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Meet One of the Youngest CLASS Observers

23 Jun 2016 by Sarah Hadden

During one of Teachstone’s regional trainings, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had a father-daughter team in my training; the mother was also in attendence but in a different session. I know they say that the family that prays together stays together, but perhaps it’s also true that families who code together stay together! 

Meet Samantha St. Clair, probably the youngest certified CLASS observer I know.

I won’t reveal the tender age at which she started to code, but let's just say that at a time when many young people are navigating frat parties and the bar scene, Samantha was already at work helping improve the quality of teacher-student interactions.

Samantha works for Omaha Program Evaluation Services (OPES) in Omaha, Nebraska. OPES conducts program evaluations for clients as diverse as Nelson Mandela Elementary School, Omaha’s Early Learning Centers, Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands, and Immigrant Legal Services Center. Her parents are the partners/senior evaluators of the company. She and her brothers code alongside them.

I asked Samantha the following questions about her experiences as a CLASS observer.


How many certifications do you currently hold?

I have four, almost five (next week!) including Infant, Toddler, Pre-K, and K-3. Im about to attend a training for Upper Elementary and then I’ll go for Secondary.


How did you get interested in conducting CLASS observations?

I do program evaluation work as an Evaluation Technician II at Omaha Program Evaluation Services. The CLASS is used as a pre- and post-measure of teaching and learning interactions. We’ve found it to be very helpful in guiding programmatic professional development planning and coaching, as well as an outcome measure to report on the progress of professional development and coaching.


What do you like best about coding?

I think because of my training and education in psychology, it makes coding behavior fairly simple. I don’t think it’s tough work. What I like is having the results of coding, so that we can analyze change over time.


What was the most surprising thing you saw while observing?

The most surprising thing for me was how similar some of my previous teachers were to teachers who consistently receive low ratings. It really opened my eyes to how important interactions are, and how much work needs to be done to guide future teacher education. One of my teachers, my fourth grade teacher—Ms. Stacy—would have scored highly in all domains. I think you have to have a connection, a relationship, before you can really teach students.


What do you see yourself doing once your coding days are behind you?

I’m hoping to someday go into Forensic Psychology, but I’m still uncertain as to what my future holds. Currently, my plans are to go to graduate school to further dig into what my true passions are and then go from there.


It was great to meet Samantha, and we wish her success in all her future endeavors!


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