Tallahassee, Florida - August 8, 2012 -
Administrators within Leon County Schools — after a year when no school received a failing grade — are making sure teachers are prepared to tackle the changes coming to the district in the coming years.
Teachers are in the middle of a four-day, 32-hour training summit called "Courage to Lead." Superintendent Jackie Pons said this week's summit is meant to prepare teachers for the district-wide transition to the national "Common Core" standards and to prepare teachers for success in the upcoming school year.
The Common Core is a set of standards Leon County will adopt in 2014. So far 47 states have adopted the standards, said former Rickards Principal Michelle Gayle. All students within the core will be held accountable to these standards. Gayle now works in the district office as a divisional director.
"As we move forward, how are we going to teach?" he asked. "How are we going to be prepared so that our students, our teachers, our parents and our community are ready for this transition?"
Monday was the first day of the summit. Around 2,000 teachers from Leon and its surrounding counties came out to the Civic Center to hear Pons speak about the future of Leon County Schools. Other speakers included Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and Stuart Greenburg, the Director of School Improvement.
Carvalho delivered a relatively simple message — Leon County is about to undergo a major change, and the teachers here are the perfect people to be a part of that change.
"Innovation — if you do it right — leads to district-wide transformation," he said in his address to the crowd.
The teachers will continue their training today with lessons on the Common Core curriculum at Leon, Godby and Chiles high schools. Candace Gautney, a fifth-grade teacher at Ruediger Elementary School, said a positive aspect of the training comes from the people teaching the new standards. Teachers are being taught by other teachers, who have received the training in advance.
Familiarity with the instructors for the new curriculum makes the process much more comfortable, she said.
"We have teacher leaders coming in to teach us," she said. "It's nice to know we have people we know and people we are comfortable with training us. Depending on what school we're at, the questions could be different. "
Gayle said there will be some challenges with the new curriculum, however that's par for the course for any major change within a school system. She said the challenges will be made easier due to cooperation between teachers, administrators and Pons. The transition has already been made in kindergarten through second grade, she said, adding she's confident the remaining grade levels will be able to follow suit.
The new curriculum, she said, will prepare Leon students to become future leaders.
Monday morning she said seeing 2,000 teachers coming together to train gave her "chills."
"Just walking in and seeing all of our teachers coming in together, waiting to hear words of inspiration from the superintendent, I got chill bumps just seeing the enthusiasm on their faces."
Tallahassee, Florida - August 7, 2012 -
Leon County School teachers reported to a huge classroom. More than two thousand teachers got a lesson at the Leon County Tallahassee Civic Center.
They were taught leadership skills. The three day event is called "The Courage To Lead."
Dr. Robert Marzano is nationally acclaimed education reform expert. He spoke to the collection of teachers about development training.
Superintendent of Leon County Schools Jackie Pons says for the first time ever his district has been classified "a high performing district" by the Department of Education.
Teachers report back to school this Monday. Students begin the new school year on Monday, August 20th.
More than thirty three thousand students go the school in the Leon County Schools system.