Submitted by Rochester School District
“Who let the dogs out? Who? Who? Who? Who? Who?” Using that catchy tune to teach a struggling student all the letters of the alphabet, and each of their sounds, was the brainchild of Kassie MacColl, an education assistant at Rochester Primary School (RPS). Kassie was chosen as the 2016 Capital Region ESD 113’s Classified School Employee of the Year.
Another student came to Kassie not knowing how many fingers she had on both hands. Kassie’s efforts helped bring the student’s timed math comprehension score from a total of 5 in October to a perfect 28 out of 28 in May.
Kassie’s success as an educator comes from her knack for connecting with students and finding a way to make lessons work for them. “By employing an alternative strategy designed for the learning style of each specific student, learning becomes fun rather than boring and hard,” she said.
Candace Robinson, the second grade teacher at RPS, said Kassie shows she cares for the students and boosts their confidence, while maintaining authority that defines boundaries and keeps students on track. “The respectful way she interacts with students is inspiring,” shared Candace.
Second grade special education teacher, Brittny Zepp added, “Kassie continually goes above and beyond her job duties to help make a better experience for all students.”
Kassie not only makes things easier for her students, but also for her teaching team. As an example, she obtained an emergency substitute certificate in order to step in and teach when a substitute was needed on short notice. “Now, I am prepared to teach in my normal setting, but also ready to immediately teach any class from preschool through second grade.”
Brittny is impressed with Kassie’s take-charge attitude in these emergency situations with minimal or no lesson plans to follow. “Mrs. MacColl has walked into the classrooms with a moment’s notice, assessed what needed to be done and completed the day with ease!”
In nominating her, every one of her colleagues mentioned that willingness to jump in and get the job done, even taking on a leadership role for the always-changing team of educational assistants.
“Kassie handles the many demands and high stress of a special education program with patience and professionalism,” said Laura Staley, the school district’s Director of Special Services and Assessment. “She is a shining light at Rochester Primary School.”
The next step in Kassie’s award journey is consideration for the Washington State Classified Employee of the Year. As part of that process, she will be honored at a reception at OSPI, as well as at a second reception for exceptional educators held at the Governor’s mansion.
Rochester School District provides rigorous academic programs to more than 2,200 students, preparing them for lifelong learning, rewarding careers and productive citizenship. The district’s students and staff have received numerous state awards, including being named a 2013 and 2014 Washington State “School of Distinction,” and recently the #1 school district for teacher support in all of Washington.