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Teachers as Leaders
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Kenneth Proctor, Newton County School System co-director of elementary curriculum, also directs the system's professional learning program "Teachers as Leaders."

"This is one of the most exciting initiatives in my 20 years in education," Proctor said.

The Teachers as Leaders program builds the participants' abilities to facilitate professional learning needed to improve schools and assure Adequate Yearly Progress goals mandated by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act are met.

Last spring, candidates submitted an application including a recommendation from their school principal to the NCSS central office. One candidate was selected from each of the county's 20 schools.

"These teachers have demonstrated leadership skills and also the ability to direct their colleagues," said Steve Whatley, superintendent of Newton County Schools.

Proctor pointed out the program is voluntary and does not earn the participants any extra pay.

"They didn't ask how much I'm I going to get paid for this," said Linda Hayden, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, "but they have assumed a long list of duties."

Although the teachers do not earn more money through the program, they do gain the experience needed to eventually apply for a school administration position and did receive a bit of tangible incentive.

"They all got a projector they can use in their professional learning," Proctor said, "and when not in professional learning, they can use it in their classrooms with their students."

During the summer those chosen participated in a two-day workshop discussing how to intervene if a child needs movement into a special needs education program or gifted program.

They were also trained in how to re-deliver content learned at the workshop to their adult coworkers.

"They work with children all day," Proctor said, "and it's very different when you are standing in front of a group of adults."

Teacher Leaders will meet with teachers from their schools monthly to present what they learn in their seasonal workshops.

In October, November and January teacher leaders will provide their colleagues more information about strategies for intervention as well as standards-based and comprehension instruction.

Topics for the February workshop are still being determined.

Proctor said the program was set up not only to provide teachers with leadership experience but also to improve new teacher retention rates and assist the Board of Education with the goals outlined in its recently unveiled strategic plan.

Proctor thanked the participating teachers, who were recognized and granted certificates of appreciation, at Tuesday night's board meeting for all their hard work.

"Dr. Proctor, we need to thank you too," said Sandra Albritton, Clements Middle School teacher, "because your work has made it easy for us."