Teacher Katrise Reado-Clark: ‘Learning can be hands-on and fun’

Published 5:00 am Friday, November 17, 2023

By Emily Burleigh

Sulphur native Katrise Reado-Clark, 39, believes every student has the potential to succeed — all they need is the right tools and the right motivations.

She teaches first grade at Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy and, in her classroom, she recognizes different learning styles and differentiates instruction to meet the needs of each individual student. She also curates the optimum learning space.

“Children are unique in their own special way and must have a safe, stimulating educational environment where they can grow academically, emotionally, and socially. I understand each child learns in their own way. ”

First grade is a critical time time for students, as they begin to learn foundational skills, she said. They learn phonological awareness skills, spelling patterns and learn to read. For Reado-Clark, literacy is the most important foundational skill.

“Reading is a skill needed for all academic subjects, not just ELA. If a student struggles with reading, they will struggle with math, science, and social studies.”

It is also a vital day-to-day skill.

“If a student has trouble mastering foundational reading skills, they will struggle throughout elementary, secondary, and post-secondary school years. They will develop into an adult who finds tasks like filling out a job application or helping their children with homework difficult.”

She has seen this firsthand. From 2008 to 2022, she was an adult education teacher. She served as a program coordinator and classroom instructor with the Literacy Council of SWLA, where she taught HiSET classes to those on the path to earn a high school diploma. Her students’ ages ranged from 16 to over 60.

After over a decade in the field, she decided she wanted to change direction.

“After working in adult education for so many years I felt by becoming a classroom teacher for the youth I could prevent a child from falling through the cracks and possibly dropping out of school. I wanted to be the motivation and encouragement that so many struggling students need to be successful.”

With her Bachelor of Science in human services and Master of Art in education and special education from the University of Phoenix, she student taught at Oak Park Elementary School before joining the SWLCA team.

Reado-Clark knows she has the heart and the patience to be a teacher, and believes God created the path toward a career in education so that she could positively impact the lives of local youth. Her relationship with those students is open and loving, she said.

“My students know that I expect each of them to try hard.  They understand that although I create a fun learning environment, I expect them to treat one another with respect.”

Creating a healthy learning environment is a priority for Reado-Clark. Not only does a proper learning space allow students to feel comfortable, it also lets them take on challenges they otherwise wouldn’t have.

“I strive to provide students with a safe and fun learning environment where they can speak freely and take risks. I believe this type of environment encourages students to reach their full potential. Learning does not have to be boring with a teacher talking to you all day.  Learning can be hands-on and fun.”

Her teaching style is modeled after her fourth-grade teacher, Berry Carrier. As a child, Reado-Clark knew she wanted to be an educator just like her, sweet but stern with high expectations.

“I find that I am this same type of teacher.”

While it is a challenge, Reado-Clark knows that education is a vocation that is motivated by the desire to provide for the next generation.

“Being an educator is difficult, you will have sleepless nights, and you will find yourself busy every second of the day but think of the bigger picture. … You are the positive change needed for our future, you are the safety and love a student may not otherwise receive.”