At Catalyst Academy, we believe that strong communities are made by people who show up, who celebrate achievements, and who look for opportunities to support each other. Just such a community is the Inclusive Learning team at Catalyst. Teachers and families work together to promote scholar independence so that every child is prepared for college, career, and life.
As is true for every part of life, it’s our people that make all the difference. We care deeply for our Pittsburgh community, we show up and celebrate each other every day, and together, we create a world-class K-8 school where all children are prepared for college, career, and life.
Meet our Inclusive Learning Founding Director
Carrie Potter-Murray is our Founding Director of the Inclusive Learning Team at Catalyst. She held instructional roles in Learning Support, Autistic Support, and Emotional Support before joining Catalyst. She has degrees from Point Park University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Slippery Rock University. With a passion to promote equitable outcomes for all students commensurate with their abilities, Carrie is a fierce advocate for her school community. A Pittsburgh native, Carrie and her husband (who is also an educator) strive to raise their three children to be curious and welcome chances to improve our world for a more inclusive future.
We decided to interview Carrie to help you get to know her. Interview below:
When did you know you wanted to work in education?
My background is not in education, but in investigative journalism. I was fortunate to work with a non-profit organization as an undergraduate that used investigative reporting to exonerate individuals who had been wrongfully convicted of serious crimes. My passion for social justice was born there. During my doctoral studies, I learned that women often enter the education field because of a commitment they feel to the social justice aspect of public education. I transitioned my career focus from writing news stories to writing behavior plans, IEPs, and progress reports when I realized my calling was to advocate for children with exceptionalities and their families in public schools.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
My favorite teacher was a professor I had as an undergraduate: Bill Moushey. Moushey is not only my favorite teacher, but my favorite writer, boss, and part of college. He taught me how to think critically and objectively, how to research, how to navigate organizations in which inequities were common, and how to be an advocate for the underdog. When my father passed away, Moushey came to the funeral home. I’ll never forget what he said to my mother and I: Anything you need, I’m there. That’s what good teachers do. They are always there. That’s a lesson I’ve carried with me throughout my career in education. We’ve got to be there for our scholars, their families, and for each other because that’s what good teachers do.
How does your school’s mission and vision align with your personal values?
The mission of Catalyst Academy and the mission of the Inclusive Learning program go hand-in-hand. “Belong” can’t happen unless acceptance is felt. “Grow” can’t happen unless a starting point or baseline is identified. And “Achieve” can’t happen until achievable goals are set. These three words–Belong, Grow, Achieve–are central in every screening, evaluation, IEP, progress report, etc. that our Inclusive Learning team plays a role. I come to school every day knowing that the Inclusive Learning team that I am honored to serve with has our scholar’s best interests at heart. The teachers on the Inclusive Learning team work tirelessly and with great passion every day to promote our scholars’ independence commensurate with the child’s abilities.
What do you love most about your role?
As an Inclusive Learning team, we celebrate all achievements–even if it appears small. When a scholar earns “Blue,” the highest point of achievement in the school’s Behavior Support System, we send a message out to our team to not only share the data point but to celebrate the scholar’s hard work in the classroom. A child’s realization of their capacity to do great things in this world is a gift that we are lucky enough to experience every day of the school year.
What else would you like us to know about you and the Inclusive Learning Team?
Everyone on the Inclusive Learning team is invested in our families and growing as professionals. We all love to read — fiction, non-fiction, journals, etc. Even more so than reading, we all love to share our favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh and enjoy exchanging stories of places we’ve visited and enjoyed throughout the city.
We are Here for You
As a public charter school, Catalyst Academy is a tuition-free, open-enrollment school for any student, including students with special needs and English-language learners, in the city of Pittsburgh and other area communities. Regardless of how challenging life can be, we are a safe space, and this is a very special time in your child’s education.
We are here for you and we would love to share this time with you and your child. Enroll your K-2nd grader now!
Catalyst Academy Charter School’s mission is to prepare all students for college, career, and life. Catalyst Academy Charter School’s core values of Belong. Grow. Achieve. reflect the school’s deep commitment to cultivating an inclusive supportive school community where everyone – children and adults – is focused on learning every day, in order for all students to define and achieve their dreams. Catalyst Academy Charter School’s education model is designed to close both the achievement and opportunity gap. The approach couples rigorous core academics with a broad offering in the arts and sciences. Students will experience STEM learning daily and arts programming four days per week. Enroll your Kinder, first, or second grader today!