Alcoa schools host regional intervention summit
By Matthew Stewart | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alcoa City Schools has called on East Tennessee’s education brain trust to learn about best teaching practices.
Administrators from eight East Tennessee school districts, including Alcoa City, Blount County, Knox County, Loudon County, Maryville City, Monroe County, Oak Ridge and Sevier County schools, gathered Thursday at Alcoa High School’s auditorium.
During the 3½-hour roundtable discussion, administrators discussed various topics related to student intervention services. They talked about current organizational structures, tools, differentiated classroom instruction, identifying students and designing, adopting and planning interventions.
Alcoa City Schools spent four months planning the summit, said Alcoa Director of Schools Brian Bell. The district elected to bring in local administrators rather than send employees to education conferences.
“We always want to look at our colleagues and see what they’re doing,” he said. “We want to know what’s successful and what’s not successful. PD (professional development) opportunities inject new DNA into Alcoa’s programs and processes.”
Administrators need professional development opportunities like other educators, Bell said. “We focus so much on teachers, but our school leaders need help as well. Our school leaders need to develop and mature as educators.”
Blount County and Maryville administrators benefitted from the summit, as well.
“I’ve heard a lot of great ideas and taken pages of notes,” said Carpenters Middle School Principal Mike Crabtree. “As an administrator, it’s very beneficial to hear from my peers. We have several pieces of intervention at Carpenters. We’re doing a good job, but we’d like to do a better job at what we’re doing.”
Carpenters Middle School is focusing on teacher collaboration, he said. “It’s an area of focus, because we want to work together to solve problems. I learned a great deal from Oak Ridge High School Assistant Principal David Bryant’s discussion about professional learning communities. They have put forth a lot of effort to make sure teachers are given the time they need to meet, collaborate and address areas of concern.”
Educators also appreciated knowing they’re on the right path.
“A lot of us are doing the same things, and everybody has the kids foremost in our minds,” said Maryville High School Assistant Principal Tracy Poulsen. “We want children to be successful in the building, successful outside of the building and successful in life. Our efforts boil down to the same thing: students.”
One of best opportunities out there
The summit was an invaluable experience for administrators, said Alcoa Middle School Principal Jim Kirk.
“As educators, we need to come together and share ideas,” he said. “It’s one of the best opportunities out there. We’ve been meeting all this year with Blount County and Maryville middle school principals. We’ve shared so much — and learned so much.”
In the last monthly meeting, Kirk and other administrators shared their student and teacher handbooks. “School systems aren’t operating like we did in the past. We’re taking the best things we’re doing and sharing them with each other. It’s helping all of us to offer the best professional opportunities out there. It’s also nice to know you’re not alone. Education can’t get any better right now.”