Archive for the ‘Teacher Initiative’ Category

Bossardet gets into the spirit of teaching

November 16th, 2005

By Jeff Commings


Rebecca Bossardet is on a quest.

The native Tucsonan doesn’t like to see teachers who don’t care about their students, and she’s trying to instill a sense of pride and motivation in her colleagues.

She remembers those emotionless teachers from her years as an elementary school student, though she also can recall many supportive educators.

“They weren’t warm; they weren’t nurturing,” Bossardet, 43, said of some of her former teachers. “It was like they were there for a paycheck.”
Sadly, she’s seeing the same kind of teachers in schools throughout Tucson.

“Learning should be fun,” she said. “It should be something you should enjoy doing, and if you’re not enjoying it, you shouldn’t be in the classroom.”

Bossardet can’t imagine herself anywhere but inside a classroom. Being named a winner in the 2005 Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona’s Exemplary Teacher Initiative – which honors teachers who do good work in schools with more than 70 percent of students on free or reduced-price lunch – proves her nine years at the South Side Liberty Elementary School, 5495 S. Liberty Ave., have been worth it.

Bossardet will receive $10,000 in savings bonds, attend a banquet with other Rodel winners and Gov. Janet Napolitano, and mentor a University of Arizona education senior each semester for the next three years.

The Phoenix-based Rodel Foundation picked Bossardet and three other winners from more than 800 Tucson-area teachers. The Arizona Daily Star is profiling the winners this week.

Bernie Cohn, principal at Liberty, said Bossardet’s potential as one of the state’s leading teachers came to light three years ago.

“From Day One, she wanted to be the best at what she does,” said Cohn, who hired Bossardet at Liberty. “Once the state came in with AIMS, all teachers took it seriously, but I think she took it extra seriously that all kids she touched would do well.”

Surprisingly, Bossardet tends to believe that teachers – and possibly parents – might find a lot of the things she does in the classroom a little unorthodox.

She says she’s being “innovative,” and she wouldn’t be putting words of the day on her blouse or hanging pictures on clotheslines if it didn’t benefit students.

“I’m not afraid for other teachers to say that (what I do) is a little out there,” she said.

She also writes children’s books in her spare time, which usually comes between numerous seminars and workshops in the summer. Though she hasn’t been published yet, she often shares what she writes with her students.

“I use a lot of things that I have to teach, so I write for that purpose,” she said. “If I’m teaching metaphors, I’m going to write a piece that uses a lot of metaphors. And, of course, they have to be fun and exciting for the kids to hear.”

Being named an exemplary teacher isn’t going to make Bossardet complacent. She’s always looking for that new technique or idea that could help her reach students.

“I never want to become stagnant,” she said. “My goal is to always be open and learning.”


Contact reporter Jeff Commings at 573-4191 or

9 local educators up for Rodel award: Top teachers in 4 area districts will be selected

November 15th, 2005

By Daniel Scarpinato


Read more about the finalists: Excellent educators

The envelopes please . . .

Wait! Not so fast.

You’ll have to wait a few more days to find out the names of some of the top educators in Southern Arizona, according a nonprofit group that wants to improve education statewide.

For the second year in a row, officials with the Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona’s Exemplary Teacher Initiative set out to find the teachers making the most difference in high-poverty, low-income schools in Pima and Maricopa counties.

The Phoenix-based group found more than 800 Tucson-area teachers in such schools who have made a significant impact on student achievement.

By talking to principals and sending officials to observe the teachers in the classroom, the group eventually was winnowed down to nine local finalists. From those, four final winners will be chosen – and will be announced during the next four days in the Arizona Daily Star’s Tucson/Region section.

The four winners each will receive $10,000 in savings bonds. Half will be given to them at a February awards dinner. They will receive the rest after working with student teachers for three years, an arm of the initiative organized by the University of Arizona College of Education. The five runners-up each will receive $1,000 in cash.

The nine educators represent the Tucson Unified, Sunnyside, Flowing Wells and Amphitheater school districts.

They are: Renee Bailey, Blenman Elementary School; Rebecca Bossardet, Liberty Elementary School; Janice Byrd, Peter Howell Elementary School; Emily Clarke, Keeling Elementary School; Tim Daldrup, Blenman Elementary School; Kristina Gregg, Sierra Middle School; David Levario, Apollo Middle School; Tamara McAllister, Laguna Elementary School; and Mary Tomey, Amphitheater Middle School.

