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MN ABE News

A place to get ABE news from across Minnesota.


Highlighting PANDA Consultant Colleen Crossley - By PANDA

PANDA consultant and teacher Colleen Crossley was nominated for the 2018 Minnesota Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for the Robbinsdale School District Teacher of the Year!

Colleen began working at the Robbinsdale Adult Academic Program (AAP) in August 2008. She currently teaches EL Transitions Literacy for the AAP. In 2015, Colleen began working for PANDA- Minnesota Adult Basic Education Disability Specialists, in addition to her teaching responsibilities. In her consultant role, she has been developing and presenting workshops at ABE regional conferences, contributing to Minnesota ABE Connect, professional development articles, and to PANDA’s website. 

"The nomination gives me the chance to familiarize more people with the vital and wonderful field of Adult Basic Education," Colleen said. "My journey to becoming a teacher began when I was in second and third grade. I grew very attached to the elementary teachers I had in those grades and wanted to be just like them. Many mentors encouraged me along the way, and I finally became a teacher at the age of 37. At times, I pinch myself to think that I really am living my dream. I strongly believe that education is the key to empowerment; I think that one of my strengths as a teacher is my ability to connect with students on a personal level, in part because I was once an adult student myself."

Colleen was one of seven finalists for the Robbinsdale School District Teacher of the Year. Theresa Zingery, the Program Manager for AAP, introduced Colleen at the Robbinsdale School District Teacher of the Year Awards on May 9, 2018 with the following speech:

“Colleen Crossley is an exemplary teacher. I have been her supervisor for most of her ten years with the Adult Academic program and have found her to consistently be an outstanding professional with the skills and heart to make a difference for her students, the school and the profession. She is currently teaching our immigrant academic skills students who test at the first through third grade levels.

Colleen goes above and beyond to assist all students in her room, as well other students in the school and the state to reach their academic and life goals. Her standards-based lessons exemplify strong use of engaging, differentiated approaches including technology integration, project-based learning and the arts. 

She has won four state project awards for some of her outstanding work, including one for a project where she worked with her students and our partners at Covenant Village Retirement home to make a quilt which now hangs in our school. The quilt features stories of Covenant residents made into quilt squares and individual squares designed by each student to depict their own life and goals. (This quilt activity is featured in the Project-Based Learning library.)

Another project she did called Altered Shoes involved students writing their life stories and then decorating a shoe to create visual metaphors to reflect their life experiences. Colleen organized an art exhibit to showcase their stories and shoes with others in the school.

This year she brought in an artist to teach her students about mosaics and to design one for our school in conjunction with a civil rights lesson. The mosaic the students made depicts our state and features the words “All are welcome here” – it was made from pieces of broken plates to symbolize that food brings us all together. Most recently she has started a highly successful Toastmasters program with our students and staff funded by the Seven Dreams foundation.

She cares about her students as individuals and has helped set up our Resource Room and offered classroom volunteers to staff it. This is a room where our students can come for assistance with life issues that might be impacting their ability to attend school and achieve their goals. In addition, she is the co-liaison to the Student Advisory Board and has developed a special leadership curriculum for them.

She is very concerned with the success of our program and the field of Adult Basic Education. She leads committees and has written many successful grants to extend program offerings. Colleen also works with PANDA Minnesota ABE Disability Specialists to offer workshops for teachers around the state about multimodal teaching and conflict resolution utilizing Universal Design for Learning and other best teaching practices. 

Because of all she does, she won the 2017 Minnesota Adult Basic Education Advocate of the Year award. In everything she does she shows she truly cares. She would make an outstanding Teacher of the Year. I’m sure her students and colleagues would enthusiastically agree.”

Wendy Sweeney, PANDA manager, states, “Colleen is a teacher who goes above and beyond what is required for her profession. She is someone who loves learning, is consistently trying new instructional methods, and cares deeply for her students and their welfare. Colleen has been a tremendous addition to PANDA staff by providing instructional methods for students with disabilities and educating ABE teachers about multiple methods of instruction to improve student learning. I feel lucky and privileged to work with Colleen.”

You can send an email congratulating Colleen here.

For more information about PANDA go to mn.abedisabilities.org

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