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    And the winners of the Branching Minds Spotlight Award are...

    What others said about their RTI/MTSS rockstars


    AnnaMarie Drymalla
    Reading Interventionist

    Bryan ISD

    "AnnaMarie has taken our entire RtI system under her wing. She coordinates all of the student groups and matches them to the appropriate interventions and staff members or tutors to lead those groups. She is responsible for all of that data, student movement, RtI meetings and any referral paperwork that may be deemed necessary. But mostly, kids LOVE going to her room for interventions. She has created a positive environment where kids love to go to. She has lots of incentives (including guinea pigs) and works to ensure the very best tutors are working with kids and treating them with love and respect. She goes out of her way to work with teachers to ensure our interventions are done correctly and that students don't fall through the cracks. She has coordinated Texas Reads One Book for 2 years and this has inspired kids to really be excited about reading. When I enter her room I see kids who are excited about reading and who are loved and are making great academic gains. I think AnnaMarie Drymalla should earn your spotlight award!"

    --Danielle Legg


    Trudy Bender
    District Behavior Intervention Coordinator

    Waco ISD

    "Trudy has been the driving force behind the positive changes here in Waco. Not just with behavior but the process and procedures laid out for MTSS, our work with Branching Minds, and it is her persistence that has continued great work here."

    --Pennie Graeber


    Trisha Senne
    MTSS Coordinator

    Community Consolidated School District 59

    "Trisha has been instrumental in providing the training, support, guidance, and leadership to ensure Branching MInds is a key driver in our MTSS process and structure by providing the access, management structure, and information needed to put support plans in place for kids."

    --Tom Luedloff


    Teri Clark
    Lead Elementary art teacher

    Bryan ISD

    "In a normal year Teri always goes above and beyond in her role. But this year especially she has done everything to make sure we are supported, heard, and taken care of as a team. She not only is lead elementary art teacher, but she is also leading the way for our Texas Elementary Art Meet for region 6. She is a fighter, a gem of a teacher, and an amazing example of a growing mindset classroom. She is truly most deserving of this award."

    --Courtney Oldenburg


    Stacy Holick

    Bryan ISD

    "Mrs. Holick always works hard to make sure our students have everything they need to be successful."

    --Diana Clipp


    Shelley Lumas

    East St. Louis

    "She is an extraordinary, dedicated, approachable teacher. The parents adore her and the students love her. Her parents have said things to her like 'We appreciate you', 'You help my kiddo understand this much better', and 'You are what my child needs'."

    --Annie Moore


    Shela Whitehead
    Assistant Principal

    Waco ISD

    "Ms. Whitehead has been amazing! She is never too busy to help you sort out a problem and is always willing to help!"

    --Georganna Coe


    Sarah Gatewood
    Academic Support Coordinator

    Marion County

    "She has been diligent in working with students, parents, and teachers on learning how to maneuver through Google classroom. She has made countless calls to parents and also helped tremendously with packet pick-up for students. She has made sure that any student whether virtual, quarantine, or on campus has had the assistance needed in order not to fall behind with course assignments. She has provided support for teachers who may have experienced issues concerning the technology or other resources that we have used. She is the leader of the MTSS team, a member of the leadership team, and she assists me with administrative tasks when needed."

    --Percynthia Newsome


    Sara Gillaspie

    Fort Worth ISD

    "Ms. Gillaspie and her entire staff utilize Branching Minds to ensure that all students are moving forward academically and behaviorally. Additionally, she and Constance Johnson (school counselor) presented how they use the tool to eleven other principals in our district."

    --Jill Balzer


    Nicole Liebau
    Campus Instructional Coach

    Boerne ISD

    "Mrs. Liebau has been instrumental in helping our campus implement Branching Minds. She works with teachers, students, and campus leaders to become more familiar with the MTSS process and helps all navigate the program. It has led to our teachers becoming more diligent with intervention groups and knowing where to specifically target student needs. Nicole does trainings and sits 1:1 with staff to assist. She takes time to get to know all students and their needs. She does all of this patiently and with a never-ending smile on her face. She truly wants to see all staff and students be successful and is a huge asset to education."

