Sharon Kebschull Barrett

Succeeding—and Paying It Forward—as an International MTRT

When Raissa Renacia arrived from the Philippines in 2019 to teach math in Ector County, Texas, she had a lot of questions.

From where to find rice to how to manage an American classroom, Renacia found herself wishing she had one person to give her answers. Today, in her third year in the Master Team Reach Teacher (MTRT) role, she’s become that mentor for other international teachers.

Celebrating 10 Opportunity Culture Years!

We are kicking off the 2023-24 school year with big celebrations–and big plans for more! At Public Impact, we’re celebrating our 10th year of helping schools implement what district leaders call “game-changing” Opportunity Culture innovative staffing models, proven to get results for student learning and educator satisfaction. 

Since the first pioneering districts began implementing Opportunity Culture models in 2013-14, the national Opportunity Culture initiative to reach more students with excellent teaching and more educators with excellent careers keeps growing! We’re excited to see all that Opportunity Culture schools have achieved so far, and ready to reach many more in the second decade.

Opportunity Culture Models Bring a Team Approach to the Science of Reading

In North Carolina, a newfound focus on the science of reading led to the mandated use of the professional learning program LETRS, or Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling. Making the shift from “balanced literacy” to instruction based on the science of reading takes significant time and training—adding strain on Covid-weary teachers, as Education Week reported.

With their team-based approach, Opportunity Culture schools can ease some of that stress. Opportunity Culture schools place teachers with proven records of student growth in Multi-Classroom Leader (MCL) roles, leading small teams of teachers and paraprofessionals. Read more…

Kids Need Tutoring. Few Kids Get Tutoring. Opportunity Culture Models Can Help. 

Despite a steady national drumbeat about the power of high-dosage tutoring to help students rebound from the dramatic post-Covid learning dip, the National Center for Education Statistics reported on Wednesday that such tutoring reaches only about one in 10 students. Although 37 percent of schools reported that they offer high-dosage tutoring—that is, at least a half-hour of one-on-one or small-group instruction three times a week with a trained educator—not even a third of students in those schools receive the tutoring. Read more…

New from Public Impact: How Opportunity Culture Models Strengthen Educator Professional Learning

In Building Better PL: How to Strengthen Teacher Learning, researchers Heather Hill and John Papay highlight six key design features of effective professional learning, or PL. Those features fall under two general principles for effective PL—it supports teachers’ day-to-day practice, and it involves accountability for change and improvement. Opportunity Culture schools, which provide routine, job-embedded PL through multi-classroom leader teams, notably hit the mark for those two principles and each of the key features.

Fidelity and Collaboration: Opportunity Culture Directors Share Advice on Common Challenges

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, October 17, 2022

Whether in districts large or small, rural or urban, Opportunity Culture directors often travel similar arcs from initial design issues to implementation challenges and successes. At the September virtual gathering of Opportunity Culture directors, four panelists shared how Opportunity Culture implementation has improved their district recruitment, teacher support, and student success, and discussed the collaboration needed among district offices, accountability concerns, and how their roles have changed.

Texas Opportunity Culture District Trumpets Recruitment Success

By Paola Gilliam and Sharon Kebschull Barrett, September 14, 2022

After struggling with teacher shortages for years, Ector County Independent School District (ISD) in Odessa, Texas, announced its best recruiting year in over a decade. In an Odessa American article, Superintendent Scott Muri attributed the recruiting success of about 450 teachers to several strategies, including Opportunity Culture implementation and pay raises.

2 Opportunity Culture Educators Among 9 Regional N.C. Principals of the Year

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, February 28, 2022

Congratulations to KaTrinka Brown, Piedmont-Triad Region Principal of the Year, and Larenda Denien, Southwest Region Principal of the Year! The awards place Brown and Denien in the running for North Carolina Principal of the Year, announced in May.

I spoke to both principals recently, and as you’ll read in spotlights of each, a common theme in their leadership success quickly emerged: the power of relationships.

An Opportunity Culture Principal Reflects

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, February 25, 2022

Kicking off the new “Opportunity Culture Audio” pieces that we’ll begin sharing from time to time this year, our first piece highlights Jenny O’Meara, who until 2021 served as a principal for a middle school using Opportunity Culture roles.

O’Meara, who was an Opportunity Culture Fellow in 2019–20, worked in Edgecombe County Public Schools in a rural part of North Carolina, which has taken its Opportunity Culture implementation district-wide. After stepping away from her principalship, she sat for an interview about her Opportunity Culture experience, including reflections on working with her school’s first multi-classroom leader, or MCL, and valuable lessons to share with current principals.