principal pipeline

Here are 25 assistant principals who Gov. Haslam wants to see at the helm of schools

PHOTO: Vanderbilt University/Anne Rayner
The first class of the Governor's Academy for School Leadership convened with their mentors in February at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College of Education. The academy's second class was announced this week.

Twenty-five assistant principals in Tennessee have been selected to participate in a 2017 fellowship program aimed at cultivating and nurturing future school leaders.

The Governor’s Academy for School Leadership is a partnership of the state of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education, and local school districts. The program is designed to build Tennessee’s pipeline of highly trained principals, and the 2017 fellows will comprise its second class.

Effective school principals can be key players in improving schools for students and teachers alike, research says.

“We have raised expectations, invested more in education and are making huge strides in education in Tennessee,” Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday in announcing the 2017 fellows. “Our students and teachers have stepped up to the challenge, and we need strong school leadership to support them and continue the momentum.”

Each assistant principal will be paired with an experienced principal mentor and attend monthly training sessions and a week-long summer institute at Vanderbilt, as well as intern three days each month at a mentor’s school. After completing the academy, participants will be expected to pursue placement as a school principal in their district or region.

Fellows were nominated by their district’s director of schools and selected through an application and interview process conducted by the Governor’s Office, the Tennessee Department of Education and Vanderbilt University.

The academy’s 2017 fellows and mentors are:

Participants

  • Courtney Whitehead, Carpenters Middle, Blount County
  • Justin Whittenbarger, Homestead Elementary, Cumberland County
  • Andrea Bledsoe, Charlotte Elementary, Dickson County
  • Sarah Gray, Mosheim Elementary, Greene County
  • Lindsay Starnes, Calvin Donaldson, Hamilton County
  • Cameshia Emerson, Bolivar Central High, Hardeman County
  • Krista Mann, Rogersville Middle, Hawkins County
  • Victoria Perry, Humboldt Junior and Senior High, Humboldt City
  • Melanie Simpson, Piedmont Elementary,  Jefferson County
  • James Wernke, Ross Robinson Middle, Kingsport City
  • Joann Bost, Carter Middle, Knox County
  • Ashley Booher, Gibbs Elementary, Knox County
  • David Ayers, Lara Kendall Elementary, Lake County
  • Patty Franks, Summertown Elementary, Lawrence County
  • Emma McWeeney, LEAD Southeast, Metro Nashville
  • Danielle Beckman, Forrest Middle and High, Marshall County
  • Shavoncia Watts, E.A. Cox Middle, Maury County
  • Marquis Churchwell, Joelton Middle Prep,  Metro Nashville
  • Celia Jolly, Overton High, Metro Nashville
  • Sandra Paschall,  Rhea Elementary, Paris Special School District
  • Chelsea Spaulding, Riverdale High, Rutherford County
  • Holly Kidder,  Sweetwater Junior High, Sweetwater City
  • Nathan Wade, Union County High, Union County
  • Bethany Wilson, West Wilson Middle, Wilson County
  • Candice Miller, Georgian Hills Elementary, Achievement School District

Mentors

  • April Herron, Middlesettlements Elementary, Blount County
  • Jennifer Magnusson, North Cumberland Elementary, Cumberland County
  • Crysti Sheley, Centennial Elementary, Dickson County
  • Amy Brooks, Nolachuckey Elementary, Greene County
  • Emily Baker, Brown Academy, Hamilton County
  • Darlene Cardwell, Middleton High, Hardeman County
  • Thomas Floyd, Cherokee High, Hawkins County
  • Jonathan Kee, Huntingdon High, Humboldt City
  • Michelle Walker, Maury Middle, Jefferson County
  • Chris Hampton, Dobyns-Bennett High, Kingsport City
  • Christine Oehler, Powell Middle, Knox County
  • Kristi Woods, East Knox Elementary, Knox County
  • Suzanne Keefe, Halls High, Lake County
  • Christy Crews, Ethridge Elementary, Lawrence County
  • Tait Danhausen, Cameron: A LEAD Public School, Metro Nashville
  • John Bush, Marshall County High, Marshall County
  • Leigh Ann Willey, Santa Fe Unit, Maury County
  • Kevin Armstrong, Dupont Hadley Middle Prep, Metro Nashville
  • Clint Wilson, Glencliff High, Metro Nashville
  • Norma Gerrell, Paris Special, Paris Special School District
  • Larry Creasy, Siegel High, Rutherford County
  • Heather Henry, Brown Intermediate, Sweetwater City
  • Greg Clay, Horace Maynard Middle, Union County
  • Christine Miller, Stoner Creek Elementary, Wilson County
  • Anne Thomas, Pathways in Education, Achievement School District

New role

Principal Donna Taylor retiring from Brooklyn School of Inquiry, moving to DOE

PHOTO: Christina Veiga
Kindergarten students at Brooklyn School of Inquiry

Brooklyn School of Inquiry Principal Donna Taylor announced this week she is stepping down from her position next month.

