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Quest Educator Leads with Core Values

Teachers are leaders of the classroom, helping students gain skills needed to take ownership of their education, but teachers are much more than that. They can be leaders outside of the classroom, too.
 
Meet Jodi Suiter, Quest Charter Academy kindergarten educator. She has been with the school since they opened 12 years ago, which has given her time to learn what works in the classroom and what doesn’t. Now she is able to share that knowledge with other teachers as a New Teacher Coach.
 

In this role, Ms. Suiter meets with first-year teachers in her school to provide additional support. Her dedication is evident as she meets with mentees during her planning time, before or after school, or whenever their schedules align.
 
She remembers the struggles she faced during her student teaching and first year, which motivates her to help others succeed. She is humble even as an effective mentor because she believes she learns new things from all teachers, even new ones.
 
“I am passionate about helping new teachers because I know how it feels to come right out of college and be thrown into a classroom with very little experience,” said Ms. Suiter. “I have now been teaching for 15 years and love sharing all my ideas and experience with new and eager educators.”
 
Ms. Suiter believes in infusing personal core values into mentoring new teachers. This is something she learned from Jessica Angel, manager of new teacher development at National Heritage Academies (NHA), during the 2019-20 school year when she represented her school as a New Teacher Coach, a program that differed from the traditional mentoring program Quest has used in the past.
 


“New teachers need to build emotional resiliency to productively respond to the many emotions they face day to day and throughout their first year,” said Angle. “As a first step to building resiliency, new teachers should identify their core values and discuss them with a mentor teacher or coach. The coach can then help the new teacher identify their emotions by connecting them to their core values. For example, when a teacher’s own actions, or the actions of others, are not aligned to their core values, a teacher will have negative emotions. If they leave those emotions unidentified, it will result in unwanted reactions. A coach can help the new teacher understand the connection between core values and negative emotions to help them react in a productive way.”
 
When she meets with a new teacher, she gets to know them and have them narrow down their top three core values.
 
“Ms. Suiter focuses on core values each time she meets with them and aligns this with her coaching,” said Kelly Osterhout, principal at Quest. “They talk about any struggles or concerns within the classroom or building. Ms. Suiter then shares various strategies the teacher can incorporate. She also visits their classrooms to give non-evaluative feedback on the areas they are working on. We are fortunate to have Ms. Suiter as our New Teacher Coach.”
 
Her own core values are honesty, humor, fun, and confidence. As a mentor, she reflects that her core values come into play often. She makes it a point to get to know her mentees and build strong relationships before observing their classroom and offer feedback.
 
“I want them to feel comfortable and know I am their biggest fan and am rooting for their success,” said Ms. Suiter. “As a coach, I promote openness by being honest in my speech and actions.”
 

Here is what two of Ms. Suiter’s mentees have said about her:
 
  • "Ms. Suiter has helped me tremendously this year by guiding me through the ins and outs of being a Quest teacher. Her positive attitude and encouragement allow us to work on my weaknesses without getting discouraged. She contributes amazing ideas that always help and creates a safe environment that welcomes any type of question. She's the best!" – Mr. Ian Griffiths, Quest music teacher. 
  • "What can I say about Ms. Suiter… she is the face of Quest! She is insightful and has a listening ear. She provides great guidance for us new teachers with her passion, determination, and focus in being a mentor." – Meggan Finley, teacher in residence and long-term sub for virtual kindergarten at Quest. 
  • Her core values come into play inside her own classroom as well. She frequently opts for ways to make learning fun for her students, holding the belief that students learn and remember more when a lesson is meaningful and engaging.
 
“I use a lot of teaching strategies that involve movement and collaboration, such as vote with your feet, stand up pair up, think pair share, or even dancing,” said Ms. Suiter. “In kindergarten we even incorporate food into some of our lessons. In the fall, we learn about our five senses, so we taste three types of apples and make a class graph. The kids have so much fun choosing which apple tastes the best and collecting data to see which apple is the most popular among their friends.”
 
Keep up the great work, Ms. Suiter!