The teachers are a modest group, more interested in talking about their students than themselves. But chat with their colleagues or review the results they’ve had on student achievement, and it’s clear these educators have much to brag about. Each one has brought a creative touch to the classroom and connected deeply with students.

And perhaps their modesty is reflective of how the Rodel award works. Teachers don’t apply for it. Instead, their selection is based on data, including student achievement.

The initiative is meant to recognize and reward great teachers as well as recruit and train the top education students to teach in high-risk schools, defined as schools with 70 percent or more of their students on federal free or reduced-price lunch. One of the top reasons new teachers give for leaving the classroom is lack of support, so guiding new teachers, especially in challenging atmospheres, is key to filling needed teaching positions, educators say.

“The mentoring process that goes on during student teaching is crucial,” said Shirley Fisher, director of field experience for the UA College of Education. “We know the Rodel teachers are excellent in terms of their instructional skills and classroom strategies, but the other piece that is important is the mentoring.”

Recruiting teachers for high-risk schools is key to making Arizona a top state, Carol Peck, president of Rodel, and others say.

“Children who are from poverty have a very different experience from those who are not from poverty,” said Joan Gilbert, principal of Peter Howell Elementary School, which produced one Rodel finalist this year. Nearly 80 percent of students are on free or reduced-price lunch at Howell. “Many (students) do not have the resources,” she said. “Many don’t have the experiences at home that other children have that make them ready to learn.”

“Our goal is for Arizona to be one of the top states when it comes to public education,” Peck said. “Right now, no matter what you look at, Arizona isn’t.”

Contact reporter Daniel Scarpinato at 573-4195 or

Excellent educators

November 15th, 2005

The Rodel Charitable Foundation, which wants to improve education in Arizona, chose nine Southern Arizona teachers who excel at teaching in what are considered high-poverty schools. They considered first- through sixth-grade teachers as well as seventh- and eighth-grade math teachers. From those nine finalists, Rodel has selected four winners. Beginning Wednesday, the Star will unveil the four with a daily story on each. The finalists are:

NAME: Renee Bailey

Age: 49

SCHOOL: Blenman Elementary School

GRADE Level: First-grade teacher

Her story: After working with special-needs students for two decades, Bailey now is teaching mainstream classes. Her patience and her ability to tailor lessons to individual needs have translated to higher student achievement.

A role model: It’s important to her that students feel successful, since she recalls being afraid to answer questions in class when she was a child. Nevertheless, teaching was her calling early on. “Some kids looked up to basketball players. I looked up to my teachers.”

On teaching: “I was always interested in child psychology,” she says. “I would see little children, and that’s where my love has always been. The sooner you get in there and you get the foundation going, the better chance you have at success for any child.”

- Daniel Scarpinato

NAME: Rebecca Bossardet

Age: 43

SCHOOL: Liberty Elementary School

GRADE Level: Fourth- and fifth-grade teacher

Her story: She never thought about leaving her hometown of Tucson, because her family is here and she knew she had to give back to the community. “I wanted to make it better,” she says, “and that’s what I’m doing. Or trying to do, anyway.”

On teaching: ”You make it hands-on and tactile and concrete, so everyone can be engaged in the learning process. Then I feel that you have more students buying into the learning and finding a passion for it.”

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE: She’s looking forward to seeing students from her first class graduate from high school this year. “It’s a little scary to think that these kids have grown so much. But I’ve been proud to see that they’re coming back (to Liberty) to say hello and tell me how they’re doing.”

- Jeff Commings

NAME: Janice Byrd

Age: 29

SCHOOL: Peter Howell Elementary School

GRADE Level: First-grade teacher

Her story: Eight years into her teaching career, Bryd is still willing to grow and learn.

“She loves training and brings back everything she learns, shares it with her colleagues and decides whether it works for her kids or not,” says Principal Joan Gilbert.

Her students: ”Many of my kids are going through things I can’t imagine going through as an adult,” Byrd says.

Home visits: Bryd makes a point of visiting students and their families at home to better understand how she can help them succeed. Her reputation is well-known, and many families request her for their students. “She pays a lot of attention to making sure the kids are prepared and has a great way of making sure the kids are aware of the expectations,” Gilbert says.

- Daniel Scarpinato

NAME: Emily Clarke

Age: 29

SCHOOL: Keeling Elementary School

GRADE Level: Fifth-grade teacher

Her story: After college, Clarke went into public relations and marketing, but soon discovered she craved a career in which she could make a bigger difference. “I just didn’t like the business of it,” she says.