    --Kimberly Simmons


    Natalie Hoss
    SPED Teacher

    Evanston/Skokie School District 65

    "Natalie has supported all students in our class with loving accountability--especially during the pandemic and remote learning. She works hard at elevating and actualizing the greatness of our students who are People of Color, and she really thinks about who the students are and what they need. Often with a baby on her knee (daycare is closed because of COVID), Natalie leads students to be successful and confident academically and as people navigating the world. Supporting ambitious IEP goals through a computer sounds like an impossible task, but Natalie is unphased. She continues to focus on students' growth toward achieving these goals. She inspires all students in our class to know better and do better. She inspires me to know better and do better too."

    --Steve Yasukawa


    Abbey Stodghill
    1st grade teacher

    Forth Worth

    "This is our first year using BM, and she has jumped in, used the program, and helped get others on track to make this a successful year for all students."

    --Itzia Oscos


    Mrs. Lopez
    SPED clerk

    San Antonio ISD

    "She is the soul of the school and her kindness is great for anyone. Have a good day."

    --Benjamin Ruiz Sancho


    Melissa Wilke
    Resource Instructional Coach

    Community Consolidated School District 59

    "She is always looking for ways to support teachers and staff. She has taught others how to use Branching Minds in order to facilitate data-driven decisions. This has really helped staff determine the needs of our students and keep track of progress. Melissa has served as our instructional coach, but also as our math interventionist until the position was filled. She often goes into classrooms to provide interventions and support while our district transitioned into hybrid learning. Melissa goes above and beyond to help our teachers and first year professionals during this time. We appreciate you Melissa!!"

    --Angelica Martinez


    Melissa Norfleet
    3rd grade teacher

    East St. Louis

    "She is a virtual teacher superstar! Melissa has cultivated great relationships with not only her students, but their parents as well. She is very organized and has developed an effective way to complete daily check ins with the family. Obviously, her method is effective because she averages 98% attendance daily during this challenging time of remote learning. I commend her for doing such an awesome job."

    --Vera Edwards


    Melissa Appleton
    Reading Intervention Teacher and MTSS team leader

    East St. Louis

    "Melissa works diligently alongside first to third grade teachers assisting them with small group reading instruction. She services a total of 15 students. In her small group classes, she provides tier 3 students with strategies and additional practice needed to build a strong reading foundation as well as the skills necessary to become fluent readers. In addition to her intervention duties, Mrs. Appleton serves as chair for our school's MTSS team. Even though remote learning has presented its own challenges for the MTSS team, they have successfully converted the entire process, paperwork, and data compilation into electronic form. Mrs. Appleton and the MTSS team meet once a month to discuss tier 3 students in need of additional interventions. She and the MTSS team continue to engage the parents during this process by scheduling monthly parent meetings as necessary. To date, she and the MTSS team have submitted three Response To Intervention packages electronically and currently have one in the process of being completed. Mrs. Appleton is taking the initiative of leading our MTSS team in professional development and additional training as well by using the Branching Minds software provided by the district to keep all of the necessary electronic paperwork in one central location. We are truly thankful for her diligence in making sure that not only our students continue to thrive during remote learning, but our MTSS process stays relevant as well. She truly rocks!"

    --Vera Edwards


    Melanie Stinnett
    Guidance Counselor

    Okeechobee CSD

    "Mrs. Stinnett has taken the lead in our MTSS process and our new journey into Branching Minds as we just started this year. Mrs. Stinnett has not once complained or seemed frustrated with taking on the lead for our commencement in Branching Minds this year. I have been on the platform a few times and it can be overwhelming. Mrs. Stinnett has done a marvelous job not only inputting plans for our students in need but creating many different remediation groups and assigning appropriate staff including herself to these groups. Mrs. Stinnett is our hero in this new journey with Branching Minds..........she has made this process come along smoothly. I know our team still has great things to learn within Branching Minds and we will accomplish them together!!"

