Iowa Drector of Education Ryan Wise is visiting schools getting to know what their needs are at the local level. In addition, he wants to see how some state programs are working. Many teachers in Clinton's school district are saying good things about Iowa's teacher leader program.
"It feels really good to be back working as a district rather than going in our own classrooms, shutting the door, and worrying about our own kids. We definitely have collaboration and much support with each other and administration," said Suzie Bell.
Bell is a literacy instructional coach at one of Clinton's elementary schools. She teaches 20 percent of the day. For the other 80 percent, she's helping coach other elementary teachers.
"We've had lots of new initiatives starting within our building, and been very busy with all the teachers and the students," Bell said.
It's all part of a statewide teacher leader grant program.
"The state is in the process of rolling out a statewide teacher leadership system, by the beginning of next year, it'll be $150 million each year that's put toward elevating the teaching profession and putting at least a quarter of Iowa's teachers into leadership roles," Wise said of the program.
Wise visited two Clinton schools to see how things were going. Clinton Community School District Superintendent Deb Olson says she appreciates his efforts to visit Iowa's schools.
"He makes himself very well available to every superintendent in the state of Iowa, and I feel very confident that if I have an issue, that I can go and speak to him about it, and I hope he feels the same way," Olson said.
Olson identified a few challenges facing Clinton's schools, one of which is early literacy. One in four children in Iowa has trouble reading by third grade.
"We've developed a state wide early warning system that helps teachers identify reading challenges that students are having," Wise said.
Olson says the teacher leadership program is also helpful in getting the district over some of its hurdles.
And the hope is the collaboration created by the teacher leaderhsip system can help teachers find new strategies to combat those kinds of problems.
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