Check out some of our top educators on Outschool!

These professionals embody our EPIC framework by providing instruction and creating class experiences that are Empowering, Passion-driven, Intentional, and Connected! 

Teacher Vaughn

Intentional Educator

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Ms. Shiren

Connected Educator

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Empowering Educators

Jacqueline Shaprow

Jacqueline Shaprow has been nominated as a Spotlight Educator for her empowerment of students, passion-driven teaching style, and the meaningful connections she cultivates with her students. Her teaching has been highlighted on ABC News, among other media outlets. Jacqueline has taught more than a thousand students across the world. She views educating youth as her primary purpose.

Jacqueline graduated from Yale University and the University of Southern California Law School, and is a member of the California Bar. In addition to her teaching, she serves as a Yale Alumni Interviewer and assists with a number of projects to empower future leaders. This year, she was a featured speaker for Jack and Jill, an organization founded in 1938 with the goal of inspiring leaders of color.

Jacqueline’s results are proof of the effectiveness of her passion-driven teaching style. While teaching Kindergarten on Nellis Airforce Base, 100% of her students met or exceeded their RIT growth goal on the MAP standardized assessment, compared to the 50% national average.

She inspires students of color to apply to top colleges and law schools. When asked how she would encourage other educators to empower students, Jacqueline responded, “We all need to equip our students with the skills necessary to improve their test-taking and writing abilities. This naturally enhances their confidence in any academic environment.” Jacqueline will continue to empower and inspire youth each and every day.

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Christina Johnson

Being an English/Language Arts teacher requires Christina to teach students a myriad of skills, including reading, writing, and critical thinking. Teaching students to trust themselves and feel empowered is at the root of each of these, and so the core of her teaching philosophy is to help students find and use their voices. She works mainly with older students, which grants her a unique opportunity to meet and engage with them at a time in their lives when they are just discovering that they have a voice at all. She does her best to provide students with engaging and relevant material, she asks challenging questions that promote critical thinking, and most of her classes revolve around student observations and questions. 

Christina sees her job as helping teens connect the dots between the past and present and feel confident speaking up when they see history repeating itself. They are far more aware and engaged than some give them credit for, and she tries to help each of them find their voice, use their voice, and project their voice. Most importantly, she never silences any of their voices. 

Her main advice for empowering students, especially teenagers, is to respect them and to recognize that they already have thoughts and ideas, but they may just need a bit of a push or even just the opportunity to fully express themselves. Honesty, authenticity, and respect are far more effective teaching tools than curriculum standards. The students who feel respected will feel empowered, and empowered students are the ones who will go on to change our world for the better.

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Passion-driven Educators

Ms. Shiren

Ms. Shiren believes it’s important for learners to take ownership of their own learning by allowing them to make choices where applicable. As a result, they are better able to see the benefits of their learning themselves, and how it can contribute to the achievement of their own personal goals.

She models this by choosing topics she is passionate about to teach in the online classroom. This allows her to deeply understand and to connect to those topics, and therefore have access to a breadth of options when it comes time to select material and activities. Because her passions also involve global travel, languages, and culture, this also helps her encompass the Outschool outlook for global perspectives in a number of her classes.

Ms. Shiren thinks educators wanting to be EPIC on Outschool would do well to periodically check in on the goals of this Framework and evaluate how they are measuring up with their own teaching goals and practices, making sure they remain aligned as things shift and change in their teaching business. This will also help you to re-prioritize what is important and let go of what might no longer be working. Finally, sometimes you may wonder if your “passion project” is paying off; however, it may just be time to freshen up some aspects of your content or question some of your goals and direction – but not necessarily time to throw in the towel on it! With a few tweaks and a fresh perspective, you may find that your original passion can still reap results in your Outschool business!

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Lauren Ard

Lauren’s teaching philosophy is to meet kids where they are using their own interests. For instance, parents have told her that their kid doesn’t like science, but they love Pokémon. So, her Pokémon and Geology class can get kids interested in rocks and minerals when they hated that stuff before! For example, she compares “rock type” Pokémon to real rocks and minerals and how they are formed. She makes an effort to identify what passions she has that learners share (mainly Pokémon, Star Wars, and Harry Potter), and she combines those topics with science, history, and mythology to create classes that stand out to learners and parents alike. 