    --Maria Medrano


    Matt Legg
    Elementary Math Interventionist

    Community Consolidated School District 59

    "Matt has gone above and beyond this year to not only keep his students engaged in his small group interventions remotely, but also keep his intervention planning and evaluation data-based. He has showcased how he's used Branching Minds to help keep all team members updated with students' progress, even when they can't meet together as a team in person. We have lots to celebrate related to his students' progress."

    --Trisha Senne


    Mary Elmshaeuser
    6th grade literacy teacher

    North Platte School District

    "She has been diligent with helping our students to narrow the gap from any school opportunities that were missed last year. She has been teaching both online and in the classroom since August, always putting the needs of our students first. She utilizes the data from Branching Minds to make informed interventions for students by leveraging her strengths as an English expert all while remaining resilient and positive with the unique obstacles that have been thrown our way this year. She meets each student where they are and pushes them to be their best. She is a leader in our building. Thank you Mary for your years of service and commitment to the students of NPPSD even in your LAST year before retirement! You have left an amazing legacy!"

    --Audri Pelton-Johnson


    Marie Korumnus
    Learning Behavior Specialist

    Community Consolidated School District 59

    "Mrs. Korumnus is a very caring teacher. She is concerned about her students, and does a great job providing service for them. They can always count on her for help and assistance. There are many needy kids who find Mrs. Korumnus's office a safe and warm place. Over the last decade I shared many students with Mrs. Korumnus, and we enjoyed watching them become very successful. Mrs. Korumnus sure makes a big difference in their lives."

    --Mark Kadzielawa


    Luz Lopez
    Campus Small Group Instructionalist

    Fort Worth ISD

    "Ms. Lopez takes advantage of my Branching Minds Open Lab via Zoom to ask questions, learn and practice using Branching Minds. She uses Branching Minds to document her group instruction for students at Luella Merrett. Her background with Reading Recovery helps her think through the documentation processes. She has learned how to Add a Group, Add Goals & Progress Monitor, and Add Interventions & Accommodations in Branching Minds. More importantly, Lopez makes efforts to enter accurate Progress Monitor data."

    --Carol Delaughter


    Lindsey Buff
    Math Teacher

    San Antonio ISD

    "Ms. Buff has taken so much initiative in accepting the Branching Minds platform and genuinely integrating it into her math department PLCs in order to gather, organize, and analyze student performance and progress data to better support students. She has led her team through a smooth integration of Branching Minds, teaching them how to pull useful reports, document parent and family contact, and enter interventions and goal updates. She is so committed to her students and to refining her practice, and she utilizes Branching Minds to both of those ends. I can think of no teacher better suited to win this award!"

    --Cassandra Vara


    Lesaundra Blakley
    Math Interventionist

    East St. Louis

    "Ms. Blakley is the epitome of "e v e r y t h i n g." She has never hesitated to drop everything to help students, teachers, and administration. This past year, she was my mentor teacher during my residency and OMG - I hope that I will be as amazing as her one day! She is in almost every single meeting and is on [almost] every single team that we have at the school. (We literally could not survive without her). She is thorough and thoughtful and has eloquently led the Branching Minds Team within our school - all virtually. I could go on for days about how Ms. Blakley deserves everything great this world has to offer."

    --Phylisia Callahan-Halusan


    Lauren Coronado
    SPED Teacher

    San Antonio ISD

    "Ms. Coronado has excelled in her first year in an already unprecedented time. There is no better way to describe her work than the fact that there is nothing she will not do for her students. She is so positive and upbeat and a joy to be around. I truly hope you consider her as I feel she really deserves it."

    --Monica Garcia


    Laura Pittman
    5th grade teacher

    Wilson County School District

    "Joining Laura's virtual classroom is very much like walking into her physical classroom at the school. Her ability to maintain high expectations of her students, even while they are at home, is unparalleled. Her traditional teaching style, coupled with her content knowledge and presence, results in student engagement and tremendous growth and achievement. Laura advocates for every one of her students, goes out of her way to maintain constant communication with their families, and seeks guidance from specialists who can help her with interventions when necessary. She has embraced the challenges of this year, and truly kept students at the forefront of her priorities."