Her six years as a teacher have given her what she wanted: Meaningful connections with people.

All mushy: Clarke’s high energy and positive attitude help her shine in the classroom. The key to student success, she has found, is parental involvement in their lives and education, which for many of her school’s families is an ongoing struggle. She admits to getting so attached to her students that saying goodbye to them is heartbreaking.

On teaching: ”I try to find out what makes them tick and channel instruction that way,” she says. “I want the classroom to be a fun, safe place.”

- Daniel Scarpinato

NAME: Tim Daldrup

Age: 53

SCHOOL: Blenman Elementary School

GRADE Level: Fifth-grade teacher

His story: Daldrup wasn’t an outstanding student himself, but now he Is helping his students have confidence in themselves by incorporating humor into learning. He also sings and plays the guitar for them.

Cool but connected: Blenman Principal Bobbe Woods says Daldrup’s “connectedness and willingness to reach out is great for kids. What seems like an easygoing personally is really a focus on high standards. He sets really clear exceptions. Students don’t want to disappoint him. He’s just adored.” Daldrup lives in the school’s neighborhood, and Woods says he has made an effort to meet families and be part of the community.

On teaching: ”I knew from the first couple minutes I was in the classroom the first year I was teaching – and I was scared to death – but as soon as the kids came into the classroom, I knew that it felt great.”

- Daniel Scarpinato

NAME: Kristina Gregg

Age: 49

SCHOOL: Sierra Middle School

GRADE Level: Seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher

Her story: She’s the third in a distinguished line of Tucson teachers. Her great-aunt, Anna Henry, was a longtime teacher and principal and has an elementary school named after her. Her mother is a retired bilingual teacher from Brichta Elementary but still does some part-time teaching.

On teaching math: ”I like to break things down, and you can do that in math,” she says. “When I was in school, I would see different ways to do problems, and some of my math teachers were real supportive of that and some were not. So I’ve related to that student that thought of something in a different way.”

On being a Rodel finalist: ”It’s good for the community because my success is through them and their support. You don’t go out looking for rewards on a normal basis.”

- Jeff Commings

NAME: David Levario

Age: 51

SCHOOL: Apollo Middle School

GRADE Level: Eighth-grade math teacher

His story: Twenty-nine years of teaching in the Sunnyside Unified School District and being a track and cross country coach at Desert View High School earned him a place in the district’s inaugural Hall of Fame in 2004. He also has taught at Elvira Elementary.

On teaching: After high school, he was accepted into Harvard Law School but was financially unable to pursue a law degree. It’s been equally challenging and rewarding being an educator for 29 years, he says. “It’s something that I don’t regret doing. It’s always something different and something I can get up in the morning and say . . . that I enjoy doing it.”

How he tries to help kids with low-income backgrounds: “They already have baggage, especially in reading and math,” he says. “In nine months, I try to turn back that way of thinking and make it a fun thing. If I can change the way they think about math or even general education, then they’re going to do better in high school.”

- Jeff Commings

NAME: Tamara McAllister

Age: 36

SCHOOL: Laguna Elementary

GRADE Level: Second-grade teacher

Her story: This is turning into a rewarding year for McAllister. She is also a finalist for the 2005 Arizona Teacher of the Year awards. She had never been honored for her work before.

On teaching: Originally, McAllister wanted to be a marine biologist. It took some comments from co-workers for her to realize her true calling.

“Every job that I went to, I was asked to train new people,” she says. “They would always ask me: ‘Have you ever thought about being a teacher? You’re really patient. You explain things very clearly.’ ”

A common misconception: She always hears that people believe teachers do nothing during summer. Not true, she says.

“Most teachers are working, taking classes to become better teachers,” she says. “Or they’re doing projects in their classrooms to enhance the upcoming year.”

- Jeff Commings

NAME: Mary Tomey

Age: 61

SCHOOL: Amphitheater Middle School

GRADE Level: Sixth-grade math teacher

Her story: She’s the former wife of former University of Arizona football coach Dick Tomey. Before working at the UA, the Tomeys spent time in other cities, and Mary Tomey says she’s grateful to have learned from working with students in such places as Virginia, North Carolina and Kansas.

