Humboldt CSD eager for ’14-15

HUMBOLDT – Humboldt Community School District is readying to apply its Iowa Teacher Leadership and Compensation System funds for the 2014-15 year.

Humboldt CSD was one of 39 districts in the state out of 146 to be awarded the funds in March.

With the funds, the district will create new positions to improve student achievement and the quality of instruction, Greg Darling, Humboldt CSD superintendent, said.

“We will have a mentor program,” Darling said. “We will have a mentor coordinator and mentors to help all new teachers to the school, not just first year teachers. And then we will also have incorporated curriculum leaders, which will oversee the curriculum so we’re meeting the needs for the 21st century.”

The district will also add instructional coaches.

“These coaches will aid with at-risk students, ELL (English language learner) students, low socioeconomic students,” Darling said. “They’ll be instrumental in helping with our professional development, and also literacy.”

Humboldt CSD already has many of these efforts in place, Darling said.

“I think that’s one of the reasons why we got the grant,” he said, “because we’re already doing things in our school that have made gains in student achievement and looking at ways to make improvements.”

In addition to kicking off its one-to-one initiative in 2014-15, the Humboldt school district is adding a technology integrationist.

“We’re going to have a teacher that helps teach our teachers about technology in the classroom, how to improve that,” Darling said. “They’re not working on computers, but they’re helping teachers develop plans for their classroom.”

With the new positions come new opportunities, Darling said.

“It’s a great opportunity for teachers to have more site-based management skills,” he said. “These teachers aren’t coming in to lower their work load. They are there to help coach them through different situations, from data to how to work with these students, to technology.”

According to Darling, teachers will benefit together from the new system.

“It gives them a sounding board, a peer, and helps them in the classroom and in the long run will help improve student achievement,” he said. “That’s the key to it all. When teachers have success or have support systems, they do a lot better. And when they do better and have different skills, then student achievement gets better.”

He added, “If we think our students are the same as they were 20 years ago, we’re mistaken. We’re looking at developing teacher skills to work for students of the 21st century.”

Darling said it is an exciting time for the Humboldt school district.

“It’s exciting, but then you have that anxiety, going, OK, what’s this going to look like?” he said. “Basically, this is all new to the state, so we’re the front-runners of this program, and we want to have success with it.”