Kate Sommerville is in her 16th year of teaching. She received her undergraduate degrees in elementary and special education from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2000. In 2007, she received her Master’s Degree in Education in Professional Development from the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse. Kate begun her teaching career in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, but moved back to the Milwaukee area after one year. Kate has spent the last 15 years of her career teaching fourth and fifth grade at Swanson Elementary School in the Elmbrook School District. Kate is passionate about bringing her creativity and enthusiasm into the classroom. Keeping the student at the center of all learning is a daily goal for Kate in her personalized learning environment. Teaching and collaboration with her colleagues and students has allowed her to continue to grow and learn everyday. Kate lives in Bayview, Wisconsin with her husband, Jim, and her two children, Cole and Piper.
Angela Patterson is in her 15th year of teaching. She taught in the Waukesha School District for 11 years, and is in her 4th year at Swanson. She received her undergraduate degree in elementary education and her Master’s Degree in special education, both from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 2014, she also completed the School Leadership program through Carroll University. She is passionate about putting her students first, personalized learning, collaborating with and learning from students and peers, and also supporting the education work of others. She lives in Brookfield with her husband, Ronn, and their two beautiful boys, Owen and Eamon.
GETTING TO KNOW KATE AND ANGELA
Looking back at your career, what is one thing that a parent, student or peer has said makes you unique as a teacher?
Angela: We are a team, we function as a well oiled machine with our students and we really support each other.
Kate: Angela and myself feed off of each other. When we work as a team, we have the ability to make our classroom fun and engaging.
When and why did you decide to become a teacher?
Kate: As a child, I struggled through school so it wasn’t until college when I developed my love for learning.
Angela: From playing school and enjoying my time in school I knew I wanted to be a teacher growing up.
What about teaching gives you the greatest fulfillment?
Relationship building on a variety of levels including each other, our colleagues and our students.
Please share with us a story of a time when you got to know a student beyond their academic performance where you think you made a significant impact in their life.
In our second year we had a student who always came into our classroom during his lunch time. After learning more about his lunch time struggles, we were able to help and support him through his struggles.
PERSONALIZED LEARNING JOURNEY
What is it about the personalized learning pedagogy you believe will have the greatest impact on education as we know it today?
This pedagogy provides our students a high level of confidence, independence skills which will stay with them forever so they can take charge of their learning and passions.
Can you tell us a story of a time that you persevered through a then-challenging situation which now serves as a great life lesson?
We were the first in our district to work as a team, we were constantly questioned about our actions. We were doing things differently and people did not understand why. Instead of taking it personally we really leaned on each other to create our model.
SECRETS TO SUCCESS
What one strategy would you suggest teachers in personalized learning environments apply every day that would result in powerful outcomes?
Angela: You have to be flexible, fluid, and ready to live in the moment. We are the supporter of their learning.
Kate: We reflect on our teaching and constantly look for ways to improve what we have done.
Imagine you are standing in front of a room full of educators – just like you when you started your personalized learning journey. They too have fears, worries and doubts as they struggle to find their footing. What are one to two key things they should focus on to ensure success?
Those feelings are all real, you just become more comfortable with those worries. Start small and take baby steps. Lean on mentors and supports to learn from one another.
Would you please share with our audience your “i am ME.” statements?
Kate: i am ambitious. i am committed. i am always growing in learning.
Angela: i am student centered. i am still learning. i am really proud to be doing this work.
CONNECTING WITH KATE AND ANGELA