    Kim Gomez
    Instructional Coach

    Boerne ISD

    "Kim is so very approachable, knowledgeable, and helpful in every way. She works hard to help teachers be able to be successful in areas they may be struggling with, such as technology and working with kids that are also struggling. She always has an answer, and if she doesn't, she will find one and get back to you with the help you need."

    --Karen Aitken


    Kim Cardwell
    6th grade Reading Teacher

    Gering Public Schools

    "Kim is willing to try new interventions and experiment with Branching Minds for our school."

    --Julie Siebke


    Kim Brinkman
    Literacy Interventionist and RTI building coordinator

    Arlington Heights

    "Kim goes above and beyond when it comes to data and ensuring that our grade level teams review the progress or lack of progress of each student in our building of over 600 students. We have "data day" three times a year and Kim is instrumental in gathering and analyzing our school data. Kim has been in this role for years and knows all of the ins and outs of our RTI process. Kim goes to bat for students that need intervention and changes her schedule to meet the needs of these students. Kim collaborates with all grade-level teams and devotes her time to making a difference in the lives of students at our school. Her knowledge of literacy is unparalleled and her dedication to our RTI team and process is unmatched."

    --Erin Davis


    Kia Eiland
    1st grade teacher

    East St Louis

    "I am nominating Ms. Eiland because she has taken the initiative to learn this program to be able to teach others how to use it for the benefit of themselves and their students."

    --Tryphena Cason


    Kelly Hyland
    AIS Reading Teacher

    Hauppauge School District

    "Kelly has participated in Branching Minds training since the platform first came to our district. She then, on her own time, turnkeys the training for those teachers who are interested. She has been especially instrumental in helping teachers set goals in Branching Minds. She regularly makes herself available to help teachers create intervention plans, connect goals with STAR, and check off their "to-do" lists. Kelly is an invaluable resource for our teachers and I am so thankful to have her as a member of our team. She has assisted myself on many occasions as well! Kelly is a huge advocate for Branching Minds and that passion translates to the work our teachers are doing within the platform. I attribute much of our success with Branching Minds to her."

    --Kristen Reingold


    Kathy Cornett
    Assistant Principal

    Boerne ISD

    "Boerne High School recently transitioned to Branching Minds and Kathy took the lead on our campus. Kathy has worked many hours learning Branching Minds, how to input data, how to use the program to support students and how to train our teachers and staff. Kathy does everything with 110% effort and this is no different. With Kathy’s lead, BHS will be using Branching Minds as an integral part of our intervention program."

    --Christine Poulis


    Karen Luna
    EC Blended Teacher

    East St. Louis

    "Karen is a devoted and tireless worker. She gives her all to her students and is always volunteering to help make our school a better place. She is on a new team to help incorporate a new MTSS system to help streamline the referral process and get more of our early childhood students identified with needs sooner."

    --Jennifer Rayson


    Jimmy Felty
    District Technology Director

    Butler County

    "Mr. Felty has worked tirelessly with Branching Minds to get our system set up and ready to roll out to our leadership team and on to our teachers."

    --Stoye Young


    Jennifer Weston
    ELA SPED Education / MTSS case manager

    San Antonio ISD

    "This woman never gets any recognition, she has helped students achieve goals both behavioral and education wise. She is the unsung hero at our school here at Poe. She is the reason why the kids are thriving and coming back for more. Please accept my nomination as one that is well deserved and well appreciated by the folks here on campus at Poe."

    --Lauren Rodriguez


    Jenna Landry and Mufaz Sadoun

    Richardson ISD

    "These Texan educators have embraced Branching Minds since day one. We got this tool in late 2020 and were trained to replace our RTI documentation process. I love it though. It is an online version of documentation where it follows the child. Jenna Landry, 5th grade Reading and Writing teacher, uses it, has tracked her student growth and intervention, and was able to communicate with a targeted family with Ms. Sadoun's ESL support to get them the interventions discussed across 4 grade levels. I witness these fine teachers repeatedly meeting the students at their interest level and growing their skills."

