LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Courtney Montgomery

Position: Lower School Learning Support Teacher
School: International School of Indiana
School District: International School of Indiana
City, State: Indianapolis, IN

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Music that Describes Courtney

Courtney Montgomery was nominated by her colleague, Genevive Gardner.

"Ms. Courtney is an outstanding learning support teacher. I look up to her, both as a colleague and as a parent of an exceptional learner," said Gardner. "Ms. Courtney loves her students and finding new and creative ways to help them overcome their learning differences and reach their academic, social, and emotional goals."

There is no average day for Ms. Courtney, but each day of this atypical school year begins with her greeting students at the front door and checking their temperatures. For the rest of the day, she can be found running around the building, responding to every student’s need and every teacher’s request. Ms. Courtney is talented, caring, and dedicated, whether she's handling meltdowns, navigating complex family dynamics, or providing resources, materials, and accommodations for exceptional learners. She has tackled hard issues that students face, such as racial prejudice and gender identity, with a keen and sensitive awareness of implicit bias.

"I appreciate Ms. Courtney’s willingness to have hard conversations with our students and parents as she continues to strive for growth and progress - all during a pandemic," said Gardner.

Ms. Courtney has brought her special education expertise to the International School of Indiana by helping her school set up a consistent tier support system. She meets weekly with teaching teams, navigating cultural and linguistic barriers to collaborate for student success. She has explored technology options to bring students educational apps that help teachers collect data and plan for differentiation.

An admirable example of Ms. Courtney’s approach to learning support is how she teaches and models positive discipline. Instead of putting a behavior plan in place or taking disciplinary action for students with behavior difficulties, Ms. Courtney selected struggling students to join her “leadership academy”. She coached them on specific skills that they then modeled for their peers. Students were trained to collect data for Ms. Courtney to show how many times they required redirections from the class teacher. Over time, they required fewer redirections and were able to work more independently. It's through techniques like this that Ms. Courtney empowers students and teaches them to use their strengths to overcome their obstacles.

"For my own child, Ms. Courtney has been a lifeline," said Gardner. "She set up daily meetings with him to help him break down and plan for his homework. She met with him regularly during eLearning to help him stay accountable and behave appropriately on Zoom. Ms. Courtney is the person he can go to whenever he has questions about his impulse control or decision-making. She has built a trusting relationship and given him a safe space to process his big emotions. Using graphic organizers and roleplay, she helps him to reflect on his choices and plan his actions."

Another parent shared that Ms. Courtney has been supportive and proactive in helping their child develop emotionally. She helps children understand the implications of the choices that they make and process challenging situations. Most importantly, Ms. Courtney ensures that children who struggle and feel insecure, know that they are special and worthy.