Chalkboard Project Staff
Abby grew up outside of Chicago in Evanston, Illinois, and attended Colorado College in Colorado Springs. She graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Education. During her undergraduate experience, she researched inequalities within public schools while also student teaching in elementary schools throughout the Colorado Springs area. After graduating, Abby participated in the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs in Saint Louis. Abby is a new member of the Chalkboard Project and couldn’t be more excited about being part of such an innovative and creative team.
Nearly 60 years ago, the court ruling Brown v. Board of Education recognized that “education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. It is the very foundation of good citizenship.” The ruling also made the claim that desegregation would benefit all students and that providing students with inclusive educational opportunities from an early age is crucial to achieving the nation’s educational and civic goals. Years later, however, we continue to struggle with this issue. Some people still ask the question: what kinds of benefits stem from a diverse classroom?
As a product of a racially diverse public school system outside of Chicago, I believe that my classroom experience provided me with incalculable educational and civic benefits. However, I find measuring and identifying those benefits extremely difficult. While growing up, it never occurred to me that I was actively breaking down racial stereotypes or becoming a more culturally sensitive person. Instead, I found that being around students and teachers who were different than me was just the norm. In a way, I believe that that is the overall intended outcome: being comfortable and motivated to participate in a heterogeneous and multifaceted society. Right?
Last week, Dan Jamison and I were invited to help facilitate the Mid-Valley Boys and Girls Club staff retreat in Lincoln City. This Boys and Girls Club serves kids in the Mid-Willamette Valley area within the Albany, Sweet Home and Lebanon school districts and provides a fun, safe and supervised environment for recreational and educational activities. Dan and I were particularly excited about this retreat because Albany and Lebanon happen to be two of our 18 CLASS districts.
Chalkboard was invited to this retreat to provide the Boys and Girls Club with an introduction to the CLASS Project, share current state and federal education policy issues, and also provide a snapshot of some of Oregon’s student data. And we were happy to join, always wanting to build our outreach and share important education-related information with communities throughout the state. This was also a great opportunity for the Boys and Girls Club staff to gain a better understanding of what’s going on with the students and teachers within their school districts—particularly those involved in CLASS.
It also wasn’t hard to say yes to a day at the coast, in Lincoln City where the retreat was held. The day promised to be full of hard work, creative thinking, and a bit of an ocean breeze. And after teaching for 32 years in Albany and serving as a principal at all three levels in the Greater Albany School District, Dan was excited to engage with the club. He even ran into some of his former students!
Chalkboard was busy last week getting ready and co-hosting (with Social Venture Partners Portland) an inspiring evening with the author of Do More Than Give, Leslie Crutchfield. Over 150 foundation leaders, philanthropists, community organizers, teachers, and trustees gathered at Friends of the Children in Northeast Portland to hear the esteemed nonprofit strategist and author speak about re-conceptualizing philanthropy and discuss how donors can address world issues by going beyond just donating money. It’s a call to action. Leslie’s book highlights donors who have already committed to catalyzing real change in the world.
As Leslie walked among the seated guests, she informed the crowd that philanthropy is growing and changing. It is not just the top 1% of the country giving to charities. In fact, the average household now gives $1,400 a year. Today, over $300 billion is donated annually to nonprofits, while private foundations have nearly doubled and community foundations nearly tripled in the last two decades. Whatever the good intentions, this still begs the question: Is giving money to a cause simply enough? Well, no.
As the 2010/2011 school year comes to an end, the CLASS districts have a lot to celebrate! This past Wednesday, 14 Oregon school districts came together in Salem to share highlights about their creative and innovative work, connect with other districts and hear from two national leaders. This powerful delivery came from the teachers, union representatives and administrators who have lived and breathed the CLASS Project work.
A few district highlights…
Forest Grove’s Assistant Superintendent, Dave Willard, began with a powerful presentation on the challenges and successes of his district’s CLASS work. He described the ways in which his district started to rethink their approach to professional development. For example, his district administrators took time to practice providing positive and constructive feedback to their teachers by asking effective questions and listening to each other.
Suzanne West, a middle school humanities teacher in the Sherwood School District, described her district’s work with CLASS as becoming fully integrated into their school system and school culture. In fact, she found that colleagues were becoming less familiar with the term “CLASS Project” because their work was feeling less like a temporary project and more just their standard way of daily life at school.
In the Sisters School District, three teachers—Justin Nichols, Kristy Rawls and Norma Pledger—opened up their presentation by explaining that they got involved with CLASS to “get better at what we do and improve the education of kids in Sisters.” They went on to describe a new evaluation tool in which teachers created a mock lesson plan, filmed it, and staff were able to use that footage to provide feedback to each other.
Juliet Safier, Vernonia’s Association President, described her district’s process of redesigning their professional development system and was excited that everyone was able to be at the table. Whether it was administrators, teachers or “Goddess Extraordinaires” (aka their wonderful administrative assistants), staff members were working together and felt ownership around the progress that they were making.
Our two keynote speakers also provided a fascinating and relevant national context. The first, Tabitha Grossman, is a senior policy analyst at the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices. She has worked as a teacher, school counselor and administrator in school districts in the central Virginia region. During her presentation, she shared her work with several states to redesign models of teacher pay. She provided the political framework and admitted that she was frustrated that so many of the policy makers in Washington DC “had never been educators.” She was energized by the CLASS work and found it powerful to be in a room of teachers and educators who were taking the lead.
Our second speaker, Louise Sundin, is the executive vice president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, and a career ninth-grade English teacher. She provided a lively presentation on the importance of teachers being in the drivers seat and being the agents of change: “If you are not at the table making the changes, then they will inevitably be made to you. We need to be part of the process.” After her presentation, Louise shared that she was blown away by the high level of work and collaboration in the CLASS districts.
For those not yet familiar, the CLASS Project (Creative Leadership Achieves Student Success) is a program that empowers educators and administrators to work collaboratively to design career paths, relevant professional development, effective performance evaluations and new compensation models. If you are interested in learning more about the project, please visit: http://educators4reform.org.
Thank you to all of the fabulous school districts who joined us on Wednesday! Watch video clips from the day here.
The Chalkboard Project is excited to hear that Dr. Nancy Golden, Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, has been appointed to serve as Governor Kitzhaber’s Education Advisor.
Throughout her career, Dr. Golden has been a strong advocate for public education. In addition to being Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, Dr. Golden has served as the Deputy Superintendent in the Albany School District and Staff Development and Special Education Director in the Eugene School District. Dr. Golden recently received the Superintendent of the Year Award from the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) and the University of Oregon’s Leading for Leadership award.
Congratulations, Dr. Golden! Chalkboard looks forward to working with you and the rest of the Governor’s office to strengthen teaching and learning in Oregon.
Read more about Dr. Golden’s transition on the Springfield website: http://www.sps.lane.edu/sps/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=278883
After recently starting to explore the possibility of becoming a high school history teacher, I have come across a number of fellowships and graduate programs. I have come across multiple programs that focus on providing specialized teacher training while simultaneously providing the opportunity to teach in high-need schools. One of the most well known programs that I have come across is Teach for America (TFA).
More specifically, Teach for America aims to place new teachers in low performing schools around the country. One of the most contentious aspects, however, is how new these teachers are to the profession. People that enter the program start teaching after three months of specialized TFA teacher training.
Despite the economic downturn, Teach for America is currently expanding their teacher placements through a recent $50 million grant from the federal government. Just last month, there was an announcement that Seattle might be joining the Teach for America network and will potentially place 50 of its recruits into the Puget Sound schools next fall. Seattle will be the first location within the Pacific Northwest. (more…)