Ottumwa Schools Teacher Leadership


OTTUMWA—The Ottumwa Community School District is one of 39 districts across the state that have been selected to launch a teacher leadership system. The award was announced today by Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, and Iowa Department of Education director Brad Buck. Ottumwa scored in the top 10 of all applications scored. Only two other districts served by Great Prairie Area Education Agency were selected.

“These additional funds and greater supports in the Teacher Leadership program are critical to achieving long-lasting success toward our mission of a quality education for each and every student,” said Eric Sundermeyer, associate superintendent and author of the district’s successful application. “As most progressive schools in the state, Ottumwa has ratcheted up expectations for students and staff to help meet Iowa Core demands.”

According to a news release posted on the Iowa Department of Education’s website, 146 school districts applied to be in the first group. “Top teachers taking on leadership roles to improve instruction and raise student achievement is the centerpiece of Iowa’s landmark 2013 education reform package. New teacher leadership systems across Iowa will allow teachers to work in greater collaboration with colleagues and learn from each other instead of operating largely in isolation in their classrooms. Teacher leadership systems will be phased in over three years, with the goal of all districts participating by 2016-17, although whether to do so is a local decision.”

Ottumwa’s plan was developed by a team of 11 teachers, administrators, and parents. Team members included: Missy Carson-Roark, principal; Davis Eidahl, superintendent; Brooke Fischels, Kathie Mason, Kevin McGinity, and Ann Weilbrenner, teachers; Terri Hudachek, media specialist; Kathy Mobley, school improvement coach; Kristi Ridgway, instructional technology coach; Eric Sundermeyer, associate superintendent; Shannon Vesely, school improvement leader; and Teri King, Lori Reeves, and Julie Thomas, parents.

Although Ottumwa places a high priority on instructional leadership with principals, the district realized that schools in the 21st century can’t be run by principals alone. The framework proposed will allow the district to distribute leadership throughout the system and encourages teachers to take a greater role in both their own professional development and the school improvement process. The plan will not replace current leadership positions. It will create multiple, meaningful, and differentiated teacher leadership roles and bolster the structure already in place.

Components of the plan include:

● Added support for beginning educators and their mentors

● Hiring additional instructional coaches throughout the district

● Selecting 15 department heads

● Hiring two instructional technology coaches

● Hiring up to three additional curriculum leaders with a strong focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)

“The Ottumwa Community School District continues to be recognized as a leader in Iowa,” said Davis Eidahl, superintendent. “ This grant means an additional $1.4 million dollars to compensate teacher leadership efforts to improve student achievement.”