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Public school principals gather for retreat to inspire improvement

RESERVE — St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District leaders recently completed a first time principals retreat focused on ways to lead school improvement and increase student achievement.

“We’re six weeks into the school year so we felt it was important to meet to evaluate what we’ve done so far and make refinements to what we have in place,” Superintendent Kevin George said. “With so many new principals we want to make sure we are providing support to them.”

Topping the agenda was making sure every school has a solid school improvement plan in place, that those plans are evaluated continuously throughout the 2017-18 school year and that adjustments are made as needed.

“Our school plans are, basically, how do we inspire teaching and learning at our schools to improve student results,” George said. “They also include things such as culture and climate, but our main focus is always to improve student results.”

A big part of those plans on each campus include making sure every student – from the highest achievers to the lowest – show growth by the end of the school year.

Fifth Ward Elementary School Principal Dr. Brandy Vaughn presents the successful elements of a school plan during the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District’s Principals’ Retreat.

Another component of the retreat was two-way feedback between principals and district administrators to discuss what is and is not working.

“I get excited whenever there is an opportunity to learn and strengthen my leadership skills, and this retreat was all about becoming a stronger and more knowledgeable school leader,” said Johnika Gayden-Gaines, who took over as principal at East St. John Preparatory Academy.

“It was great taking on the role of being a student engaged in a profound level of new learning through interactivity and high engagement. But, even greater, was having the opportunity to collaborate with other principals and district leaders when learning and exchanging ideas.”

Representatives from the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching were on hand to review the protocol for the implementation of performance-based compensation.

Performance-based compensation is part of TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement being implemented in partnership with NIET with grant funding from the Teacher Incentive Fund.

It provides additional compensation to teachers based on new roles and responsibilities, their accomplishments in the classroom and the performance of their students.

Principals also discussed how to support teachers as they adopt Tier 1 Curriculum, materials that have been rated as superior quality by the Louisiana Department of Education.

It is the highest rating and they are being adopted districtwide this school year.