Who Is Angela Kolb?

Angela Kolb is one of our newest trainers here at IMSE, and over the last two years, she has been making an impact in her classroom as well as throughout her district. Angela has been teaching in her district for a total of 9 years and originally started as a special education teacher for the cognitively impaired.

4 years into her teaching career, the special education program was moved to another building. However, she did not wish to move buildings with the program and ended up becoming an interventionist. Ultimately, she became the head of the Individual Reading Intervention Plan (IRIP), where she started to take notice that there was a phonics deficit among the students she worked with.

Angela’s IMSE Journey

In 2020, Angela went with the principal of her building to a Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA) conference to assist with a presentation on the whole child. At the conference, she, her principal, and another teacher presented on the whole child, where she focused on how new interventions focus on the data, and another teacher highlighted the behavioral support system.

Angela states, “I have worked with the same principal for the 9 years I have been teaching, and they have always been very supportive of what I’ve done for my students.”

After the completion of the presentation, Angela was able to attend the conference and explore the vendor show where IMSE had a booth. During her visit to IMSE’s booth, she chatted with the IMSE Chief Academic Officer and entered into a drawing to win a free IMSE training.

To Angela’s surprise, she had won the drawing for the free training, “I was so ecstatic when I found out that I had won the drawing to become trained in IMSE’s OG strategies. I was so excited to begin this new literacy journey.”

“My IMSE training was scheduled for the week of the March 2020 shutdown, so I was given a training voucher to make it up over the summer,” Angela states. “The school year after my training, my school actually cut my interventionist position, so I took a position as a 2nd-grade general education teacher.”

“Kids were coming to my classroom from not having anything from March 2020 on, and I was able to use IMSE’s OG strategies and had amazing results. It was expected that I would have a total of 17 kids behind grade level by the end of the year, but I only had 4! Out of these 4 students, 1 was diagnosed with dyslexia, and the other 3 had IEPs. There is this perception that phonics is boring, but my kids loved it because it made text accessible to them.”

This new position also gave Angela the time to take the IMSE Practicum to become certified in IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham (OG) strategies. She was able to submit videos to IMSE once a week for the practicum so that they could observe her teaching and results.

“When you do the practicum, you have to have one student of focus. My colleague’s son, Conner, was diagnosed with dyslexia by Sandra Bowker, Ph.D. & Associates, Neurophysiologist in Portage, Michigan. She said that Orton Gillingham is the most effective way for students with dyslexia to learn to read.”

“His mom was actually the PE teacher at the elementary school I teach at. She came to me, stating, ‘I don’t know what to do! Reading just isn’t clicking for him.’”

Luckily, Conner ended up being in Angela’s 2nd-grade classroom that same year. When he arrived in her classroom, he was reading at a mid-year kindergarten reading level and left at the end of 2nd grade reading at a mid-2nd grade level. Angela’s classroom was hybrid throughout the year she was teaching Conner, and he was still able to make these gains.

“This was a feel-good moment for me and Conner’s mom. The only downside was that I ended up losing a colleague because his mother actually went on to take the training herself. She went on to teach 2nd grade at another school so that she could help more kids learn to read.”

IMSE Provides Educators With the Support They Need to Succeed

“Taking the IMSE training has changed so many lives. It’s changed mine. It’s changed the kids. So I really wanted to pursue the practicum,” Angela explains. “IMSE handholds every step of the way. Never being a general education teacher before, and with all instruction having to be provided on iPads during the pandemic, I was so excited to see IMSE come out with its digital slide bundles. That was life-changing for me! I was able to give the same lesson to my in-person and at-home kids.”

“Not to mention, the support IMSE provided me through my practicum was a big piece of why I was able to succeed. I was afraid and didn’t feel like I could do it on my own, so having someone right there was extremely beneficial and gave me the confidence that I could do this.”

The year following Angela’s practicum, her intervention position opened back up, and she was able to provide the support needed to all the students in her school and not just in her 2nd-grade classroom. In the summer of 2022, she decided to pursue the IMSE Train the Trainer Program.

As an approved IMSE trainer, she is able to work with other educators in her district who go through the IMSE training and coach them. “It was a tough program, but it was worth it. You know that you are going to get exactly what you need to make an impact.”

How Angela Is Making an Impact

Angela has been preaching to anyone who would listen that reading instruction needs to change. “This is not a fad, this is gonna stick. Look at the research. Teachers come to me sobbing, ‘How did I teach my kids wrong for so many years?’” Angela explains, “I did it in my special education class. When you know better, you do better.”

Janelle, IMSE’s Legislation Liaison, reached out to Angela after hearing great things about her from another IMSE trainer who co-taught with Angela in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After getting in touch with Angela, Janelle informed her of the amazing opportunities Michigan provides teachers through the MDE 35d Grant.

Janelle states, “With this foundation she had already laid, coupled with the MDE 35d Grant, Angela and I were able to work together to provide such an amazing opportunity for educators in her district. I told her, ‘you talk to the teachers about the training. I will talk with district leaders and administrators regarding the details of the grant.’”

Finally, the district literacy coordinator approved that teachers can take the free training provided through MDE 35d funding on their own time. Angela explains, “I’m thinking maybe 10 teachers will be interested. Within 24 hours, 30 teachers were interested, and at this point, 34 teachers are going to be taking the opportunity.”

These teachers are volunteering their time after school. That is how badly they want to attend IMSE training. This excitement from the teachers is entirely because of Angela. “It was like Christmas morning to tell them they get to take a free training,” Angela exclaims.

Because IMSE provides flexibility in the way educators can take IMSE Impact Professional Development training, these teachers were able to find an IMSE training option that works with their schedules.

“With IMSE, the time commitment is worth everything. You walk away with life-changing resources! Trust the process. You work hard, and it can be slow before you see results, but then it clicks for your students, and you see everything. Be patient, trust the process and understand Orton-Gillingham has the name it does for a reason.”

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