Staff Highlights: Katie Wright
Walking Proud Where the Sidewalk Never Ends
From the journal of: Katie Wright
Position: Elementary Instructional Coach
Years in the Agora family: Ten
Home base: West Norriton, PA
Although she didn’t realize it at the time, it is quite telling that Where the Sidewalk Ends was one of Katie Wright’s favorite childhood books—one she read over and over with her mother and on her own. A book of poetry that explores many common concerns kids have and invites them to imagine and be inspired by what their world could be, Where the Sidewalk Ends in many ways embodies Katie’s philosophy, approach, accomplishments and ongoing goals as an Agora Elementary Instructional Coach. Shel Silverstein’s poetic influences aside, for as long as she can remember, Katie always wanted to be a teacher. She was influenced by her parents and grew up in a home that that valued education and nurtured each family member’s potential for learning and growing. Katie was inspired by many warm-hearted teachers who instilled in her a love for education and drive to make the quest for learning a continual lifelong journey. She also specifically acknowledges her kindergarten teacher, Ms. Beana.
“She was a good teacher and cared about you,” said Katie. “And she made the entire year fun—she showed us that school was fun and a nice place to be. I remember wanting very much to be like her.”
From very early on, and to this day, Katie has always felt fortunate that she received a great all-around education. This has been a gift she commits to paying forward in ways that allow her to impact as many lives of students, families and colleagues as she can.
The journey to Agora
After graduating from Haverford High School, Katie went to Cabrini College, where she got her certifications in education and early childhood education, as well as her master’s degree. While an undergrad, she worked at board-certified daycare centers getting hands on experience with early childhood educational development. Upon graduation, Katie worked in a Kindergarten classroom before switching careers altogether and trying her hand at insurance. It wasn’t long before her love of teaching had her back as a long-term sub and then finally settling at her home for the last decade, Agora.
“That final stage before entering first grade is so important to growth. When they have those aha-moments learning to read and do math—it touches your heart seeing them learn and grow. Plus, the older students are, the more you can interact and have opportunities to be creative as a teacher. This first group of students I taught inspired me to continue my career in elementary school.”
Although the cyber school process was new—and at times uncertain—territory for Katie, she took it all on as a powerful learning opportunity. Every step of the way, Katie immersed herself in the cyber experience, including its opportunities, challenges and benefits, proving once again she was on a never-ending journey of education and growth for her, personally, as well as for Agora’s students.
“I remember thinking this could be something that changes my life. So, I took the position. That first year I was pleasantly surprised how connected I was with students and families. I found the experience far more profound and powerful. I was teaching in their homes. It was an exciting time for me to learn and be part of this new way of education.”
Being the difference
During her three years as a K-2 instructor, Katie gained a deep understanding of—and appreciation for—the strategies and commitments Agora employs to engage families and bring students into an inclusive and opportunity-laden classroom community. She observed that Agora does this in ways others—including brick and mortar schools—do not. This understanding, coupled with the life-event of achieving her master’s degree, solidified for Katie where and how she would make her biggest impact at Agora, on education and in the lives of the students and families in our community.
“As soon as I got my master’s, I began to dive into the thoughts of what it would look like to take on more leadership. I was driven to do this so I could reach a span of students beyond those in one classroom. I realized I could impact an entire school of students and help change their lives.”
As it so happens, Agora had such a leadership opening—that of Elementary Instructional Coach, which required a master’s degree. This is where Katie’s legacy of “being the difference” began and continues to grow to this day.
“What an opportunity. In this position, my role changed from teaching students to coaching teachers. Every day I consider what my impact on students will be through this coaching dynamic. My role is to support teachers to help support the wider student population. Eight years later and this responsibility continues to excite me—it continues to open doors for me, too, to continue to learn and shift mindset.”
Every day, the Agora community experiences the impact of Katie’s commitment to a continuum of education and growth for students, families, and teachers. She coaches teachers to focus simultaneously on where students are, where they’ve been, and where they are going. She makes sure they use all the resources available from Agora and the cyber platform. She ensures constant focus on research-based strategies that meet students’ needs, promote individual growth, and keep Agora at the front of the types of innovative learning strategies that build futures.
The next chapter
Katie’s next chapter at Agora very well could be the sequel to her favorite childhood book—this time titled, Where the Sidewalk Never Ends. Katie’s vision is to create—through her coaching of teachers, interactions with students and responsibility in helping shape the strategies of Agora—a communitywide understanding of education as a lifelong, exciting journey that is built step by step through the things we learn in the classroom, in life and through the connections we make. She will do this by continuing to help build inspiring curricula as well as help ensure the personalized education that puts every child on an even playing field and gives them the tools to imagine, embrace and pursue the future that leads to lifelong fulfillment. She will do this by living up to Agora’s commitment to supporting every staff member to be masters in their field and bring their learning back to the classroom. Lastly, she will do this by being a voice for the importance of having choice in one’s education.
“It is a privilege to work in a school of choice. Our families come to us because they choose this education over brick and mortar for any number of reasons—medical issues, safety, opportunity. They choose us, and we have a responsibility to make sure they appreciate that choice every day. The life of a child is a beautiful one to be around. And when those students come back to you years later and share their new accomplishments, you truly realize the impact you make.”