ON TEACHING: She was inspired by her seventh- and eighth-grade teacher. It’s no surprise that most teachers are inspired by other educators, she says. “From the time we’re little to the time we graduate from college, we’re with them all the time. So they have more of a chance to impact us.”

WHY SHE BECAME A TEACHER: ”I went to a school that had eight grades and four teachers, but my seventh- and eighth-grade teacher was incredibly good, and I said right then that’s what I want to do. Years later, in high school, she “remembered Miss Sally and decided to major in education.”

- Jeff Commings

Rodel Initiatives Expand Through Added Support of Business Partners

August 11th, 2005



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (August 11, 2005) – Based on the success of the Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona’s Math and Teacher Initiatives, Bank One and APS have increased their support of the programs while Salt River Project, Intel and BHHS Legacy Foundation are continuing their strong partnerships with Rodel.

This year’s increased donations from Bank One and APS will fund the expansion of the Math Achievement Club by Rodel (MAC-Ro) into second-grade classrooms as well as expand the program for third- and fourth-graders.

“The wonderful support from our MAC-Ro business partners has allowed us to help 17 more schools from our growing waiting list of interested schools,” says Rodel President and CEO Dr. Carol Peck.

These contributions, along with continuing support of Intel and BHHS Legacy Foundation, have allowed MAC-Ro to grow by more than 60 percent for the 2005-06 school year, now reaching 13,000 students attending 70 schools in 31 districts across five counties.

“By supporting educational endeavors such as MAC-Ro, everyone benefits,” says Louise Moskowitz of APS.  “Ultimately, the children working to master math today will be business leaders tomorrow.”

MAC-Ro is an initiative of the Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona with a proven track record of improving the math achievement of elementary school students by using a combination of increased time on task, parent involvement, strategies for teaching the Arizona Academic Standards, systematic review, and monthly “surprises” as motivation for students to do well.

Bank One will also be joining SRP as a sponsor of the Rodel Exemplary Teacher Initiative.  “Seeing such great results from Rodel’s programs, we’re happy to keep investing in the children of Arizona,” says Bank One regional manager, Lydia Lee.

“We’re excited to help give these teachers the recognition they deserve and to support future educators,” says Mark Bonsall, Associate General Manager of Commercial and Customer Services for SRP.

By the end of the year, Rodel will have identified 42 Exemplary Teachers from high-poverty areas, who will each mentor six Rodel Promising Student Teachers over three years.  Upon graduation, these 252 student teachers commit to teach in high-poverty schools for a minimum of three years.

As an incentive, each student teacher who completes the program will receive a $10,000 savings bond.  This year’s contributions from Bank One and SRP will fund 24 of these bonds as well as $10,000 in savings bonds for each of the four Rodel Exemplary Teachers.

The Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona’s vision is for Arizona to have one of the best pre-kindergarten through 12 educational systems in the country by 2020.  For more information on the Foundation’s mission and initiatives, contact Rodel at 480-367-2920.

Rodel Hires Program Administrator, Communication Specialist

August 2nd, 2005



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (August 2, 2005)- The Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona is pleased to announce the hiring of Michael Rivera as program administrator and Frieda Pollack as communication specialist.

As program administrator, Rivera will be working to expand the Rodel Teacher Initiative and the Math Achievement Club by Rodel.

Rivera brings to Rodel ten years of experience as a junior high school English teacher and eight years as a middle school principal in the Alhambra Elementary School District.  Most recently he served as Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the district.  He holds a B.S. in Education from Northern Arizona University and a M.A. in Education Administration and Supervision from Arizona State University.

As communication specialist, Pollack will be handling Community Relations for the Foundation and assisting with their math initiative.

Prior to joining Rodel, Pollack was Membership Services Coordinator for the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona and Marketing & e-Business Coordinator for the Law Offices of Scott M. Clark.  She earned her B.S. in Journalism from Northern Arizona University.

The Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona’s vision is for Arizona to have one of the best pre-kindergarten through 12 educational systems by 2020. They are helping to raise student achievement in over 70 high-poverty schools in five counties.

For more information about the Foundation’s mission and initiatives, visit our web site at

SRP Teams with Rodel to Honor Resourceful Teachers

June 20th, 2005

Learning Circuit, Educational Resources and Opportunities at SRP

The education process can be more fluid when resources are plentiful, the school district is prosperous and the neighborhood is affluent.

True teaching successes, though, often are found in older neighborhood schools, where resources can be scarce. Here educators help students overcome a variety of challenges by nurturing and encouraging them while setting the academic bar high and demanding their very best thinking.

