At Soaring Eagles Elementary in Colorado Springs, CO, Gina Oellig creates a reading rainbow inside her first-grade classroom that leads her students to the proverbial pot of gold--exceptional reading and writing skills. Oellig may only have six years in the classroom, but she has already made a lasting impression by drastically improving student reading skills and educating colleagues throughout her district and state.
Oellig has used her master’s degree in reading to teach students not only how to read efficiently, but to instruct other teachers how to grade and assess reading and writing more effectively. In 2008, 96% of her class met state-wide benchmarks for reading. She leads other teachers through professional development, and produces training videos for teachers at her school. The rubric she developed for writing assessment is now used throughout her district. Oellig trains teachers in other local districts about dyslexia, both its effects on the reading process and how to address the challenges associated with the condition.
Oellig furthers the learning process beyond the classroom as well, giving presentations to parents about how to teach their children to read at home. To involve families and the community even more, she organizes book fairs at her school and hosts reading nights for parents whose first language is not English. Rain or shine, Oellig’s generous spirit is guiding students and adults alike toward a bright future.