A program to place effective teachers in front of more Ector County ISD students is expanding this coming school year to more campuses.
Executive Director of Talent Development Ashley Osborne said 10 campuses are going to be added to the Opportunity Culture arsenal. The district currently has eight Opportunity Culture campuses.
The ECISD website says Opportunity Culture is “an innovative approach to staffing that multiplies the impact of highly effective teachers, thereby improving student performance.”
“Opportunity Culture also enhances efforts to recruit and retain highly qualified instructors by offering career advancement opportunities, sustainable higher pay, and on-the-job professional development and support. Bringing Opportunity Culture to the Permian Basin is a result of partnerships with Public Impact, US PREP, and the University of Texas Permian Basin,” the site says.
The second set of campuses is being called cohort B.
“Those campus design teams made up of the principal and whoever else that the principal assigns to be on that campus design team are receiving training right now in the principles of Opportunity Culture, what are the benefits, how to think differently about staffing; also what are the roles within Opportunity Culture and then they are building their campus plan,” Osborne said.
“So they’re basically determining how many multi-classroom leaders they can have, what grade levels they need them at … They’re basically coming up with their staffing plan and that’s why we’re hiring for all of those positions …,” she added.
A multi-classroom leader, she said, is an excellent teacher who teaches students but also has a coaching responsibility. “So, they provide professional learning and coaching for teachers that are on their team,” Osborne said.
Applications are being taken from the area and outside of it.
“We encourage anyone, whether they’re from our district or an outside applicant, to apply,” Osborne said. “The process is very rigorous because the multi-classroom leaders have to show that they’re effective in the classroom with students …”
They also will have coaching responsibility.
“They have to submit artifacts such as student achievement data, student growth data, evaluation data, an essay and a letter of recommendation. They have to submit all those things and then they’re reviewed. If they meet a minimal threshold scoring with those artifacts then they’re interviewed at the district level. If they pass that level, then they are put into a pool where Opportunity Culture campuses can schedule interviews if that teacher meets whatever MCL need they have for their campus.
We have a priority deadline. We will accept applications beyond this deadline, but we do have a priority deadline of March 30,” Osborne said.
She said campuses will start hiring for these positions in early April and those hired would start next fall. There will be training over the summer. But there will be training over the summer, primarily for coaching since that is a large part of their job.
Overall, Osborne said Opportunity Culture has gone well.
“We’re excited about the progress that we’re seeing. What’s so awesome is we have such a great partnership with Public Impact who is the nonprofit that we’re partnering with to implement Opportunity Culture,” Osborne said.
Another thing that has come out of Opportunity Culture is a contribution to the district pipeline to get more skilled teachers into classrooms.
“We’re partnering with UTPB and USPREP to do that work,” Osborne said. “They’re supplying us with teacher residents that are part of this and the teacher resident partners with a multi-classroom leader. They’re seniors at the university. They will graduate with their bachelor’s and teaching cert, so they’re learning right alongside that multi-classroom leader.”
“We’ve had some really great outcomes from those teacher residents and we’re excited to hire them as teachers …,” she said.
She added that the goal of implementing Opportunity Culture is to get strong, effective teachers in front of the most at-risk students.
“That is ultimately the goal — to have more kids be taught by highly effective teachers and the way that we’re going to do that is by employing these great, great teachers and then growing other teachers that we employ.
Abigail Adame-Herrera, a seventh grade English teacher at Wilson and Young Medal of Honor Middle School, is a first-year teacher.
Adame-Herrera said Principal Anthony Garcia let her know that she would have a lot of support.
Adame-Herrera is from California.
“My husband was in the military and we lived in Killeen, Texas, which is like Central Texas, a military town. … He did like a training program for GM. And then Sewell was hiring out here. He ended up interviewing with them. We came out here. At the time when we came out here, I was still in my last semester of college. And so then I applied last summer to be a substitute teacher because I didn’t think I could get all the stuff that I needed to be a first-year teacher, but it ended up working out. I did. And then I applied. I decided to come here,” Adame-Herrera said.
Middle school wasn’t what she wanted to teach. She thought she wanted to instruct older students.
“… It just ended up that middle school positions were open” and the age group seemed right, she said.
Adame-Herrera said she was drawn to teaching because she had so many great teachers that changed her for the better.
“I just never believed in myself and my teachers always did and I wanted to I want to do that for someone. I want to be that for somebody else,” she added.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Arizona State University. She did her first two semesters in person and the rest online.
Adame-Herrera said she loves her profession so far.
“It’s more than I thought. Being a student for so long, it’s like now like you’re behind the scenes. It’s like when you watch movies, and you just see it all happen …,” she said.
She had heard and read about the negative aspects of teaching, but she hasn’t found that at Wilson and Young.
“… I think, because we’re united and we have that person to unite us (the multi-classroom leader). We just know that we can go to one another. And we constantly collaborate and we’re constantly sharing ideas. So never in this year how I felt like, Oh my gosh, I don’t know what I’m doing because I know there’s always somebody that I can reach out to. I have a feeling like that’s something special,” Adame-Herrera said.
For his part, Garcia said Opportunity Culture has helped build a collaborative environment of motivated teachers who are eager to learn and grow.
“I am excited to have a group of rock star teachers,” he said in a text message.