The Rodel Teacher Initiative supports the creative, talented teachers who find the ways and means to inspire at-risk children to excel and become resourceful, successful adults. This year SRP joined the Rodel Charitable Foundation in honoring these special individuals – teachers who transform the educational process into a captivating, gratifying adventure of self-discovery for students.

Educators honored by Rodel Teacher Initiative awards receive $10,000 savings bonds. Teachers are chosen based on their record of raising student test scores and recommendations from their principals.

In exchange, each winner agrees to mentor six student teachers with the intent of spinning out more talented teachers who know how to help the state’s high-needs students.

Selected student teachers receive $1,000 and get a $10,000 savings bond if they, in turn, spend three years teaching in the state’s poorest neighborhoods.

This year, the Rodel Teacher Initiative is expanding the program, with help from SRP, to honor educators in Maricopa and Pima counties and to pair them with more student teachers from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona.

“Research has repeatedly shown that our customers expect SRP to provide leadership in educational support as part of our community outreach and volunteer activities,” said SRP Corporate Affairs Manager Rusty Foley. “At SRP, we recognize that Arizona’s economic and cultural future depends on the support of our educational system.”

SRP’s first two sponsored Rodel teachers are:

Isabel Chanley teaches ESL second-graders at Eisenhower Elementary in Mesa. She’s been teaching for about three decades. Eldest of eight children whose parents were immigrants from Mexico. Her parents encouraged her to be a teacher.

On motivating students: “Praise. Tell them how wonderful they are and how smart they are to achieve something.”

How parents can help: “Always stay involved. Kids see how important education is if they see their parents are involved.”

Advice for fellow teachers: “Enjoy what you do. It’s your attitude when you walk in the door every day that makes the difference.”

Mary Cordova, a first-grade teacher at Griffith Elementary School in the Balsz School District in Phoenix, had no sense of urgency to attend college. She eventually earned a bachelor’s degree, but while working as a paraprofessional in the Osborn School District, she got the teaching “bug” and obtained a master’s degree in education. Now she is in her 17th year as a teacher.

On motivating students: Cordova has a motto of “we must, we can, we will.” She emphasizes individual and team successes.

How parents can help: “Explain what you expect. Check for homework and establish a studying regimen.”

Advice for fellow teachers: “Be organized and prioritize. Get the class up and moving when needed.”


Learning Circuit Editorial:
Growing a New Generation of Exemplary Teachers

Carol Peck is currently president and chief executive officer of the Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona.  Dr. Peck was named Superintendent of the Year and National Administrator of the Year while serving as superintendent in the Alhambra School District.  The following provides an overview of the Rodel Exemplary Teacher Initiative.

Why is it that some teachers, year after year, beat the odds by achieving extraordinary success from their students, even those with the fewest advantages?
The Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona set out to answer this question, and to increase the number of quality teachers in our classrooms – especially those that serve high-needs students. Since over one-third of beginning teachers leave the profession after only two years, Rodel recognized the need to attract great teachers and ensure they are prepared to be successful in their classrooms.

Honoring Exemplary Teachers: The Rodel Exemplary Teacher Initiative began with a strategy to identify and honor extraordinary teachers in high-needs schools. To date, 27 Exemplary Teachers have been honored and awarded a $10,000 Savings Bond. Word of their accomplishments raises expectations for all teachers and attracts the most promising new teachers who want to learn from these master educators.

Growing a New Generation of Exemplary Teachers: Each of the Rodel Exemplary Teachers commits to mentor six Rodel Promising Student Teachers. These outstanding student teachers learn from the best and are awarded a scholarship. Each will also receive a $10,000 Savings Bond after successfully completing student teaching, and then teaching for at least three years in a high-needs Arizona school.

SRP Helping Program Reach One Million Children: SRP is helping the program reach more students by sponsoring two Exemplary Teachers and twelve Promising Student Teachers. The current 27 Exemplary Teachers will train 162 Promising Student Teachers. Collectively, they can reach over 170,000 students. Rodel plans to continue the program for at least the next decade, creating the potential to reach over one million Arizona students!

