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    And the winners of the 2024 Branching Minds MTSS Hero Award are...

    Noteworthy MTSS Hero Nominees


    Emily Bennett
    School Psychologist

    Bedford City Schools

    "Ms. Bennett co-leads our MTSS committee and is FANTASTIC at keeping us aligned with our purpose. To stay data-driven, identify that Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions are used with fidelity, and allow us to get students the Tier 3 services and evaluations that are needed without over-identifying or delaying needed interventions. Her compassion and instincts rival her knowledge and understanding of the MTSS process. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn from her!"

    Rebecca School


    Kimberly Bragg
    School Counselor

    Kearsarge Regional School District

    "Kim goes above and beyond to support students, their families and the people she works with. Students know that she believes in them and will support them and that she will also hold them accountable. She is constantly helping teachers better understand their students and then providing them with different supports to implement in and out of the classroom. With Kim, you always have a partner and you truly feel like you are never alone when working with her."

    — Leia Simoni


    Samantha Montgomery
    Math Interventionist & Instructional Coach

    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

    "Sam is our Math Interventionist and Instructional Coach for new teachers. She does not take this role for granted and expands her "sphere of influence" to our local school community. Sam shows up for students daily, responds and supports new teachers to problem-solve, be knowledgeable, and data-driven. I hope Sam gets the recognition she deserves this year and always! "

    Tom Luedloff


    Dr. Lisa Steffen
    Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning


    "Since joining the district as an Assistant Principal, I have seen an unwavering commitment to teaching and learning from Dr. Steffen that I have not seen elsewhere in over 30 years as an educator. As a district leader, Dr. Steffen made it a priority to evaluate the district’s MTSS process while involving stakeholders. She recognized the need for a comprehensive handbook and implementation of Branching Minds to support our teachers by giving them all the information they need to make data informed decisions about learning paths for each individual student. Both have been intentionally planned out with a layering training so staff members can learn, implement, and then support co-workers as they join the process. This was no small task, but Dr. Steffen’s dedication and enthusiasm, as well as her openness for feedback from those in roles with boots on the ground, has improved learning for all students across the district.  "

    — Katie Carden


    Kristin Reffert
    MTSS Coach

    Medina City School District

    "Kristin came into the MTSS coaching role this year, and her initiative and support in the building is unmatched. You can find her daily in classrooms modeling direct student support for teachers who may have difficulty in addressing high-needs students. She recognizes that MTSS is important for students and the adults she has to work with and has used differentiated strategies, even creating a "menu" of what she can provide during a coaching session. Personally, I am so appreciative of Kristin's addition to our team this past year. While I see the profound influence she has on staff and students, she has also improved my own practice as an administrator and school psychologist."

    — Ronda French


    Audrey Maselli

    Okeechobee County School District

    "I would like to recognize the incredible efforts of Audrey Maselli, who goes above and beyond as a teacher of intense behavior students. She understands that these students require specialized attention and support to thrive academically and emotionally. She invests time in understanding each student's triggers, strengths, and weaknesses, and adapts teaching methods accordingly. She also collaborates closely with parents, guardians, and other professionals involved in the students' lives. She understands the importance of a holistic approach to education and works together with others to provide consistent support and guidance."

    — Sarah Harrington


    Joyce Verde
    Dyslexia Interventionist & MTSS Campus Facilitator

    Beaumont ISD 

    "Ms. Verde wears two hats on her campus - she is the Dyslexia Interventionist, and this school year also became one of the very first MTSS Campus Facilitators! MTSS is brand new to our district, making it a big lift to create the systems and processes for its success. Ms. Joyce jumped right into her new role, eagerly learning all that was presented to her. She provides invaluable insight into the interworking of her campus and the district at large."

    — Emma McBride


    Dina Best

    Chicago SD 299

    "Ms Best has been THEE BEST in assisting the school with the Branching Minds platform. Last year was my first year and she did an awesome job training me. She has persuaded the staff to buy in and now our whole school successfully utilizes Branching Minds. She has been able to show the connection between the data produced on Branching Minds and how we are able to move forward as a cohesive team to achieve the best results for our students. Ms Best ROCKS Branching Minds here at Ninos Heroes! Kudos to Ms. Best!!!"

    — Onreesha Ammons


    Noemi Garcia
    RTI Coordinator

    Fort Sam Houston ISD

    "Noemi's initiative shines through, from helping students navigate challenges to proactively identifying opportunities for improvement in educational processes. She is responsible for not only overseeing and organizing the RTI and MTSS programs at Fort Sam Houston Elementary, but also played a critical role in establishing these programs for the district. Whether it's offering personalized guidance, implementing innovative teaching methods, or simply being a reliable source of encouragement, Noemi has consistently demonstrated a passion for the success and well-being of students and staff."

    — Robert Elizalde


    Donna Connell
    School Counselor

    Uvalde CISD

    "I nominate Donna Connell for going above and beyond to provide an outlet to children to learn social emotional management, love, care, compassion, empathy, etc. as well for working with children of Uvalde Elementary (Robb Elementary), providing a safe environment so they can acquire strategies to cope with their challenges, break the mental health stigma and educating parents and staff regarding preventive methods and early identification of needs. She makes a tremendous impact as she is always with a smile on her face, ready to do what is needed and motivate people to change this world one heart at it time. She is just an Amazing School Counselor."

    — Enedelia Soto-Quintanilla


    Mariela Perez-De-Carrero

    Bryan Independent School District

    "Mrs. De-Carrero is a phenomenal 1st grade teacher at Navarro Elementary. She is very kind, loving and patient. She is extremely responsible and always looks for ways to solve any issues that arise, instead of becoming defeated and giving up. Mrs. De-Carrero holds her students accountable to help them achieve the expectations they are capable of. She is very deserving of receiving recognition and is our special MTSS HERO!"

    — LaShwanique Hightower


    Damaris Cami
    Dual Language Teacher

    Chicago Public Schools

    "Damaris is an MTSS hero at Talcott, Network 6, and the district. She has demonstrated leadership and initiative in developing a high-caliber MTSS intervention program that not only has built teachers' capacity to carry out interventions effectively using Branching Minds, but has also created tracking tools that are raved about at the network MTSS meetings and the district. She is very supportive of teachers and their learning around interventions and meets one one-on-one to support them. She also has leveraged our tutors by creating an interventions schedule to allow them to support teachers in student interventions. 

    — Elva Bahena


    Nancy Obert

    Chicago Public Schools #299

    "There is not enough space to describe all the ways that Ms. Obert goes above and beyond to support our students and teachers! This year alone, she has led 97 meetings (58+ hours!) to support teachers in creating goals, intervention plans, and progress monitoring for students in Branching Minds. Her vision for MTSS at our school guides our work and has led to real movement for students. She is thoughtful, knowledgeable, and above all, kind and understanding. She meets teachers and kids where they are, and makes sure that all have what they need to be successful. We ❤️ Ms. Obert!"

    — Abigail George


    And so many more!

    We celebrate all the MTSS Heroes who go above and beyond to support students and make a lasting impact every day.