Cool Girls with Tag: teacher

Jami Swindell

Name: Jami Swindell
Age: 33
Location: St. Louis, Missouri and Urbana, Illinois
Occupation: Doctoral Student, Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant, College of Education, Department of Special Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Teaching Assistant and Doctoral Student Jami Swindell took to teaching before she was even out of school, finding her way into early childhood education prior to graduating high school

“I actually started teaching swimming lessons at the local community pool as a teenager. I really liked teaching the classes with the youngest children where we “learned through play” with games like Mr. Frog and Splash-around-the-Rosie.” Jami explains. “From there, I was able to work as a pre-school assistant and school-age teacher at a small child care center in my hometown.”

Continuing on her compassionate path, Jami began working with children who had special needs in a local child care center.

“I found myself making sure that all the children were included in activities, planning activities to meet the needs of the children who needed more support,” she says.

Working with a diverse demographic throughout her academic career, she went on to take part in the Child Development Lab at the University of Missouri and the Child Development Center at Missouri State University, focusing her studies on children with special needs and their families. It was from there that she decided to also extend a helping hand to professionals within special education through Project BLEND.

“Project BLEND focuses on preparing professionals within Early Childhood Special Education and Early Intervention for infants and toddlers with special needs,” Jami explains. “It supports professional development to blend practices within the fields of Early Childhood Special Education and Early Intervention to support interactions between systems, smooth transitions for families and shared policy or advocacy efforts.”

It also acts as a facilitator bringing research into practice, while championing those strategies that have been proven effective within Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education. It helps those professionals within the field gain experience at the local, state and federal level while also providing opportunities to participate in teaching, research, and service, including internships and shared research projects. It’s a collaborative approach, providing information, services, and training, while also remaining engaged with the families and special needs children within the community.

Jami spends much of her time in the classroom, either as a student or a teaching assistant. She also works as a research assistant for a statewide training program that provides webinars, meetings, and training collaboration for early intervention providers. Beyond her work, she is also a member of on campus committees, including acting as the Vice-President for the Special Education Graduate Student Association.

After her doctorate is completed, Jami hopes to create policy and sustainable systems grounded in research-based practices within Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education.

“I hope to continue to share my knowledge on child development, family-centered practices, and inclusive educational practices with other professionals through teaching and providing workshops at conferences. This leads to my other goals – traveling, building connections within the field while supporting my friends and family in meeting their own goals!” Jami says.

And what does this student educator suggest as life-based homework for young girls out there?

“Aim high, set your goals and make plans to achieve them! Rely on those who love and support you when you need them. When you reach one goal, make another and work hard to achieve it!”

Some sage advice from one wise teacher, we think Jami Swindell is one Cool Girl!

Roxanne Modaferri

Name: Roxanne Modafferi
Age: 32
Location:  Las Vegas
Occupation: Professional Fighter / Writer/ Teacher

Roxanne - The Happy WarriorSuperheroes aren’t just for comic books if you look at Roxanne Modafferi! This Vegas-based pro fighting lady can kick butt in a variety of martial arts, and has even made it onto The Ultimate Fighter 18!

Initially intrigued by cartoon TV tussles, Roxanne found herself practicing Tae Kwon Do in grade school after watching Power Rangers.

“I was greatly influenced by TV superheros who always did the right thing no matter how troublesome, and saved people,” she says. She cites Dragon Ball Z fighters, Naruto, and those famous Power Rangers as some of her favorites.

While Tae Kwon Do was her first foray into fistacuffs, she wasn’t satisfied to stay within one realm.

“I got into Kempo karate, Judo, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and then my jiu-jitsu friends showed me Mixed Martial Arts and I started practicing it with them,” she explains.

Roxanne During A FightBut unlike most kids who just have fun fighting, Roxanne took it a bit further. She took up MMA and became a bit of a superstar as well as a superheroine. She even got on television as a real-life warrior, no cartoon fireballs or animation required.

But it hasn’t all been easy. After fighting for so many years, her body sometimes lets her know that she is, in fact, mortal.

“My biggest challenge is up-keeping my body,” she admits. “I’ve been fighting for eleven years and I have a lot of nagging injuries. Some days I feel great, some days I’m in too much pain to train.”

And there have been many KOs delivered by circumstance interspersed with her victories. A nasty bout of food poisoning in Japan led to her having to pull out of a fight. Also, a super-scary knee injury that she feared would lead her to permanently buckle. Fortunately, she’s triumphed over all of these adversaries and continued to fight to success.

“The best experience was winning the elimination fight to get me onto The Ultimate Fighter season 18 cast. It opened up such major opportunities and allowed me to become better known by the public. People were recognizing me in Walmart,” she smiles.Cool Girl Roxanne Modafferi

Outside of the ring, Roxanne writes and teaches, even publishing a book called “Memoirs of a Happy Warrior” that has sold out in hard copies, but is still available in digital format on Amazon.

As she continues to muscle up without backing down, we here at Sock It to Me salute Roxanne Modafferi for being a very Cool Girl!

Check Roxanne out at  roxannemodafferi.net and you can find her on social media as well:

Instagram: roxyfighter

Twitter: @roxyfighter

Mary Joyce

Name: Mary Joyce
Age: 32
Location: Long Island, New York
Occupation: Special Education Teacher

Mary Joyce is at the head of the class, not just as a special education teacher, but also as a yoga instructor in her home of Long Island, New York. Growing up, Mary surmounted injuries as well as stereotypes, practicing karate when she was 16, and hitting her yoga mat even after shoulder injuries,. She also refuse to quit on her snowboard even when her tailbone and her pride told her to stay away from the slopes and stay in the chalet.

She credits the endless love and support of her mom and dad for keeping her going, even when the stress of work, graduate school, and a grueling roster of physical activities, threatens to exhaust her. She also is quick to point out that her students are – and have always been – incredibly influential and inspiring.

“All the children I work with, and that I’ve worked with in the past, have each been more of a teacher to me than I could ever explain,” she says.

All the children I work with, and that I’ve worked with in the past, have each been more of a teacher to me than I could ever explain.

Between the deadlines and workload of school, both being at the chalkboard and buried in books as a student herself, Mary has to find a way to blow off some steam. While yoga is great for mellowing her mood, she cites snowboarding with being the biggest stress-reliever. Her arctic air affair began four years ago, when her friends managed to get her on a mountain. Unfortunately, she didn’t start carving turns with grace and ease. “My first experience wasn’t a positive one,” she says. “By the the second time I went I managed to break my tailbone which put me out for the season. I felt very discouraged because I didn’t pick up the sport as easily as others. For years after that my close friend harassed me on a weekly basis, but my fear and aggravation of learning something new and difficult held me back.”

Continue reading Mary Joyce

Hope Boykin

Name: Hope Boykin
Age: 39
Location: New York City
Occupation: Choreographer, Dancer, Teacher

Hope Boykin spends her days with grace, both demonstrating it on stage and teaching her students how to best embody it. A New York transplant by way of Durham, North Carolina, Hope is a longtime member of the legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She’s a ballerina and a choreographer with an ardent love of helping others to better express themselves through dance.

Activity has always been important to Hope, so it’s no surprise that her career became a product of movement. “Dance and gymnastics were a part of my life since I was about three years old. My mother has always said that, after taking me to see a performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as a young child, I imitated the movements and danced around the house,” she says. Continue reading Hope Boykin