    --Jullie Teffera


    Jamie Tatman
    4th grade teacher

    North Platte School District

    "Jamie is an awesome team player who always puts her students first and goes above and beyond to help others."

    --Michael Mcguire


    Jacquiline DiNatale
    Reading Specialist

    District 97 - Oak Park

    "I am nominating Mrs. DiNatale because even through the pandemic she has kept her reading groups front and center. Her students have demonstrated growth and many have even graduated from her program. She is consistent with her interventions, progress monitoring, and is a key factor in reading success for struggling readers at our school."

    --Martha Polley


    Jacqueline Brantley
    4th grade teacher

    San Antonio ISD

    "Mrs. Brantley is on task with her Branching Minds data, assessments, and evidence. She uses this platform to guide and plan her instruction, especially to intervene and plan her small group instruction. She does all of this in a timely manner (following her plans) and with no reminders from admin."

    --Marisol Reyes


    Glenda Jarriel
    Dean of Students

    Okeechobee CSD

    "I'm nominating Mrs. Jarriel for this award because of how tirelessly she works to make sure that our students are safe both physically and emotionally. She consistently goes above and beyond her duty of administering discipline. She also plays the role of counselor, crisis interventionist, and "mother" to countless middle school children every day in our community. We are a Title I school, but Mrs. Jarriel works very hard to bridge that socio-economic gap."

    --Carlos Zerquera


    Gerald Gray

    East St. Louis

    "When I was tapped on the shoulder to lead the RTI/MTSS initiative at the high school, Mr. Gray was very resourceful in gathering data and navigating through Branching Minds. He took the lead on helping the team create intervention plans for students and identifying tier 3 students that would benefit from the Branching Minds resources. He also had input into how the school would implement Branching Minds building wide. He brings past knowledge about MTSS and collaboration to the team."

    --Sharif Ford


    Georgette Magness
    RTI Coordinator/ School Counselor

    Greene County SD

    "Georgette has worked positively with all staff to make sure they understand HOW to use Branching Minds, WHY it is important to use Branching Minds, and has held staff ACCOUNTABLE for using Branching Minds. I have watched as she patiently assists individual teachers in order that they gain confidence and that they are consistently using Branching Minds as a valuable intervention resource and data tracking tool."

    --Natasha Cannon


    Elizabeth Fox
    Reading coach

    Okeechobee CSD

    "She has consistently and constantly helped teachers to be successful in the program and shown support when the frustration set in. She is absolutely fantastic and should be rewarded for everything she has done in our school to help get this up and going."

    --Gena Gray-Lagos


    Dr. Thelma Jackson

    Okeechobee CSD

    "Dr. Jackson made Branching Minds part of her school's facilitation immediately, and she immersed her staff into learning the platform and organizing student plans for success. She is definitely a district Branching Minds Champion!"

    --Katharine Williams


    Dr. Angela Watson

    Boerne ISD

    "Dr. Watson was rather excited with the Branching Minds implementation this year and has taken it upon herself to learn the platform and train her staff on its usage. She continues to be a strong advocate for the program not only for her campus but at the district level as well. Other principals refer to her when they have questions and when needing ideas on how to increase usage."

    --Larissa Flores


    Dorothy Berriman
    Literacy Interventionist

    Community Consolidated School District 59

    "She deserves the award because she successfully manages data for over 80 students who are in literacy interventions throughout our building. She also helps train teachers who are using BrM for the first time both in our building and throughout the district. Dorothy goes above and beyond in her role and believes in the power of student growth and data tracking to inform instruction."

    --Diana Kaiser


    Deborah Gil
    Instructional Assistant

    San Antonio ISD

    "In my first year at Japhet Academy as a Sped teacher, I have noticed how passionate and loving Ms. Gil is to the students. The equality is amazing, and she is a great role model to many. She has lots of experience in attending to the students' needs and she steps up with enthusiasm in caring about her position and motivating a positive mentality to our students in succeeding daily. I feel she is very deserving of this reward. I know there may be many leaders and teachers that normally get nominated. In this case, after my observations of many I've worked with I truly feel Ms. Deborah Gil stands out amongst the rest and it would be an honor that she be given this opportunity as it too will motivate the understanding that all Instructional Assistants across the board at SAISD are reachable and recognizable. GO SAISD!"

