be surprised to know: I have had several near-death experiences: I was almost breakfast for a bear at Yellowstone National Park, almost a snack for a 14-foot shark in the waters off Jacksonville, Fla. and almost thrown from a runaway horse who took off with me on the beach in Ensenada, Mexico.
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