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.

Sneak Peek: Opportunity Culture® Educators Speak

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, May 26, 2022

The communications team at Public Impact had the pleasure of visiting several districts this spring, for the first time since Covid hit, to interview Opportunity Culture educators and document their great work! We heard about their challenges and successes—what we learn in these interviews informs the guidance and support Public Impact provides to districts—and their opinions of Opportunity Culture roles and implementation.

Watch for stories and video clips highlighting specifics of their implementation and leadership and instructional practices in future months, but for now, here are a few of their thoughts to send us into summer:

CMS joins national Opportunity Culture® educational initiative

From The Sentinel-Record, May 22, 2022

Cutter Morning Star School District is implementing Opportunity Culture models in its elementary school this fall as part of the Arkansas Department of Education’s statewide initiative to reach all students with quality, more-personalized teaching.

Superintendent Nancy Anderson said the district was approached by the department during the first year of its rollout and she visited the North Little Rock School District, which was one of the first schools to implement the program.

Multi-classroom leaders find unique niche

From OA Online, May 22, 2022

Interested in making a larger impact, Karen Vicory at Wilson & Young Medal of Honor Middle School and Sydney Garcia at Pease Elementary made the leap from classroom teachers to multi-classroom leaders. The position, through Opportunity Culture, gives them a chance to teach in the classroom and mentor their peers.

Ector County ISD Executive Director for Talent Development Ashley Osborne said the district has 49 MCLs at 17 elementary, middle and high school campuses. Campuses perform a redesign of their Opportunity Culture plan every year where they can determine the structure of Opportunity Culture based on campus need, data and context. “Next year, we are looking to add around 20 additional MCLs. Additionally, we will have 20 campuses utilizing the Opportunity Culture model,” Osborne said in an email.

Two Keys to Success for Opportunity Culture® Leaders

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, May 19, 2022

Opportunity Culture planning and implementation success involves a host of factors, such as strong initial school designs and rigorous selection, accountability, and monitoring processes, but over and over, district leaders repeat two themes that can’t be ignored: the importance of building relationships and maintaining fidelity to the model.

Those themes came up again in April, when two Texas Opportunity Culture districts hosted education leaders interested in using Opportunity Culture designs and teacher residencies in their schools—the first in-person site visit since pre-Covid days. The daylong visit to Midland and Ector County Independent School Districts (ISDs) included an overview of Opportunity Culture implementation, visits to multiple schools to see and hear about the educator roles in action, and a panel discussion with the districts’ Opportunity Culture leaders.

Quick Take: Why One Texas Teacher Loved Her Opportunity Culture® Residency

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, March 29, 2021

Coming into her final semester of college as a student at the University of Texas Permian Basin in fall 2020, Chelsea McMahan decided to forgo a traditional student teaching post, applying instead for a full-time, paid, Opportunity Culture teacher residency in a fourth-grade class in the Midland, Texas, independent school district (ISD).

Six months later, McMahan found herself—as a newly minted, full-time sixth-grade teacher at another Midland school—standing before the district’s school board extolling the benefits of her residency. Read more…

Quick Take: Leading Opportunity Culture® at the State Level

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, February 17, 2021

How does it work to lead Opportunity Culture from the state level? I spoke recently with Kelly McLaughlin, who leads the Opportunity Culture state initiative in the Division of Elementary & Secondary Education within the Arkansas Department of Education, to get the scoop on the benefits to districts when the state takes the lead to spread Opportunity Culture (OC) implementation. McLaughlin took this role in August 2020, after more than 20 years as an English teacher and literacy facilitator and five years in other areas of the state department.

“It is our hope, at least from my perspective, to increase teacher retention and recruitment in the state by meeting equitable goals, and we believe we can reach these goals by increasing and growing OC throughout the state so that all students will have equitable access to effective teachers,” McLaughlin said. Read more…

Opportunity Culture® Spreads in Arkansas, North Carolina with State Support

By Public Impact, January 28, 2021

After the continued promising results in Opportunity Culture schools in their states and around the country, Arkansas and North Carolina have awarded grants to seven districts to design their Opportunity Culture plans for implementation in 2021–22.

Opportunity Culture schools use new roles—based on the cornerstone role of Multi-Classroom Leadership—to reach many more students with excellent, personalized instruction. These roles, which have produced outstanding student growth, provide intensive support to all teachers, paid career advancement, and a stronger teacher pipeline.

The national Opportunity Culture initiative, founded by Public Impact, is now in over 45 districts and charter school organizations across 10 states. Read more…

Midland, Texas, Educators Highlight Early Opportunity Culture® Impact

By Paola Gilliam, January 21, 2021

Midway through its first year of Opportunity Culture implementation, the Midland, Texas, school district shared Opportunity Culture impacts so far with its school board on Tuesday.

“Opportunity Culture brings our teachers together, and it provides them the courage that is contagious in the classrooms we have,” Chris Hightower, the district’s Opportunity Culture lead, told the board. He introduced an Opportunity Culture principal, multi-classroom leader (MCL), and former teacher resident turned first-year teacher to share brief thoughts. Read more…

Free Webinar: Shaping Your School’s Culture for Learning

By Public Impact, November 23, 2020

Join Opportunity Culture Fellow Matthew How, principal of Ridge Road Elementary in North Little Rock School District, for a webinar on Tuesday, December 1, at 4 p.m. ET, exploring how school leaders can right the ship when teachers are unhappy, and use Opportunity Culture to create opportunities for distributed leadership and collaboration—and ultimately, happy and successful staff and students. Principal How will share how he turned his school’s climate around and his tools for gathering data and acting on it, and answer your questions.

A recording of this free webinar is available here.