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Ann Arbor Public Schools Lakewood Elementary School

Mr. Eddie Latour, Principal 344 Gralake Avenue Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Phone: 734-994-1953 Fax: 734-997-1952

January 1, 2019

To Whom It May Concern:

I am delighted to have this opportunity to write a letter of support for Ms. Catherine (Katie)
Kurilko. I have been the music teacher at Lakewood Elementary School for five years. This
semester, I had the pleasure of getting to know Ms. Kurilko while she student taught with me at
Lakewood Elementary School in Ann Arbor, MI.

Throughout her student teaching experience, Ms. Kurilko demonstrated consistent competence and
flexibility as an incredibly skilled young teacher. Ms. Kurilko is able to adjust her lesson plans in
the moment and in the best interest of student learning; when something does not go as planned or
anticipated, she changes her plans and delivery of instruction in the very next class. Her ability to
think about teaching while she is teaching demonstrates maturity in her understanding of
instructional sequencing and developmentally appropriate practices. Ms. Kurilko is also creative in
her planning. She takes risks and is willing to try new activities while maintaining a structured,
safe, engaging, and musically rich classroom environment. She provides an outstanding musical
model for students and has incorporated guitar, piano, trombone, recorder, and ukulele into her
instruction in musically and developmentally appropriate ways. Ms. Kurilko’s compelling
instruction draws students in with a genuine and caring demeanor with the goal of building musical
confidence and independence in all of her students.

Over the course of the semester, Ms. Kurilko connected with the members of our school community
in authentic and meaningful ways. She communicated with parents and other teachers by sending
positive emails home to the families of students who were musical and behavior leaders in class.
She also greeted students in the hallway every morning as they entered the building, addressed each
and every student by name in the classroom, and became familiar with their personalities and
individual interests. This knowledge of her students allowed Ms. Kurilko to differentiate instruction
in an informed way while simultaneously allowing her to take command of the classroom because
students feel safe, supported, seen, and known in her music class. Ms. Kurilko has developed strong
and consistent classroom management practices; she uses language in ways that empower and
support children and their learning. She has shown dedicated interest in reflecting on teacher
language—particularly reminding, reinforcing, and redirecting language—that is direct, specific,
and firm but caring.

In addition to being a poised and strong teacher, Ms. Kurilko is an ambitious and motivated learner
who continuously seeks new learning opportunities. She readily implemented the feedback she
received from university observers and observations, interactions with the school principal, and
from our meetings together. During her student teaching, she also attended district meetings in
addition to weekend workshops that focused on equity and inclusion in elementary general music
instruction. While it was great that she attended these workshops, it was her thoughtful reflection,
consideration, and implementation of the ideas discussed during the workshops that both impressed
and challenged me to critically reflect upon my own practices. I believe that Ms. Kurilko will
become—and already is—a leader in the profession.

I am confident that Ms. Kurilko will be an asset to the school community that has the opportunity to
welcome her as their music teacher. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I would be
delighted to talk with you about Ms. Kurilko!

Sincerely,

Amy L. Sierzega
preK-5 Vocal & Instrumental Music Teacher
Lakewood Elementary School
sierzega@a2schools.org