Spotlight: Lauren Palos, Stuchberry Elementary School

Lauren Palos is a first-grade self-contained teacher at Stuchbery Elementary in Pasadena ISD, a school in which 82% of the students are identified as economically disadvantaged. Ms. Palos is an alumna of Pasadena ISD and began her journey as a professional educator five years ago as Title 1 instructional aide, a role through which she serviced students in small groups for intervention and enrichment. She has spent the last four years teaching first-grade students, and Ms. Palos’s resiliency as an educator is evident in how she takes classrooms of six-year-olds who come from various backgrounds and with diverse needs and creates communities of mathematicians and readers within the walls of her school, a school in which she was once a student herself.

Ms. Palos’ unique blended learning teaching style, particularly with mathematics, is evident when you walk into her classroom and see her young students engaged in mathematics and empowered with strategies and tools to help them be successful with their learning. Her teaching style is student-directed and includes mathematics routines that promote students’ number sense such as Number Talks, Choral Counting, and Counting Collections; whole group and data-informed small group instruction that includes student engagement, student discourse, student use of academic language, mathematics tools such as manipulatives and toolkits, and the use of technology-based platforms to guide and monitor student learning; and data-informed workstations that promote students’ retention of previously learned concepts and proficiency with number-based fact fluency strategies. Because of Ms. Palos’ belief that parents are full-time partners in their child’s education, she has created two classroom initiatives, “Mystery Reader” and “Mystery Mathematician”, in which parents are invited into her classroom to participate in content-specific activities with all of her students. These initiatives have created excitement in her classroom and have empowered parents to feel confident as valued contributors to their child’s learning environment.

Ms. Palos’s instructional strategies have impacted the lives of her students and the success of the other teachers and students at her school and across her school district in many ways. Within her school community, she has facilitated campus presentations such as “Technology Training” and “Launching Seesaw” and served as a Team Leader, New Teacher Mentor, and Mathematics Vertical Alignment Committee Member. Ms. Palos has co-facilitated several initiatives at her campus including “Mathematizing the Campus”, “Mathematics Spirit Week”, and the district’s first ever elementary “Mathematics Bee”. Within her district community, Ms. Palos has facilitated district presentations such as “Seesaw for Reading Instruction K-2 Professional Development” and “Seesaw Updates for Mathematics Coaches” and served as an Elementary Mathematics Teacher Leadership Team Member, an Emerging Teacher Leaders in Mathematics Education Academy Member, and an exemplar classroom for virtual instruction and blended learning. She has supported numerous district-level mathematics curriculum projects such as “Mathematics Routines: Number Talks, Choral Counting, Counting Collections” and “Seesaw Digital Library for K-2 Mathematics” as well as district-level literacy curriculum projects. Ms. Palos was the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for Stuchbery Elementary.

Outside of her school and district community, Ms. Palos is active on Twitter (@LaurenPalos), a platform through which she shares the work of her classroom and connects with other educators throughout the nation. She authored the article” Choral Counting in Action” for the 2021 Fall/Winter Texas Mathematics Teacher journal, a publication of the Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics (TCTM) and also received one of TCTM’s grants to purchase manipulatives for her mathematics classroom.

Ms. Palos is a Seesaw Learning Ambassador, a Kahoot! Certified Educator, a TCEA Certified Educator Effective Math: K-2, and a Flipgrid Certificated Educator and has presented conference sessions at the regional (Region 4 ESC), state (CAMT), and national/global (Seesaw Connect Global Conference) levels. She is a member of the Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the Texas Computer Education Association.

Ms. Palos’ commitment to educational excellence is evident in the ways in which she works to support her students’ success in mathematics while also supporting other mathematics educators in their efforts to ensure that all students learn at high levels. Ms. Palos is a particularly special teacher in that she is changing the trajectory of the lives of students at Stuchbery Elementary and it is evident in her students’ sense of efficacy with mathematics … and their performance in mathematics!