What Distinguishes Exceptional Teachers? Often I am asked what, besides high test scores, distinguishes exceptional teachers. After 32 years of experience as a teacher and administrator, I have found five distinguishing qualities of the very best:

  • Passionate Belief System: High expectations for students and never willing to give up on any individual.
  • Motivation and Student Engagement: Enliven the curriculum by igniting the interests of students.
  • Focus on Subject Matter: Know their subject areas inside-out and are focused on the importance of each student mastering the Arizona State Standards.
  • Effective Classroom Management Strategies: Classroom environment is respectful and sensitive to each student with little evidence of disruptive behavior.
  • Positive Communication and Leadership: Great communication marked by frequent and relevant dialogue with students and parents.

Quality teachers truly make a difference. You can learn more about the Rodel Exemplary Teacher Initiative, or contact me with a question,

Rodel Improves Arizona Education

June 1st, 2005

By Dr. Carol Peck. President and CEO, The Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona

Today, a publication of Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce

Some say Arizona’s education system can’t be fixed. Others don’t see the need.

Arizona ranks 49th in the nation in funding for programs and operations, and according to the National Assessment of Education Progress, only a quarter of our elementary and middle school students read at grade level. This problem is concentrated in economically disadvantaged communities and places where students are just learning English.

The future of our nation depends on having an educated population. The Rodel Foundation of Arizona’s bold vision is to improve Arizona’s education system so that it is widely recognized as one of the best in the country by 2020. Some might find this too ambitious, but the Rodel team is optimistic.

Local and state partnerships make the Rodel vision a reality by exchanging ideas and resources, enriching policy dialogues and creating initiatives that directly affect classrooms. Partners include APS, SRP, Bank One, Banner Health and Legacy Foundation.

Rodel’s first initiative, MAC-Ro, is a math program designed for third and fourth grade students in high-poverty areas. Students are provided monthly math workbooks to do at home with a parent or

guardian. Incentives are earned when fully completed workbooks are returned. The program has been so successful that it has expanded to 55 schools in five Arizona counties, reaching over 8,000 students. Researchers at the University of Arizona found significant math achievement gains due to this program.

The Rodel Exemplary Teacher Initiative is our second focus area. This initiative was launched to help populate schools in disadvantaged areas with talented teachers. Rodel identifies teachers with a proven track record of increasing achievement in high-poverty schools, and then pairs these Rodel Exemplary Teachers with the most promising student teachers. In only 10 years, over 1,000 new teachers – mentored and trained by Rodel Exemplary Teachers – will be guided to careers in high-poverty schools where they’ll have the potential to reach over one million students.

Rodel commissioned Lead with Five, a major report developed by business, community and education leaders. Their mission was to identify research-based school reforms proven to make a significant difference in student achievement. This report, widely circulated and endorsed by The Arizona Republic and East Valley Tribune, is already stimulating policy dialogue by outlining options for wise investments in education.

Rodel has the vision – and is proving it has the means – to truly make a difference for Arizona’s children. For more information, call (480) 367-2920 or visit

Teachers are key to better public schools

April 14th, 2005





Editor’s note: This is the second of five monthly columns that explores a key rec- ommendation of Lead with Five: Five In- vestments to Improve Education in Ari- zona, a report commissioned by the Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona, with support from Greater Phoenix Leadership.

Next to the role of an involved parent, nothing is more important to student achievement than a skillful and enthusiastic teacher who maintains high expectations for every student.

Lead with Five states that without highly skilled, well-prepared teachers, most investments in education reform have little chance of making a significant difference. Ensuring we have good teachers involves three key components:

nAttracting quality teachers. Arizona needs to train more teachers for where they are most critically needed: in rural and high-poverty urban areas, and in subject areas such as mathematics, science and technology, where there are also significant shortages of qualified candidates.

Further, many Arizona teachers leave the profession, partly due to insufficient preparation for success in challenging areas. About one-third of the teachers in high-poverty areas leave after the first year, many because they lack the skills to be successful.

Lead with Five recom- mends teacher preparation and recruiting be given continued attention to ensure there are enough teachers entering and staying in the schools.

The Rodel Exemplary Teacher program honors and recognizes the very best teachers in high-poverty schools in an effort to make teaching at these schools an attractive and rewarding career option.

Through partnerships with teacher prep-aration colleges, Rodel Exemplary Teachers are training the next generation of teachers by mentoring the most promising student teachers.

The current 27 Rodel Exemplary Teachers will mentor 162 student teachers who will each receive a $10,000 savings bond after successfully teaching for three years in high-poverty areas.

nProfessional development. Professional development is key to developing and retaining masterful teachers. Unfortunately, typical professional development often involves little or no follow-through coaching, usually resulting in minimal impact on instruction and student performance.

