In a Texas Opportunity Culture® District, MCLs and Reach Associates Build Partnerships

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, November 11, 2020

After more than two decades in education, including stints teaching kindergarten and English as a second language, Elizabeth Fernandez had settled into a district role as a data specialist for teaching and learning—until the multi-classroom leader (MCL) role offered her the chance to lead while returning to the classroom.

“When you’re in central office, it’s great, and you do lots of great things,” Fernandez said, “but when you’re at a campus, there’s just an energy and a love—it’s just the kids. I love these kids.”

But the appeal of working directly with kids again would not have been enough on its own, she said. Read more…

In Mineral Wells, Texas, Opportunity Culture® Brings Academic Gains, Discipline Reductions

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, May 15, 2020
Part 3 of 3

At Travis Elementary in Mineral Wells Independent School District in Texas, “we have made some big strides over the past three years, and I 100 percent directly credit that to Opportunity Culture,” Principal David Wells said.

In student learning gains, Wells cites the number of students reaching the “passing standard” of the STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness). He also looks at the performance gap between his school, with about 80 percent of students classified as low-income, and the Texas state average. Read more…

“In Love With Opportunity Culture®”: How Mineral Wells, Texas, School Found an Answer

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, May 14, 2020
Part 2 of 3

In 2016, Travis Elementary, in Texas’s Mineral Wells Independent School District, faced a challenge: Administrators knew that Travis, which had struggled for years, had an especially low-performing group of students coming up from the lower grades, so they would need to work even harder to meet these students’ needs and guide them to academic gains.

Elementary schools in Mineral Wells each serve only a few grades—one serves pre-kindergarten and first; another second and third; and, at Travis, fourth and fifth. Hearing about Opportunity Culture models piqued the interest of David Wells, then assistant principal at Travis. Read more…

Why Would Teachers Drive Past a Higher-Paying District for a Job That Pays Less? This Texas District Knows

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, May 13, 2020
Part 1 of 3

“I’m not in this for the money,” teachers routinely say. And yet, money and the respect of being decently paid matters—witness teacher protests across the country in recent years. So why would a teacher drive (pre-COVID-19) through a wealthier, better-paying district to head for one that pays less and serves a higher-need student population? One Texas district can answer that with two words: Opportunity Culture. Read more…

Education Foundation gets grant for Opportunity Culture®

From OA Online, April 16, 2020

The Education Foundation of Odessa announced Thursday that it has received a $500,000 grant from The Prentice Farrar Brown & Alline Ford Brown Foundation to support the implementation of Opportunity Culture in Ector County ISD beginning in the 2020-2021 academic year.

This grant will be payable over 36 months, a news release said.

ECISD and Midland ISD are introducing Opportunity Culture, an innovative approach to staffing that multiplies the impact of highly effective teachers, thereby improving student performance. Read the full article…

For a Strong Opportunity Culture®, Include Support from the Top

By Margaret High and Sharon Kebschull Barrett, February 11, 2020

Whenever the Public Impact team interviews Opportunity Culture educators, one word comes up again and again: support. With multi-classroom leaders (MCLs) at the core, support flows up and down—up from MCLs serving as an instructional leadership team for their principals, down from MCLs to their teaching teams, and even sideways, with MCLs forming a supportive team for one another.

That schoolwide support becomes even more powerful when backed up by strong, vocal support from a superintendent and central office. Read more…

Twelve Memphis Charter Schools Will Be Implementing Opportunity Culture® This Fall

From Teach901, January, 29, 2020

In an effort to extend the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, an initiative known as Opportunity Culture will launch in select local schools this fall. Developed by the organization Public Impact, the Opportunity Culture model helps schools and districts design an innovative structure to extend the reach of excellent teachers to more students by asking them to lead small teaching teams that work with larger numbers of students.

Hope Public Schools Board Takes First ‘Opportunity Culture®’ Step

From SWARK Today, January 21, 2020, by Shelly Byrd

The Hope Public Schools Board took the first steps Monday toward orienting the Hope Public School District to an enhanced culture of teacher excellence through its participation in the pilot of the “Opportunity Culture” model.

The board approved job descriptions for two key elements of the model, the “Multi-Classroom Teacher” and the “Direct Reach Teacher” Monday night.

Voices from Edgecombe: How Opportunity Culture® Affects an N.C. District

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, January 16, 2020

I’ve had the privilege over several visits last year to Edgecombe County Public Schools to interview Opportunity Culture educators in many roles, from the superintendent to a beginning teacher. Located in a rural county an hour east of Raleigh, North Carolina, Edgecombe schools face challenges in recruiting and retaining great educators who have many large-city options nearby.

But the enthusiasm, commitment, and all-in-this-together spirit of Edgecombe wins visitors over quickly, and even after long days of interviews, my colleague Beverley Tyndall and I leave feeling rejuvenated. Read more…

12 Memphis Charter Schools Plan Opportunity Culture® Implementation

By Public Impact, December 18, 2019

With support from the Memphis Education Fund, 12 Memphis schools from several charter organizations will implement Opportunity Culture models in 2020–21 in an effort to improve student achievement by extending the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within schools’ recurring budgets.

Leadership Preparatory, STAR Academy, Compass Community Schools, Frayser Community Schools, and Memphis Scholars will all participate in the cohort. The schools serve student populations that are largely economically disadvantaged and students of color.