In 2005, 10 days into Catherine Randall's third year teaching in St. Bernard Parish, Hurricane Katrina decimated Joseph J. Davies Elementary, most of St. Bernard Parish, and Randall's own home. Though she lost both her job and her home overnight, Randall rejoined the district as soon as possible to help rebuild the school system from the ground up, working alongside colleagues who were teaching 50 or more students in classrooms housed in used trailers in a parking lot. Randall's selfless dedication to students was an integral part of the school's rebound after the natural disaster. Davies, a Title I school with 70% of its families living in poverty, carries an A rating and is a National Blue Ribbon School.
Randall's third-grade students post equally impressive scores. In the 2015 PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) assessments, 100% reached Advanced or Mastery in mathematics, and 97% reached Advanced or Mastery in reading. She willingly takes on student teachers, and teachers are often asked to observe her in action. Randall earns the highest praise from other teachers in the district: Many choose Davies for their own children in hopes of getting them into Mrs. Randall's class for third grade.
Randall engages students in the classroom by making learning relevant and enjoyable and motivating students to surpass previous goals. She uses a variety of differentiated instructional methods, including close reading strategies, exit tickets, "Think-Pair-Share," graphic organizers, talk moves and annotation. She nurtures her relationship with students and families by providing ongoing feedback about students' performance. Randall teaches the whole child, focusing on academic advancement and social and emotional growth. A master at capturing "teachable moments," Randall often incorporates discussions about bullying or other challenges into her lessons.
Randall became the district's curriculum coordinator in 2008-09; she excelled in the position, but her heart was in the classroom. At the end of the year she returned to the third grade, telling the district that she felt she would make a bigger contribution by practicing her craft, testing best practices, developing effective interventions, and providing frontline input into district decisions.
Teachers and administrators consider Randall a "go-to" person for elementary school policy, practices and procedures. She sits on the district's math curriculum team, serves as Davies' public information liaison, and mentors candidates for the district's alternate certification program. In the new position of third-grade teacher leader, Randall will guide the third-grade team as members work to internalize the curriculum and practices in each classroom and take responsibility, as a group, for the academic success of students. She serves on the school's Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) team, data team, and Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). Randall presents strategy workshops for professional development sessions within the district each year and leads the third-grade curriculum cadre, which meets after hours to examine assessments. She is one of two teachers on the district's five-year long-range strategic planning committee.
Randall is a graduate of Our Lady of Holy Cross College. She earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education in 2003 and a Master of Education in 2008. She currently serves there as an adjunct professor of education.
"I know I'm succeeding as an educator when my kids feel good about themselves and they know I care. Academics are very important, but..." (read more)