With the third quarter of the school year wrapping up, Union School District administrators are reflecting on several new roles in the district.
This year, the district implemented a new system that includes administrative interns at most of the district’s buildings.
Interns are present in Clark-Vitt, the middle school and Beaufort Elementary. Central Elementary has co-principals and the high school has an associate and assistant principal present in the building.
The interns help with day to day operations, discipline issues, scheduling and other tasks.
“The building level principal needs to be an instructional leader in that building,” said Steve Bryant, superintendent. “Without the support of an assistant, they could get bogged down in the management side of the building.”
Bryant added that time saved by the interns, assistants and co-principal helping with day-to-day tasks allows principals to be in the classroom.
“It’s gone extremely well in that the principals have been able to be in the classroom doing walkthroughs and teacher evaluations,” Bryant said. “We have data to prove that they’ve been in the classrooms much more than in previous years because of this model.”
Bryant said Washington and Rockwood school districts both use similar models.
Aaron Jones, assistant superintendent, said that so far this year, principals are averaging about six to eight observations per teacher compared to two or three last year.
The district also adopted the “Network for Educator Effectiveness” (NEE), an evaluation system that serves as a growth model for teachers.
“This is where the instructional leadership comes in,” Bryant said, adding that by being present in classrooms, building principals can offer suggestions and strategies to increase student engagement and help teachers grow professionally.
Interns have been trained in the new evaluation model for teachers, Jones noted, adding that they could help with evaluations if needed.
In addition to helping building principals with daily tasks, the system helps reduce behavior problems, Bryant said.
“When students are actively engaged, which is what happens when everyone is on task, you tend to have lower discipline referrals,” he said. “As this system progresses, we should have more time for interns and assistants to help with (classroom) instruction.”
While principals and assistant principals serve a 12-month contract, interns have a contract similar to a teacher’s contract, only with 10 additional days built in. Those days allow for the interns to arrive before school starts to learn the process.
Bryant said he will recommend to the board that the new model continue through the district in the 2014-15 school year.
Interns are Kendra Fennessey, Beaufort Elementary; Rhea Summers, Clark-Vitt Elementary; and Aaron Burd, Union Middle School.