School Ambassadors Take an Interpretive Approach

By Kelley, Michael | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), January 22, 2013 | Go to article overview

School Ambassadors Take an Interpretive Approach


Kelley, Michael, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)


Three Memphis teachers chosen to help other teachers climb the ladder of success had never met before sitting for a group interview in the communications office at Memphis City Schools. They all had the same idea, however, about what the key to their success would be.

I suspect we're going to do a lot of data interpreting, said Edna Williams, who teaches math and science at Vollentine Elementary.

I see the data as being important, to look at the data, said Middle College High School science teacher Pierre Jackson.

We are really datadriven, so I would like to really push that at other schools, said Danielle Ringold, who teaches social studies at Kingsbury Middle.

Williams, Jackson and Ringold were among 15 Tennessee teachers, all of whom have earned an overall 5, the top score on Tennessee's teacher evaluations, who will leave classrooms in high-achieving schools next fall to spend a year helping raise test scores and close achievement gaps in schools where the data is not so great.

They're on the ground floor of a new Tennessee Department of Education program that enlists highly effective teachers from the state's top schools to share best practices across the state in what's known as Reward Schools Ambassador Program, which also provides a $20,000 grant to each of their schools to further their educational programming.

Being a public school teacher in Shelby County, they say, means remaining focused despite the controversy swirling about education that has been produced by the merger of city and county schools, efforts to develop separate suburban municipal schools and the controversial school reform movement. It also means focusing on statistics.

You have no choice. It's mandatory, Williams said.

It's the law of the land, Jackson said.

And it's a good thing, Ringold said. It gives the kids an understanding of what they can shoot for and how they compare and how accomplished they are. And it helps us as teachers understand what we need to work harder on, which is really important.

Particularly deep into the weeds of data is Ringold, a social studies teacher originally from Ohio who has been teaching four years and whose Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) data showed her seventh-grade students' achievement level advancing by the equivalent of six years in a school year. …

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