Rubino Academy’s Teacher of the Year Makes a Difference in Students’ Lives
When Rubino Academy teacher, Allyson Coryell, learned she had been selected as the school’s teacher of the year, she said the honor humbled her.
“I’ve only been teaching here for a year, and it was something I didn’t expect,” she said. Teachers are nominated for teacher of the year based on their formal classroom observation. That includes an assessment from Camelot’s Chief Academic Officer Nilsa Gonzales, who during quality control visits to schools, sits in on classes taught by teacher of the year nominees. On the day she was observed, Coryell stated she’d taught a great class that day. It was a lesson in which her students participated in a group activity in collaboration with other student groups. “I was surprised when I was nominated, and when I learned I’d been chosen, it was very humbling for me and very exciting!”
Coryell graduated from Rider University, a private university in Lawrence Township, New Jersey. She majored in secondary education and English. Living near Camelot Education’s Rubino Academy, she had an opportunity to observe its students and thought a career at Rubino would be very rewarding.
“When I found out they were hiring, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. I knew it was going to be challenging, but I knew I could make a difference in the lives of my students,” she said.
Rubino Academy is a school-of-choice for students attending school districts in Mercer County, New Jersey, who were not finding success at their previous high school. Rubino Academy provides a comprehensive high school program for students in grades 9-12, that supports academic remediation and helps them get back on track for promotion and graduation.
At Rubino Academy, administration, faculty, and staff have one objective: student success. The instructional, behavioral, and administrative teams all work hand-in-hand to ensure each student succeeds. Assistant Principal Jennifer Giordano hosts weekly planning sessions where all the teams collaborate about students’ progress and adjust plans as needed.
Giordano said Coryell is a real go-getter.
“She displayed exceptional leadership qualities from the beginning,” Giordano said. “She was able to fit right into Camelot’s methodology of teaching; which involves communicating on a regular basis with the parents of our students. Some of our students have to miss class occasionally due to personal matters, and our approach to teaching isn’t like what you’d see in a traditional public school.”
For Coryell, a typical day begins with interactive sessions for students – trying to get them to open up about what’s going on in their lives or what might have happened since their last day of class. Then the staff and students break up into class sessions.
“Lunch period is my favorite time with the students,” Coryell said. “I think that’s when they’re most inclined to open up and talk with you. I remember one student in particular. She came to us and started out great. Over time though, she started to regress, saying the structure, classes and expectations of Rubino Academy were too tough for her to continue. It wasn’t easy to get her to turn around. I called her home often. I kept at her though; letting her know how important this work was for her and that she could do it. At the beginning of the fourth marking period, she was coming to school on a regular basis, and she really worked hard. I was so excited when I saw her graduate. I was so proud of her. That’s why we do what we do at Rubino Academy; seeing the light turn on in the eyes of our students. That moment when they realize what they’re capable of. That’s what makes this work so worthwhile.”
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