Quality professional development must be school-based, job-embedded and focused on the curriculum. Teachers must have oppor-tunities to immediately apply their newly learned techniques in their classrooms. They need to be able to see how the training directly relates to improving performance of students.

Although principals are critical, the reality is their professional development services are often spread thin. The evidence of what works calls for school-based instructional facilitators at each school to provide ongoing coaching and mentoring that is critical for teachers to improve.

Many schools release children early on a regular basis to allow time to train teachers, but what they gain in training time they may be losing in classroom instruction. Lead with Five recommends summer institutes for teachers as the best venue for intensive training.

One exemplary professional development opportunity is National Board Certification for Teachers.

In this rigorous process, teachers learn and demonstrate that they measure up to national teaching standards as evidenced by student work samples, videotape of teacher-student discourse, written narrative and reflection on classroom practices, and documented evidence.

Teachers who attain National Board Cer- tification are not only highly qualified, they are accomplished. Arizona currently has 249 National Board certified teachers.

Performance pay. A task force on tea-cher compensation concluded that Arizona must raise teacher salaries in order to compete.

Additionally, individual teachers and teacher teams who are more effective in producing student-learning gains in their classrooms should be paid more.

Proposition 301 already requires com- pensation to recognize and reward teacher performance. Successful plans from Arizona districts should guide future development of performance-based salary structures.

Recruiting, training and recognizing high-performing teachers should top our state’s agenda for the continued improvement of our public schools, including charters.

Carol Peck is president and CEO of Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona. Tom Horne is state superintendent of public instruction. To read the complete Lead with Five report, go online

The hardest job they will ever love

December 8th, 2004

The Arizona Republic


Teachers’ advice is to read, read, read to your kids


Over the past 12 days, The Arizona Republic has profiled 12 exemplary teachers named in the 2005 Rodel Teacher Initiative. The program gives $10,000 savings bonds to teachers in low-income schools who will each mentor six outstanding student teachers.

Rodel selected 18 teachers from schools whose classes scored well on achievement tests for three consecutive years. They also asked principals to identify teachers who they would like to “clone.” Salt River Project teamed up with Rodel this year, sponsoring two of the teachers’ awards.
Six teachers will receive $1,000 each as finalists. They are profiled below:

Monica Carrera-Wilburn

School: Adams Elementary School.

District: Mesa Public Schools.

Grade: Multi-age classroom grades first through third.

Years in teaching: 11 years.

How parents can help: Read to your child from the moment of birth. Read to your child every night. Find out who your children’s friends are and get to know their teacher.

Advice for fellow teachers: Build some genuine friendships with your colleagues. That’s how you get your energy. Read, read, read professional books. Get out there and attend conferences.

Why she loves teaching: What excites her about teaching: I tell my kids, “I have the best job in the world. I get to play with kids all day.”

What her principal said: “One of the things I appreciate most about Monica is her willingness to be a learner as well as a teacher,” said Devon Isherwood. “She is always striving to do it better. She doesn’t believe you ever arrive or become as good as you can be as a teacher.”

Marsha Fetzer

School: Emerson Elementary School.

District: Mesa Public Schools.

Grade: Second.

Years in teaching: 26.

On motivating students: I work with a child to make them feel valued, trusted, important, intelligent. If you value them, you’ll get them to open up.

How parents can help: Spend time with them. Trust and believe in them. Be a good role model.

Advice for fellow teachers: Get to know the individual child.

Why she loves teaching: I love the reaction I get from children when they learn and progress. Young children are really into the world around them, and that’s motivating for me.

On raising the bar for students: Set high expectations and use classroom time effectively.

Amy Fishbaugh

School: Carol G. Peck Elementary School.

District: Alhambra Elementary District.

Grade: Second.

Years in teaching: 11.

On motivating students: High expectations, personal touch, discussion.

How parents can help: Read aloud at home. Read, read, read.

Advice for fellow teachers: Believe in the kids and in yourself.

Why she loves teaching: Like the Peace Corps, it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love.

On raising the bar for students: I don’t talk down to them. I’m nurturing but I don’t coddle. I expect them to be there every day and to participate.

What her principal said: “Every interaction that Amy has – with students, colleagues and parents – comes from what is good for the kids and how we can help them be successful,” said Betsy Hargrove. “It’s her love of the children and her passion for their education.”