Taylor, who has been with the Bensonhurst school since it opened in 2009, will take a position with the Department of Education, where she will support principals implementing progressive education and gifted and talented programs — two focuses of BSI. The school, which runs from kindergarten to eighth grade, is one of five gifted and talented schools open to children citywide.

“BSI was created by a team who believes that students need an inquiry-based, arts-infused curriculum, steeped in technology, where everyone is encouraged to think critically,” Taylor said in a statement. “We came together down here in Bensonhurst to grow our practice and build capacity. I am proud of the work I’ve done together with the school’s community to build and grow BSI.”

Her announcement comes the same week that BSI graduated its first cohort of eighth-graders. Moving forward, Taylor is working with other school staff and her superintendent, Karina Constantino, to ensure a smooth transition. A new principal has not yet been named.

BSI is the only citywide gifted school that participates in the city’s Diversity in Admissions program. The admissions pilot allows principals to set aside a percentage of seats for students who are low-income, English learners or meet other criteria. In the case of BSI, the school set aside 40 percent of its available kindergarten seats for low-income students.

While it met that target in its admissions offers this year, it had few open seats because siblings of current BSI students get priority. That meant that only 20 slots were reserved for low-income students.

It will be up to Taylor’s successor, alongside city officials, to decide where to take the pilot program next.

“We have no way of knowing what the new leadership will do or who they will be or what their position will be on the program,” said Sara Mogulescu, the parent of two children currently studying at BSI. “But I know there is a very strong core of commitment to that pilot and to continue to strengthen our community in all kinds of ways, regardless of whether Donna is the principal.”

Despite her many accomplishments, Taylor’s eight years at the helm of BSI were not without controversy. In 2014, Taylor made headlines for a comment she made at an open-house meeting at BSI. She remarked to prospective parents, “If you don’t speak Spanish, you’re going to clean your own house.” Taylor subsequently apologized.

Mogulescu said Taylor had built a solid foundation at BSI, and she and other parents were confident about the school’s future — and Taylor’s.

“As much as we are all sad to see her go,” she said, “I think the parents take solace in the fact that she is going to be spreading her wisdom and experience to other schools.”

planning ahead

Big assignment for group of Colorado education leaders: rethink the state’s education priorities

File photo of student at Marrama Elementary School in northeast Denver. (The Denver Post)

A newly constituted group of educators, lawmakers and state officials led by Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne will be charged with creating a sweeping new strategic plan for education in Colorado.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order this week giving that task to a reconstituted Education Leadership Council, which formed in 2011 but has become inactive.

The new-look council will identify statewide priorities for how to better educate the state’s children so they can contribute to Colorado’s workforce, according to the order.

In an interview Thursday with Chalkbeat, Lynne said she expects the plan to include recommendations for how the governor’s office, relevant state departments, the legislature or others can work toward the state’s goals.

The group will begin meeting in August and will spend its first year setting priorities. It is supposed to give recommendations for possible legislation by 2018 or 2019.

Lynne said various state departments and groups already work on initiatives tied to education, but “we don’t have a place where we weave it all together.”

For example, Lynne said, the group could examine whether certain districts still need help getting access to the internet, whether students are being introduced to STEM careers early enough and whether graduates are prepared for the workforce.

Having a strategic plan and clear goals for what schools should be accomplishing could also give officials a better chance of changing school finance, Lynne said, if the group determines that is needed. Reports routinely rank Colorado near the bottom in per pupil funding among states.

“I think it’s hard when people want to talk about changing school finance or they want to address things like compensation for teachers, if you don’t have the core foundation of what do we want to achieve and how do we get there,” Lynne said.

Bipartisan legislation introduced this spring would have created a group with similar goals, but Republicans killed the so-called “vision” bill. Critics said the bill would have created more state bureaucracy and potentially conflicted with school districts’ strategic plans, and called it a ploy to ultimately ask taxpayers for more money.

Lynne said the group commissioned by the governor — which will have as many as 25 members — will include a diverse group of people representing different interests across the state to ensure local districts have a say in the statewide work. It will include directors from five state departments, a superintendent, a school board member, a teacher and a principal.

The original Education Leadership Council was commissioned in 2011 by a Hickenlooper executive order. Recently the group stopped meeting. Members’ terms had expired, and excitement had decreased after the 2013 defeat of Amendment 66, which would have raised taxes for schools. The council helped push for the measure.

When Lynne succeeded Joe Garcia as lieutenant governor, she said she knew she wanted to revive the group.

Her office started planning to regroup the Education Leadership Council in late 2016 before the legislature considered the same work, but she said she paused while legislators considered their bill. When that effort failed, Lynne said her office got back to organizing the council.

The group, Lynne said, will work under a shorter timeline than the one outlined in the failed bill.

Rep. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican who sponsored the “vision” bill, said the council is the right avenue for this kind of work.

“The legislature is not suited for long-term strategic thinking,” Rankin said. “It’s more about shorter-term action. This is a better way to do it — with our involvement.”

Sponsors of the vision bill, including Rankin, will be part of the leadership council.

Here is a copy of the executive order:



EO Education (Text)