Master teachers get approval to be added to St. John schools

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 13, 2008


Staff Reporter

RESERVE – The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board on Tuesday approved Superintendent Courtney Millet’s proposal to implement three new job categories in parish schools beginning next school year.

Millet said the school system would begin advertising the openings and interviewing candidates immediately for the position of Title I master teacher, instructors whose job it will be to demonstrate teaching methods in the classroom and monitor curriculum effectiveness.

The new job titles of Title II coordinator of instruction and professional development for teachers and two instructional technology master teachers in the West Bank schools were also approved in the measure.

Millet had encountered opposition from two local curriculum coordinators and ambivalence from board members when the proposal was first on the agenda at the June 5 meeting. The proposal was tabled after Board Member Russell Jack challenged the minimum requirements for the position and said the board needed more time to consider the financial implications of reallocating federal grants.

The Title I master teacher category draws from schools’ federal Title I grant money and makes unnecessary the position of curriculum coordinator by reassigning and adding to its responsibilities.

Jack maintained his stance Tuesday, also arguing that some curriculum coordinators would not have equal opportunity to apply for the positions despite their experience and certification.

“I don’t have a problem with master teachers per se, I think the perception is good, “ he said. “But at the same time, we need to respect what our curriculum coordinators have done in the past.”

But Millet and School Board President Gerald Keller countered that curriculum coordinators could also apply for the new master teacher positions, albeit some of them at different schools.

Millet also received backing from Ann LaBorde, the board’s executive director of personnel and legal services, who put into context the need for the new positions.  

“As of last year, we had hired more teachers that had gone through or were going through an alternative certification than we had graduating out of a college of education,” she said. “So we are, in fact, teaching our teachers to teach, and everybody is in that situation.”

Board Member Lowell Bacas, who spoke for the personnel committee that unanimously recommended the positions three weeks ago, also lent his support.

“Speaking as a past principal of 21 years, I would have loved to have a master teacher on my staff to help me with new teachers coming in or even some of the other teachers that needed a little more help to become even better.”

The motion passed 6-2 with three members absent.