This month’s spotlight is on Pitt County Schools’ Division of Education and Effective Leadership (DEEL). DEEL implements a unique “R3” grant which focuses on making strong teachers even stronger. “R3” stands for Recruit, Retain, Reward.

Seth Brown and Tom Feller are in their 3rd year of facilitating the 21 million dollar R3 grant. The federal portion of this grant, equaling 16 million dollars over a 5 year period, has only been given to 13 school districts in the nation, with Pitt County being the only school district in North Carolina to receive this funding. Our Executive Director had a chance to chat with Brown recently. Read on to discover some of the great support Brown and Feller are working to give teachers:

Briefly describe the main components of this grant, especially how it supports growth and leadership among all teachers.

We have a Key Beginning Teacher program that works with teachers for their first three years. Our Teacher Leadership Institute is a four year program that targets teachers who are in years 7-14 of teaching, providing them with a stipend to attend intensive training and carry out a project that will increase student success.  Our multi-classroom teachers, who also receive an additional stipend, are highly effective teachers who co-teach with a slightly less experienced teacher, providing mentorship, and hopefully encouraging the co teacher to use strategies that will have a greater impact on their students as they teach on their own in other classes.

How is this model of teacher leadership different from what teachers outside of Pitt County receive? 

We engage and empower teachers from the beginning of their career to the end of their career. We provide teacher stipends that encourage collaboration in order to determine best teaching practices. For example, if 4th grade math seems to be a problem area for a whole school, these facilitating and collaborating teachers can work together to develop the best strategies for teaching the material, collecting data and research that will help them implement best practices. When teachers effectively collaborate, they speed up their own growth and learning, leading to more kids being taught by highly effective teachers, and also to more teachers staying in the classroom for longer periods of time.

Why should parents know that this effort is being carried out in Pitt County? 

This is a specific effort to keep the best teachers in Pitt County. Every parent wants their child taught by the best teachers around. Parents want teachers to be well compensated, allowing them to focus on the skill they are best at–teaching–without the extra worry of second jobs. This grant allows us to provide extra compensation for many teachers, while providing training and mentoring for teachers who will soon become the best teachers themselves. As the cycle continues, we keep more teachers in the classrooms, providing more stability to schools and students.

What would you say to parents as they seek to be supportive of teachers?

Every person who takes on the role of being a teacher is in their heart trying to do what is best for kids. Communication is key. Every student has different needs. Ask questions. Make sure teachers know about your student and that you communicate with them to paint a picture of your student that allows the teachers to meet your student where they are and provide them with the most individualized instruction possible.