BY KARISSA MILLER
Iredell-Statesville Schools was recently awarded a federal Teacher and School Leader program grant totaling approximately $22 million.
“This grant will also allow us to grow our own pipeline of teachers within the district. We realize how important it is to find local teachers who are invested in our community,” explained I-SS Executive Director of Secondary Education Kelly Cooper.
According to Cooper, the purpose of the grant, which will be paid over three years, is to increase student academic achievement and improve equitable access to effective educators in the district’s high-needs schools.
The program, entitled STRIVE: Supporting Teachers and Redesigning Incentives using Value-added measures of Effectiveness, will impact 474 teachers, 28 leaders and 5,673 students in the district’s 12 lowest-performing, highest-poverty schools.
The 12 schools included in the grant include:
• Celeste Henkel Elementary
• Third Creek Elementary
• Cloverleaf Elementary
• Pressly Alternative School
• East Elementary
• East Middle
• Harmony Elementary
• Third Creek Middle School
• N.B. Mills Elementary
• West Middle
• Scotts Elementary
• Statesville High School
The funds will also be used to purchase a new Human Resources system that will work with PowerSchool.
Some district teachers would also receive incentives to become “teacher leaders.” For example, a high performing teacher would serve more students by helping another teacher with lesson plans, giving that teacher an opportunity to grow within that school.
“One of the things that we struggle with a lot of times is our best teachers leave to be able to move up in their profession. They move into principalships and assistant principalships and this would try to keep and retain those teachers in the classrooms,” Cooper said.
I-SS will work with Western Carolina University, Mitchell Community College and UNC-Charlotte to help grow their own teachers. Cooper explained some of the grant funds will be used to help teacher assistants become teachers.
Additionally, the grant will also target high school students. These students could take two college-level education courses in high school to give them a head start on their teaching degree.