Foreman, Texas, teacher honored by national teaching program

YOLANDA LANSDELL-VOSS (Photo courtesy of Yolanda Lansdell-Voss)
YOLANDA LANSDELL-VOSS (Photo courtesy of Yolanda Lansdell-Voss)

FOREMAN, Ark. -- A teacher at Oscar Hamilton Elementary School was named in the Elite 100 list by IXL Learning, which is a K-12 personalized learning program used by 11 million students around the country.

Yolanda Lansdell-Voss, a special education teacher who has worked in the Foreman School District since 2003, was named as one of the top 100 teachers out of approximately 800,000 from around the world who have used IXL learning.

Following a year of pandemic-related disrupted learning, Lansdell-Voss used IXL to identify students' knowledge levels, personalize instruction to meet their individual needs and recover unfinished learning.

"I was a little shocked when I got the call," Lansdell-Voss said. "I got pulled out of the classroom, and I was like, 'Wow, okay.'

"But whatever progress I've made in working with my students, it's because I'm working along with the classroom teachers, as well. So, it's not just me. The award should go out to them too. We work together as a team."

Lansdell-Voss said she learned about the program last year from another Oscar Hamilton teacher, Teresa Crenshaw. Crenshaw was named to this last year and has worked together with teachers in her district to utilize the program to their students' advantage.

"I love it," Lansdell-Voss said. "I put the students on my roster, and I can see what they're working on in the classrooms. And that way, I know what they're needing more help with and where they are academically. I love the data I can get from it. I know where they're lacking, so I know where to start them from to get them closer to grade level."

One example of how Lansdell-Voss uses the data available to her is being able to group certain students in class together who have similar math skills and teach that group something that they all might not understand yet.

"We are so data-driven now, so to me, that is the biggest plus," she said. "We don't have to be constantly finding ways to accumulate data because it's right there. I've taught so long now that I pretty much know, but at least I have the data to back up what I know."

A long-tenured teacher, Lansdell-Voss doesn't need to be named to a list to know that she's affecting students' lives as a teacher, but she is happy another avenue has become available to help her fulfill that mission.

"I try to teach my kids that there is not just one way to learn something," she said. "Everyone's learning style is different. Some kids are very tactile in learning, and some kids are auditory. It's fail and try and fail and try, until they finally get it. You're not ever going to learn if you don't fail at something. So, that's what I try to show them."

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