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

Movers & shakers

Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes joins education advocacy group Chiefs for Change

Katy Anthes (photo by Nicholas Garcia).

Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes has joined Chiefs for Change, a group of state- and district-level school chiefs advocating for reforms they believe will boost achievement for all students, the group announced Wednesday.

“I’m excited to continue working with fellow state and district Chiefs from around the country,” Anthes said in a statement. “Chiefs for Change members are courageous, effective, and laser-focused on students. It is a privilege to join their ranks and come together as a community to advocate for excellence and equity for all of our students.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush launched the organization in 2008 to promote his education agenda nationally, and it broke away from Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence in 2015 to become an independent nonprofit.

It has championed charter schools, the Common Core State Standards and other reforms. Over the last two years, Chiefs for Change has produced position papers on building a more diverse teacher workforce, expanding instructional choices, and school improvement strategies in the era of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law.

The group began as a coalition of state education leaders, then expanded its scope to include heads of school districts. Among its two-dozen members are Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg and Antwan Wilson, a former DPS hand who now leads the Washington, D.C., school district. Both men sit on the board of directors.

According to its most recent tax forms, Chiefs for Changes’ largest funders are Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Walton Family Foundation. The Walton Family Foundation also provides funding to Chalkbeat.

grant money

Denver charter Compass Academy wins $2.5 million to “reimagine high school”

PHOTO: Courtesy Compass Academy

A Denver charter middle school devoted to bilingualism and founded with help from City Year, an AmeriCorps program that deploys young adults to mentor and tutor at-risk students, has won a $2.5 million grant to help design and launch an innovative high school model.

The money is from the XQ Institute’s Super School Project, an initiative backed by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple’s Steve Jobs. XQ aims to “reimagine high school” by funding novel ideas. Last year, it gave $10 million each to 10 schools across the country.

Compass Academy in southwest Denver applied for one of those big grants. It didn’t win, but XQ gave the school a second look as part of an effort to bring more diversity in geography and school type to its “super schools,” said Monica Martinez, senior school support strategist for the California-based XQ. Compass will receive $2.5 million over the next five years.

“Their idea stood out to us,” Martinez said.

That idea is to pair personalized, community-based learning — dance classes at local studios, science classes at local hospitals — with the type of social and emotional support City Year corps members provide, such as checking in with kids who were absent the day before.

“There’s joy and love in this building,” said executive director Marcia Fulton. Compass students, she said, “feel that somebody understands, and they feel worth.”

Compass also aims to have every student graduate with a seal of biliteracy, a new credential that proves to colleges and employers they can communicate in at least two languages. That goal, Fulton said, was born of a desire expressed by families in the community.

The school opened in 2015 with just sixth grade. When classes begin again next week, Compass will be a full middle school with more than 300 students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Last year, 98 percent of students were students of color, 96 percent were eligible for subsidized lunch and 64 percent were English language learners.

Academically, Compass has struggled. Its first year, 14 percent of sixth-graders met or exceeded expectations on state math tests and just 8 percent met that bar in English. The school’s academic growth scores, which measure how much students learned in a year compared to their academic peers, also lagged behind school district averages.

XQ didn’t take the school’s test scores into account, Martinez said. The XQ grants, she said, “are based on a vision and an idea, and Compass was the same way.”

Fulton said the school “did not land where we wanted to land” on the state tests. But she said Compass has made shifts in its scheduling, staffing and approach that she hopes will drive higher academic achievement going forward. The school is currently rated “red,” the lowest category in Denver Public Schools’ color-coded school rating system.

“When you’re lifting up so many powerful components of design, it takes time,” Fulton said. “The funding is about an acknowledgement of the path we’re on. … We are being supported to say, ‘Keep doing what we know is important for all learners in the community.’”

Compass’s charter is for sixth through 12th grade. But Compass does not yet have a building for its high school. The Denver school board voted in 2015 to place Compass’s middle school in underutilized space on the Lincoln High School campus, a controversial decision that drew intense pushback from some Lincoln students, parents and teachers.

Compass has not asked DPS for space for its high school. In fact, Fulton said, the Compass board of directors has not yet decided when the high school will open. She said the board is “committed to identifying and investing in a private facility.”

Earlier this week, 13-year-old student Davonte Ford was at Compass, helping teachers set up their classrooms before the start of school. The rising eighth-grader came to Compass last year from a school where he said he “used to get in a lot of physical altercations.”

“I used to get frustrated sometimes,” he said. “If I got frustrated, I had no one to talk to.”

But at Compass, Ford said, it’s different.

“At this school,” he said, “I have someone to help me.”