Future of Teaching

Indianapolis Public Schools names Teacher of the Year, a librarian dedicated to finding a story for every student

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Kathleen Rauth was named Indianapolis Public Schools Teacher of the Year.

Indianapolis Public Schools librarian Kathleen Rauth has a mission: Making sure that the students she works with can read books that reflect their lives and broaden their horizons.

Each day, she spends a few hours reading blogs and roving for titles online, said Rauth, who was named IPS Teacher of the Year at a surprise ceremony today in the gym of the Center for Inquiry at School 27, where she was joined by her family and hundreds of students.

Rauth is always looking for empowering stories that go beyond the traditional narrative of African American families in poverty or Hispanic families sneaking across the border. Those stories can be harder to find, she said, but they exist.

“If I’m going to ask children to value reading and value being engaged with me and inquiry,” she said, “then I have to value what they are bringing to the table.”

Recently, Rauth has been trying to build up the collection of books about children with same-sex parents, she said. A little girl ran up to tell Rauth that she had found a book with “two daddies,” she said.

“She said, ‘I have two daddies!’ and I said, ‘yeah, I know you do,’ ” Rauth said.

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Kathleen Rauth has taught for more than three decades.

Rauth began her career as a creative drama teacher and taught in the classroom before becoming a librarian nine years ago. She spent most of her 30-year career teaching in Chicago before coming to Indianapolis three years ago.

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee presented Rauth with the Teacher of the Year award.

“I am the son of a retired media specialist,” Ferebee said. “I know personally what you do to advance literacy.”

As IPS teacher of the year, Rauth will represent educators across the district, sharing her approach to teaching with other educators. Rauth, who was one of 10 finalists for the award, will also have a chance to become Indiana Teacher of the Year in 2017.

Rauth splits her time between CFI at School 2 and at School 27 — making this the third year in a row that a teacher from CFI at School 2 won IPS teacher of the year.

For Rauth, the recognition was an unexpected honor.

“It’s crazy. I don’t feel like I do anything more than what a really good teacher does everywhere,” she said. “I’m speechless, which doesn’t happen that often.”


Aurora school board reverses course, accepts finding that district should have negotiated bonuses with union

Students in a math class at Aurora Central High School in April 2017. (Photo by Yesenia Robles, Chalkbeat)

Following weeks of criticism, the Aurora school board on Tuesday reversed course and accepted an arbitrator’s finding that a pilot bonus system violated the district’s agreement with the teachers union.

The Aurora school district rolled out an experiment last year to offer bonuses to some teachers and other staff in hard-to-fill positions, such as psychologists, nurses and speech language pathologists.

The teachers union argued that the plan should have been negotiated first. An arbitrator agreed and issued a report recommending that the pilot program stop immediately and that the district negotiate any future offerings. The union and school board are set to start negotiations next month about how to change teacher pay, using new money voters approved in November.

When school board members first considered the arbitrator’s report last month, they declined to accept the findings, which were not binding. That raised concerns for union members that the district might implement bonuses again without first negotiating them.

Tuesday’s new resolution, approved on a 5-1 vote, accepted the full arbitrator’s report and its recommendations. Board member Monica Colbert voted against the motion, and board member Kevin Cox was absent.

Back in January 2018, school board members approved a budget amendment that included $1.8 million to create the pilot for incentivizing hard-to-fill positions. On Tuesday, board member Cathy Wildman said she thought through the budget vote, the school board may have allowed the district to create that incentive program, even though the board now accepts the finding that they should have worked with union before trying this experiment.

“It was a board decision at that time to spend that amount on hard-to-fill positions,” Wildman said.

Board president Marques Ivey said he was not initially convinced by the arbitrator’s position, but said that he later read more and felt he could change his vote based on having more information.

Last month, the Aurora school board discussed the report with its attorney in a closed-door executive session. When the board met in public afterward, it chose not to uphold the entire report, saying that the board could not “come to an agreement.” Instead board members voted on a resolution that asked the school district to negotiate any future “long-term” incentive programs.

Union president Bruce Wilcox called the resolution “poorly worded” and slammed the board for not having the discussion in public, calling it a “backroom deal.” Several other teachers also spoke to the board earlier this month, reminding the newest board members’ of their campaign promises to increase transparency.

Board members responded by saying that they did not hold an official vote; rather the board was only deciding how to proceed in public. Colorado law prohibits schools boards from taking positions, or votes, in private.

The board on Tuesday also pushed the district to provide more detailed information about the results of the pilot and survey results that tried to quantify how it affected teachers deciding to work in Aurora.

story slam

The state of teacher pay in Indiana: Hear true stories told by local educators

It’s time to hear directly from educators about the state of teacher pay in Indiana.

Join us for another Teacher Story Slam, co-hosted by the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Chalkbeat Indiana, and Teachers Lounge Indy. Teacher salaries are the hot topic in education these days, in Indiana and across the country. Hear from Indianapolis-area teachers who will tell true stories about how they live on a teacher’s salary.

Over the past two years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from the teachers, students, and leaders of Indianapolis through our occasional series, What’s Your Education Story? Some of our favorites were told live during teacher story slams hosted by Teachers Lounge Indy.

Those stories include one teacher’s brutally honest reflection on the first year of teaching and another teacher’s uphill battle to win the trust of her most skeptical student.

Event details

The event will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, March 15, at Clowes Court at the Eiteljorg, 500 W Washington St. in Indianapolis. It is free and open to the public — please RSVP.

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