Leah Kelly

School: Cordova Middle School.

District: Alhambra Elementary District.

Grade: Fifth.

Years in teaching: Five.

On motivating students: She strives to make the classroom a team through hands on projects, such as a two-hour math problem.

How parents can help: Spend time reading with their children or at least going over homework.

Advice for fellow teachers: Don’t take emotional stresses of work home with you. If you do, you won’t be fully prepared for the next day.

Why she loves teaching: She comes from a family of teachers and loves being with the kids, helping them learn in a safe environment.

On raising the bar for students: Establish classroom rules and be enthusiastic about the work.

Jill O’Keefe

School: Orangedale Elementary School.

District: Balsz Elementary District.

Grade: Fourth.

Years in teaching: 18.

On motivating students: Present fun opportunities for learning and strive to present good curriculum.

How parents can help: Spend time with your children. Trust and believe in them. Be a good role model.

Advice for fellow teachers: Keep in mind that students are “real” people who should be respected.

Why she loves teaching: For those moments when a students learns something.

On raising the bar for students: Be involved.

Steve Schiro

School: Redbird Elementary School.

District: Mesa Public Schools.

Grade: Fourth-fifth-grade loop.

Years in teaching: 8.

On motivating students: Tries to teach to the strengths of individual students, hopefully tap into something exciting for them. Once you get past initial needs, it’s just making them feel some kind of success.

How parents can help: Be involved. As a parent I give that advice and as a teacher I give that advice.

Advice for fellow teachers: Have a philosophy of teaching you’re confident with and stick with it. Don’t change with every trend that comes along.

Why he loves teaching: It’s always different, and always a challenge.

On raising the bar for students: Expect what they’re capable of doing, and the challenge is identifying what that is.
Reporters Doug Carroll, Anne Ryman, Cory Schouten and Louie Villalobos contributed to this article.

Teacher’s high expectations encourage achievement

December 6th, 2004

By Doug Carroll

The Arizona Republic

Editor’s note: The Arizona Republic is profiling the 12 winners of the 2005 Rodel Teacher Initiative. The program gives $10,000 savings bonds to teachers in low-income schools who each will mentor six outstanding student teachers.

It is easier to keep up than to catch up, Mary Cordova often tells her students and their parents.

And she speaks from personal experience.

Cordova, a first-grade teacher at Griffith Elementary School in the Balsz School District in Phoenix, got sidetracked after graduating from high school in St. Louis and didn’t go directly to college. Neither of her parents had finished high school, and there was no sense of urgency to go beyond.

When she did, however, there was no stopping her.

“I decided I would get my degree, no matter what it took,” Cordova said.

While earning a bachelor’s degree in business at Arizona State University, she worked as a paraprofessional in the Osborn School District and ultimately decided to go for a master’s degree in education.

Now in her 17th year, she has been teaching ever since.

“I loved working with the students who were learning English,” Cordova says of her work in Osborn. Her Spanish had been honed by living in South America for three years.

She has been named one of 12 exemplary teachers in the 2005 Rodel Teacher Initiative, a program that rewards teachers who work in the Valley’s poorest schools.

Rodel selected teachers whose classes scored well on achievement tests for three consecutive years. They also were recommended by their principals. Cordova’s award is being paid by Salt River Project, a partner with Rodel in the teacher initiative.

The importance of parental involvement in a child’s education is an aspect she hammers constantly.

“Attendance is paramount,” Cordova said she tells parents. “If (a student misses) even a week for a family trip, it really can take a toll. In the first grade, you’re doing reading and math, the things that are the building blocks.”

Cordova says many parents sincerely want to help their children but are unsure how.

“Even if it’s just taking them to the library, that helps,” she said. “If (children) can read in Spanish, then they’ll read in English. And taking the time to converse with them develops language skills.”

On motivating students: Cordova has a motto of “we must, we can, we will.” She emphasizes individual and team successes.

How parents can help: ”Explain what you expect. Check for homework and establish a studying regimen.”

Advice for fellow teachers: ”Be organized and prioritize. Get the class up and moving when needed.”

On raising the bar for her students: ”I tell them what I expect.”

Why she loves teaching: ”It’s a loving, caring community with a goal and a purpose.”

What her principal said: ”Mary has been such an asset in reaching out to families,” Griffith Principal Mary Ruddy said. “She’s very consistent with kids. She sets the expectations high but is willing to put in the extra time to help them get there.”

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