Her advice to other teachers would be to figure out what they are truly passionate about and brainstorm new and creative ways to combine them with educational topics. Try a lot of different ideas and see what sticks!

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Intentional Educators

Teacher Vaughn

Vaughn believes we all, regardless of age, want to feel safe, be seen, heard and respected. In the classroom, whether in person or online, is no different. She strives to provide her students with a safe space to ask questions and express their struggles with any specific task. Ultimately, she teaches each class with the intention of providing a new skill/concept or expanding on learned ones in a manner that makes her students feel valued while they have fun.

The advice she would offer other teachers is to provide classes that you’re truly excited to teach. Your desire to be present has to come across in every lesson or it’s a deal-breaker for both you and the student(s). She also suggests moving at a pace that you’re comfortable with. Vaughn currently offers origami classes but plans on creating new classes to include other crafts, language lessons, and Korean pop music when she’s ready. Again, the advice she would give to others – and herself – is to move at a pace that won’t overwhelm you. Give yourself permission to find your own path on Outschool.

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Melanie Wiancko

Melanie believes it is essential to create a safe space where learners feel included and are able to make mistakes. She believes there needs to be mutual respect in her classroom, especially when she is teaching difficult and heavy topics in history. She feels it is important that her students feel free to ask questions without feeling judged, but it is also important to help guide students into deeper thinking that may challenge their current viewpoint. As she teaches quite a few history courses, she believes that she has a responsibility to help students gain multiple perspectives and not shy away from the ‘uncomfortable’ topics that need to be discussed. She often reminds her students that they do not know each others’ backgrounds or stories, and it’s important that they are intentional in choosing their words and respectful of one another when learning together. She wants her students to leave her classroom feeling they have learned something new in an engaging way, sparking curiosity and the desire to learn more and pursue their interests.

Her advice for other teachers is not to compare yourself to other educators. Although it can be helpful to learn and grow alongside other educators, comparison can negatively impact your own unique style and potentially hold you back from trying new things that may be really positive for your own experience.

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Connected Educators

Linda Newell Lu

Linda believes that students learn best when they are engaged and having fun. She loves classroom discussions where students can share their stories and perspectives, and she believes we can learn so much from listening to each other. As a teacher, she encourages students to be respectful of others. She strives to model this respect by listening to students’ unique perspectives, offering constructive feedback, and adjusting content to fit the needs of all learners. What works well for one student may not work for another, and she believes being flexible and adjusting lesson materials to fit the needs of learners is essential.

She takes time at the beginning of each class to get to know her students and looks for opportunities to make personal connections during class. For example, if she’s reading a story about a child who moves to a new town, she may ask if the student has ever moved or traveled somewhere new. This serves two purposes. First, it helps the student better understand the content from the lesson. Second, it helps create a connection between her and learners because it provides them with the opportunity to discuss things that we may have in common. 

Her advice to other educators is to remember that every student is an individual. Each learner has unique abilities, knowledge, personality traits, and perspectives. Take the time to get to know your students throughout class. Look for ways to make personal connections, as it can make classes more enjoyable and help students learn more.

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Kathy Wilder

To learn, learners need to feel safe and heard. As their teacher, Kathy feels it is her role to provide that space. Creating that space starts with sharing. Sharing an idea, an event, something exciting or boring that happened and then using and modeling language that creates the feeling of belonging. She uses the Socratic method in each of her classes to create their circle of inquiry. She thinks that we learn by asking and answering questions. Therefore, learners are encouraged to think about their answers and challenge themselves to understand their thoughts. When students feel safe to share their ideas the magic happens. The students will challenge each other’s ideas to better understand their own thoughts and gain a better understanding of the world around them.

Kathy homeschooled her own children through high school. She shared her love of philosophy and books, not only with her children, but with the homeschool groups to which they belonged. Once her own children flew into their next life stages she found she missed teaching. Outschool gives her the opportunity to share her passions around the globe. Over the years she has learned to encourage students, celebrate their uniqueness, and meet them where they are in terms of abilities. 

She thinks teachers should listen and hear what their students are saying. People won’t remember what you said but they will remember how you made them feel. She creates a classroom environment where all students feel connected and safe to share their thoughts.

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