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Solution Seeker Spotlight: Cortney Dotson, Olympic View Elementary

Each month we feature staff members dedicated to being Solution Seekers in their schools.   

Cortney in her classroom with two studentsCortney Dotson, special education resource teacher at Olympic View Elementary, is dedicated to developing cooperative strategies to help all students grow academically, socially, and emotionally. She believes that listening well and building self-esteem in students are crucial to unlocking their full potential. 

Tell us about yourself.  

I am a resource teacher serving grades K-2 at Olympic View Elementary and have worked in NTPS for 3.5 years. Previously, I served as a life skills teacher at Westwood Middle School in Cheney Public Schools. Before that, I worked as a paraeducator for 6 years in life skills, EBD, and resource programs, and this is truly where my teacher education and inspiration to become a special education teacher originated.  

As a parent of four children, I volunteered regularly in classrooms and in support of the schools my children attended, from cooperative preschool through elementary, and continuing at the middle and high school levels. In all these experiences, I’ve learned that schools work best when teachers, support staff, and parents work together to create a positive school culture and commit to doing whatever it takes to support every student.   

What do you like best about your job?  

I love helping students with learning needs to continue to grow in their academics. I love it when the light bulb moment happens, and I get the gift of seeing how all the work of everyone in a child’s life comes together—from the child’s family support, the classroom teacher’s efforts, and our work in the resource classroom. I enjoy figuring out what works for each student to help them to grow academically, socially, and emotionally. If we really listen and get to know our students, we can learn how to unlock their full potential. Self-esteem is critical—children learn best when they know they are cared about and know others believe in them. In short, children who believe they can learn, do learn. I love finding ways to motivate students, build strong relationships, and inspire them to see themselves as the unique, capable, and wonderful people they are. 

Cortney and two students working on an assignmentWhy is being a Solution Seeker important to you?  

It is important for schools to commit to helping all students succeed; to do so, we must truly believe that ALL students can learn. Our work is to find out how to help students learn, and that can be complicated and difficult. We must keep seeking solutions and finding ways to reach every student, even when the task seems insurmountable. I don't see students as my students or your students; I see all of them as OUR students and am committed to helping them in any way I can. Every day, I give my all to support my school's students, teachers, and staff because that's what it takes to create a strong learning community.  

Can you share a story where you experienced problem-solving in action?   

With the students on my caseload, I am connected with 12 different teachers in 3 different grades each day. I get the opportunity to engage in problem-solving with each of them, along with my special education colleagues, in support of our shared students. I have many stories of how the amazing staff at Olympic View Elementary works together to help the students and families in our school community. This staff is incredibly generous, kind, and committed to finding ways to meet the unique needs of all students. As a resource teacher who works with some of our most unique learners, I am very proud to be part of this team.