    --Glandy Guzman


    Crystal Romero
    3rd grade dual language teacher

    Fort Worth ISD

    "When we went fully virtual because of the lockdown, Ms. Romero served food every day for our families. She found donations and used her own money to do so. It was a very amazing thing she did for our community."

    --Joanna Torres-Tavarez


    Amber Acuna
    SS Teacher

    San Antonio ISD

    "Ms. Acuna is involved in helping students repair credit. Some of her duties (outside of teaching her own students) include: making calls and offering tech support for the online program Edgenuity, recruitment, monitoring/adjusting, and contacting the counselor of record and teacher of record for change of grade. 52 students were able to recover a half credit or failing grade due to this program. In previous years, we have had hundreds of students recovering credits! She's a great asset at our school and should be recognized for all her hard work!"

    --Mari Brown


    Amanda Pelletier
    Science Department Chair

    Boerne ISD

    "Branching Minds was a new initiative for Boerne ISD this year and Amanda embraced it rather quickly especially for a secondary level teacher. She has been a true leader for her department and her campus by assisting all teachers at CHS to implement this new platform and has been an integral part of the CHS and BISD MTSS team."

    --Larissa Flores


    Amanda Pelletier

    Boerne ISD

    "This is a bit odd… I’d really like to nominate myself. I know that you do not know me, but please understand, I am NOT one that “toots my own horn”. In this matter though, toot-toot! I have conducted 5 different Branching Minds trainings for my campus. None of these are required by the terms of my teaching contract. Every Tuesday for the last three weeks, I have had an open door session from 4:15-5:15 to help teachers use and create entries in Branching Minds. I help them log communication, create intervention groups and log tasks in a helpful, no pressure and free-flowing chocolate candy environment. Teachers are working SO HARD right now and sometimes “one more new thing” is one thing too many. If someone familiarizes themselves with the product and helps teach others, that is such a wonderful boon to teachers. Just knowing there is someone to go to on campus to help you when you hit a snag is a blessing. I see the value in Branching Minds as a way to track data and help students. I’ve already used the data in ways I couldn’t have prior to implementing Branching Minds. I really believe in the product and that is why I’ve worked so hard to help promote it on my campus and make it easy for staff members to use. Again… no one told me to do this or required me to do this. I saw a need for our campus and took it upon myself to do this."

    --Amanda Pelletier


    Amanda Condon
    Title Teacher

    North Platte School District

    "Amanda Condon is a part of the MTSS process. She provides interventions with students who qualify for Title services. She has a huge role in creating groups, interpreting data, and creating goals on Branching Minds. Regular ed teachers rely on Mrs. Condon in a huge way! She has helped train us on how to manage and navigate Branching Minds."

    --Stevie Reed


    MTSS Team at Katie Wright

    East St. Louis

    "This team is forging ahead with implementing Branching Minds and believes in the power of Branching Minds to transform their MTSS practice. Kudo's to the entire team!"

    --Susan Long


    Also nominated...

    Angela Bertling SAILS teacher, Bryan ISD. -- Cindy Perdomo Chavarro

    Amy Thomman Principal, Bryan ISD. -- Carmen Garcia

    Amy Hill Assistant Principal, Clarke County. --  Tarka Dillard

    Amelia Cortes Rangel Principal, Fort Worth. -- Alison Smith

    George Davis Behavior Intervention Specialist, Waco ISD. -- Robert Glynn

    Jennifer Splichal Special Services Director, Mitchell --  Kirk Kuxhausen

    Rebecca Wilson Music Teacher, Fort Worth -- Shauna Cass

    Nithia Hartfield Waco ISD -- Muriel Phillips

    Cynthia Garcia --  Mandi Murphy

    Dr. Kwesi Yankey Dr. --Kwesi Yankey