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READaSONG in the National News

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John Merrow, Education Correspondent, PBS NewsHour
When I watched Nancy Welsh teach, I found myself wishing that I, or my children, or my grandchildren could be in her class. She was, I felt, a genius in the classroom in at least two ways: one was her connection with each child, which reflected her ability to feel what each child needed. Perhaps a hug, maybe a word of encouragement, or maybe a little push. Empathy matters

But high standards are also important, and Nancy expected the most from all of her kids. Their parents might have been in Iraq or Afghanistan or South Korea, but that did not give them a free pass from her expectations. What she did was make learning a treat, a joy. She used music like the artist she is. Her songs taught words, ideas, vocabulary and reading, and she wrote the songs in such a way that her kids believed that they were co-authors and co-composers.

Great classrooms are no accident but the deliberate creation of loving teachers who adhere to high standards. Nancy Welsh is one of the great ones.

John Merrow
Education Correspondent, PBS NewsHour, and President, Learning Matters, Inc.
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John Salovardos Ed.D., Gardner Public Schools, Gardner MA
One of the largest challenges facing special education administrators is the task of making relevant recommendations to building principals that will aid in improving learning and the integration of students of varying abilities, such as ELL and special education services, into general education settings. Part of this task involves providing meaningful professional development opportunities to staff where they can see the model at work and gauge its effectiveness firsthand. We felt that Nancy Welsh’s READaSONG method would provide strategies for a wide variety of students at the elementary level, and offer the type of interactive training and observation needed to make it relevant to our staff. One teacher noted, “ Nancy did a session with my class, which is composed of students with autistic and other learning disabilities. The students were not only attentative, but participated and were involved in her lesson.”

A key aspect to the successful presentation to our staff was that Nancy based her lessons on our curriculum as well as the core standards, collaborating with teachers to discuss her rationale and the processes of her program before and after implementing it in the classroom. A teacher reported, “I was very impressed with Nancy’s skill as a teacher and her knowledge as a presenter.” The dynamic of the model and the overall presentation from Nancy made this a successful recommendation to my colleagues and a valuable training to our staff.

John Salovardos Ed.D.
Gardner Public Schools
Special Education Department

Charles Council, Principal, Murray PS, NCDDESS/Ft. Bragg
Nancy Welsh was an outstanding educator in the capacity of Kindergarten teacher during her career with the Fort Bragg Schools, which is a proud and integral part of DoDEA. I had the pleasure of being Nancy’s supervising principal for over eight years and developed a total admiration for the quality of work she did. Mrs. Welsh was and still is a wonderful teacher who provided multiple opportunities for success for her students each and every day. She, of course, followed our standards to create her lessons and they were always developmentally appropriate.

I will tell you that I always enjoyed visiting the “Raccoon Class” and had many opportunities not only to observe, but to participate in the class. Her students were happy, their parents were happy and there was always an extremely warm, nurturing, welcoming and positive environment. If ever I was having “one of those days,” I would always venture down to one of our kindergarten classes and Nancy’s was admittedly one of my favorites, I would always leave feeling better for having visited. Mrs. Welsh did an excellent job of differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all of her students. There was always a vast menu of learning modalities to reach the various learning styles. Without question, it was always a busy environment, but in a very structured positive way. I suppose the best thing I could possibly say; I would have loved for my son to have had the opportunity to be in Mrs.Welsh’s kindergarten class and to be able to say he had her as a teacher.

Charles Council, Principal
Murray Primary School, NCDDESS/Ft.Bragg

Norma Menchon, Teacher of ELL and Bilingual Education, School Two, Paterson NJ
Thank you so much for visiting my classroom and sharing some of your wonderful songs with my students and me. For ELL students, songs are an added bonus to help them practice the English language. Rhythm and movement help the students learn new vocabulary in a fun and safe way. By reading and singing the words to a song, they internalize and own the new vocabulary and concept. Singing brings us together and gets us ready to work as a team throughout the day.

As a teacher, songwriting has become a contagious idea. Now, as I prepare my lessons, I am trying to connect the lessons to a song because I have seen how great the end result is. Thanks for visiting my classroom and for helping me enhance my teaching.

Norma Menchon, Teacher of ELL and Bilingual Education
First and Second Gr. Language Arts, School Two, Paterson, NJ

Wendy Samford, Assistant Principal, Boardman OH
Nancy's music is a workshop hit. Not only is it informative but is delightfully entertaining. The content of her songs are targeted to our standardized needs but hit home on our wants to have a joyful classroom environment. Our teachers loved the "hands on, ready to use the next day" information they acquired.
Well worth the money and definitely worth the time!

Wendy Samford
Assistant Principal, Boardman, Ohio

Lynda Davis, Aide, Ft. Bragg Schools NC
In our class, learning was centered around singing, whether it was the calendar, letters, weather, thematic units, or lining up. It was fun and the students happily and quickly learned the task. When we needed to jog their memory, all we had to do was "hum a few bars", then they would sing the skill! It was so funnly. I have used Nancy's songs to homeschool my granddaughter and at the age of 3, she was singing the types of weather, although foggy usually turned out as "froggy". She would say, "Sing it and I'll learn, Ama." A great testimony to Nancy and her songs. Lynda Davis, aide for 20 years.

Lynda Davis
Ft. Bragg Schools

Shenelle, AmericCorps member, Paterson NJ
The Literacy training was very informative to both the teachers as well as the AmeriCorps members. We learned that we can teach children words, sentences and spelling through common, fun songs.

AmeriCorps member, Paterson, NJ

Nicole Lebron, LSW, Paterson NJ
The (AmeriCorps) members really enjoyed your training and found it very beneficial to the work they will be doing with the 1st & 2nd grade students this school year. I am the full-time school social worker, working with the Full Service Community Schools Initiative.

Nicole Lebron, LSW
Paterson, NJ

Kelly Fleming, School 5, Paterson NJ
Nancy, Just wanted to say thank you for the workshop on September 23rd. It was informative and useful to enhance student learning. I have already taught the students the odd and even songs. They do love singing them and now know those concepts. I will be singing alot this year.

Thanks Again,
Kelly Fleming
School 5, Paterson