A Conversation Among South Carolina’s National Board Certified Teachers
Supporting and staffing high-needs schools is a critical issue for the state of South Carolina. I just got back from Columbia, South Carolina, the site of the SC Summit where the purpose was to use the voices of some of SC's most accomplished teachers to make practical, specific recommendations to the individuals who can impact policy at the local and state level.
Working as a consultant for the CTQ, my role was to equip 20 National Board Certified teachers (NBCT) to facilitate 10 break out sessions (9 of them repeat sessions done twice for two different groups) around various content topics that relate to supporting some of SC's most needy students using a process I designed for that purpose.
Dr. Ed Epps, one of the NBCT facilitators with which I had the privilege of working, is pictured below during one of his sessions.
Hodges Consulting Group, one the sponsors of the Summit, quoted Ed Epps in their press release about the event.
"I'm looking forward to coming together with my fellow NBCTs to explore fresh solutions for South Carolina's schools," said NBCT Dr. Ed Epps, a veteran English language arts and creative writing teacher at Spartanburg High School in Spartanburg, S.C. "All children can learn, but not all can learn in the same way. The challenge we, as educators have—and what this Summit affords the opportunity for—is finding effective and efficient ways for supporting our students, our schools and therefore, our communities."
South Carolina is the third state to hold a NEA NBCT Summit to date; North Carolina and Oklahoma had sessions earlier in the year. And the NEA's work on the summits has just begun. Plans are underway to convene National Board Certified Teachers in three more states. If you would like to read the recommendations by NBCTs that came out of the NC Summit you can do so here. Some of these recommendations have already been enacted as policy.
The training for the NBCT facilitators began in Elluminate where we spent two 2-hour sessions talking about facilitation skills and reviewing the detailed process that would enable the participants to craft policy recommendations for their discussions. The agenda for each breakout session was intense and included a round robin discussion on barriers, an affinity diagram that developed proactive and innovative solutions, weighted ranking of the categories in which the solutions fell, and then group collaboration to craft the policy statements around the top five categories dealing with supporting high-needs schools in the content area being discussed.
Bunny Bechamn, Kathy Crain, Cindy Pride, Andrea Derrick, Christine Dobson, Linda Dowling, Ed Epps, Louisa Jane Fleming, Carolyn Gaillard, Deborah Gatt, Vicky Gibson, Pamela Harris, Susan Keaton, Karen Leveaque, Bill McCormick, Deidre Murph, Buffy Murphy (SC's TOY and TLN's newest member), Ann Nichols, Leshonda Reed, and Yvette Robinson.
After the 40-some policy recomendations had been polished into the top 10, the NBCTs convened with SC policy makers to discuss them. The process doesn't end here— there are a number of important follow-up activities planned to build on the momentum of the SC NBCT Policy Summit, including policy papers, a discussion listserv, and plans for action at a district and local level.
While there were wonderful presenters throughout the Summit, including Buffy Murphy, SC's newest ToY; The Honorable Robert W. Harrell Jr., Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives; and Inez M. Tenenbaum, South Carolina State Superintendent of Education; the highlight for me was hearing former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor Richard W. Riley speak. I knew of him from my friend and colleague Terry Dozier, director of the Center for Teacher Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth U., who served as the teacher in residence in his USED administration. His powerful speech blew me away! So much so, I've decided to do a separate post on his message.
All in all, the SC Summit was an incredible experience that will help bring about a quality education for every child in every classroom, in every school in South Carolina.
If you would like to see other pictures of the event please check out Flickr.
Barnett Berry (CTQ), Karen Garr (NBPTS), Richard Riley, and Susan Carmon (NEA)