Building on progress at Cook

Building on progress at Cook
May 10
10:08 2018

Looking to build on the progress made in year one under a new instructional model, Cook Literacy Model School is adopting a new initiative that will extend teachers’ reach on more classrooms. 

According to principal and executive director Dr. Paula Wilkins, the initiative coined Reach to Excellence, is a rebranding of what it means to be a teacher leader at Cook. 

The initiative will consist of four new roles and nine positions with various responsibilities and expectations for each. For example, Multi-Classroom Teachers (MCL), one of the four new roles, will be responsible for coaching teachers, writing lesson plans and working with students in multiple classrooms.  MCL’s will also be held accountable for student outcomes.

Wilkins said MCL’s will serve as an intermediary between the teacher and the principal. 

“They are considered kind of like a lead teacher,” continued Wilkins. “When we get to a place where there are questions about results and accountability they’re held accountable for the results in that classroom even though they’re not always delivering the day-to-day instruction.” 

The second new role, Expanded Impact Teachers (ETC), will take on responsibilities with more students with help from the third new role known as Reach Associates. Similar to a teacher’s assistant, the ETC will also serve as a coach or mentor for the Reach Associate. 

The Cook Family will also look to add two additional positions for specialization teachers in reading and science. 

While discussing the new initiative and teacher leadership roles, Dr. Wilkins said she wants the community to know that this is not another restart model. She said, “The increased roles are related to increase in responsibility, accountability, and expectations.”

Wilkins, who took the reins of Cook in the summer of 2016 after the school was flagged as one of the lowest performing in the state, noted a lot of “pre-work” was done before the decision was made to implement the changes.  Although no other school in the local district has adopted the initiative Cook has launched, Wilkins said she and a team of teachers visited several schools in Charlotte that have been using the model for more than five years. 

“I visited several schools. I talked with instructional superintendents about their implementation. I talked to principals and we had a team of teachers make recommendations,” Wilkins continued. “… And the model recommendation they made was the model we went with.”

When asked why she thinks the new initiative will work at Cook, Wilkins said she has always been a believer in strong teachers and their ability to turn a school around. She said her goal is to create an environment that supports teacher and students success, and creates a continuum of teacher leaders. 

She said,” If teachers don’t get the proper training, coaching, and feedback they need this cannot work.
“One of the things that will be a huge part of this model is coaching and feedback. Not only for the teachers on a day-to-day basis in the classroom but for the additional teacher leaders.” 

“I can’t coach everybody in my building but vicariously through coaching other people I can.” 
For more information on the Reach to Excellence initiative, a full description of the new roles launched at Cook Literacy Model School is available on the school’s official web page. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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