What's your education story?

Turning her own learning disability into a teaching tool

PHOTO: Scott Elliott
Kate Stout is a fifth grade teacher at Riverside School in IPS, also known as School 44.

Chalkbeat journalists ask the people we come across in our work to tell us about their education stories and how learning shaped who they are today. Learn more about this series, and read other installments, here.

Kate Stout teaches fifth grade and is in her second year at Indianapolis Public School 44, also known as Riverside School. She is part of a team of teachers leading an effort to put into place at the school a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support system, which relies heavily on data to help teachers better track and understand both good and bad behavior by their students. We met her at the showcase for projects by Teach Plus fellows earlier this month.

Here’s her story:

As I child I had a learning disability. I lucked out that my mother was in education. She worked as a librarian and teacher’s aide in the school district. So she was always around and it worked out for me. She learned the laws. Then she would stand up for me and say, “No, my daughter needs this,” and “You’re not doing this correctly.” She took me to tutoring every morning before school and every morning in the summer.

I had an issue with comprehension. I could read things 100 times and have no idea what it said. She found the people I needed to help me get through that. She found services in the district. She found outside help. She sat down with me every night when I did my homework.

I ended up graduating with a Core 40 diploma from Munster High School. It’s a pretty well known school for education. From there I went to Indiana University in Bloomington. I struggled through with the learning disability, but I made it though my four years there. I used all the techniques I learned from all the different tutoring I had. I graduated on-time.

I student taught in Highland, Ind. Then I taught in Gary for two years. I was at Charter School of the Dunes. We had lots of students who had been expelled from Gary schools. The threw me in there as a first-year teacher in a fifth-grade classroom. But I made it though and loved every minute of it.

I moved here because all of my college roommates and my sister were here. I got hired on a Friday morning. I had to clean out my classroom (in Gary) that same day. I moved here on Monday and started teaching on Tuesday. It was a whirlwind.

My classroom is for English as a new language and special education. My kids know I have a learning disability too. They know I work with my coping skills, and I teach them my coping skills. They relate to me and I related to them. We work together.

What's Your Education Story?

Tips for teaching poetry in a women’s prison. ‘Remember, you are not allowed to hug anyone.’

PHOTO: Lwp Kommunikáció, Flickr CC
Inmates at the Indiana Women's Prison.

Adam Henze was one of seven educators who participated in a story slam sponsored by Chalkbeat, Teachers Lounge Indy, WFYI Public Media and the Indianapolis Public Library on Sept. 5. Every teacher shared stories about their challenges and triumphs in Circle City classrooms.

A poet and educator, Henze read a poem about a day in his life as a poetry instructor at the Indiana Women’s Prison. Henze recounts the painful struggle to reconcile his experiences with the crimes for which his students were serving time — some life sentences for murder

It’s a story full of darkness, but it also offers hope that, as Henze said, “we are the sum of the things that we have done, but we’re also the sum of the things that we have yet to do.”

Check out the video below to hear Henze’s story.

You can find more stories from educators, students and parents here.

It's Friday. Just show a video.

How a push to save some of Indiana’s oldest trees taught this class about the power of speaking out

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Students working at the School for Community Learning, a progressive Indianapolis private school that depends on vouchers.

Alayna Pierce was one of seven teachers who participated in story slam sponsored by Chalkbeat, Teachers Lounge Indy, WFYI Public Media and the Indianapolis Public Library on Sept. 5. Every teacher shared stories about their challenges and triumphs in Circle City classrooms.

Pierce’s story is a letter she wrote to her second and third grade students at the School for Community Learning, a private school in Indianapolis. In it, she recounts how they came together as a class and as a community to save some of the state’s oldest trees.

Check out the video below to hear Pierce’s story.

You can find more stories from educators, students and parents here.