The Campbell River School District’s team of teacher coordinators started work at the beginning of the school year. From left to right: Erin Pickering, Christine Fraser, Kim Stix, Audra Schroeder, Drew Williams, Rachel Friederich, Shannon Hagen, Gillian Kirke and Jeff Lontayao. Missing: Desiree Dallaire and Cathy Fowler. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River Mirror

Teaching the teachers: investing in student success

Campbell River School District hires 11 new teacher coordinators

The Campbell River School District is investing in student success.

This year, more than half-a-million-dollars will be committed to 11 new positions in the district. Their title is teacher coordinator, but rather than teaching students, these teachers will be leading their peers.

The teacher coordinators come from all walks of life: some have been in the district in another capacity for years, while others are fresh from the Lower Mainland. But they’re all aligned in one goal: improving student success.

Campbell River’s grad and literacy rates have been much lower than the district would like to see. Over the last six years, the district’s six-year completion rates have shifted between 75.9 per cent and 84.4 per cent. Last year, it was 81.3 per cent. The Indigenous graduation rates are even lower, ranging from 50.6 per cent to 67.9 per cent over the last six years, while last year’s six-year graduation rate was 65.7 per cent.

READ ALSO: Campbell River School District one of two on the Island to offer summer school

The district’s reading assessment shows that an increased number of students are not yet or are minimally meeting standards in Grade 3. But the district’s writing results are within the provincial average.

Superintendent Jeremy Morrow said that while the results are concerning, they aren’t the result of poor intent nor are they a lack of effort from the system.

“We know that we have a dedicated, committed group of educators and so what this presents is an opportunity to do some things differently because we need to see some different results,” he said.

The new positions: District Teacher Coordinators in Mentorship, Elementary Literacy, Educational Technology, Student Opportunities and Options, Adolescent Literacy, Indigenous Cultural Resource, English Language Learners, Healthy Schools, French and Teacher Librarian are in place to support current efforts, but also to remove learning from silos.

“Their work is going to be really to align our strategic plan and the goals within the strategic plan and really try and align the work that’s being done in schools,” says Associate Superintendent Morgan Kyle, so that if you went from one school to another, the teachers will have the autonomy to do what they’re going to do, but these coordinators will be working side-by-side co-planning, co-teaching, observing, doing professional development around best practices.”

READ ALSO: Campbell River Board of Education approves $72-million budget

The district released its newest five-year strategic plan last fall. Its three priorities include: improve student achievement, build a culture of learning and wellness and honour Indigenous world views and perspectives. Among the success measures are a 25 per cent increase in students fully meeting or exceeding expectations in literacy and a five per cent improvement in the five-year and six-year completion rates.

With the investment in the new positions, Kyle is optimistic that there will be a tangible improvement in that first priority of the strategic plan: student achievement.

“We should be able to see a demonstrable difference in a very short period of time,” she says. “We want to see a gradual increase on our grad rates. We want to see an increase each year on our literacy.”

Part of the challenge these days is the changing definition of what it means to be literate.

“We’ll be working with science teachers, we’ll be working with PE teachers,” she says, because literacy isn’t just up to the English teacher. It’s “an everybody thing.”

The sentiment is echoed by Morrow.

“Literacy is not a K-3 piece or an English teacher’s job,” he said. “It is all our work. Literacy is a collective responsibility within every experience in our system.”

When they were exploring a teacher coordinator model, the district looked at other areas in the province where the positions were already in place.

Most districts have teacher-leader positions.

“It’s not an unusual way to go in terms of district centralized teacher coordinators, so teachers leading teacher work,” says Kyle.

What is different is the sheer amount of resources the district has committed to the model and during a pandemic no less.

In districts like Sea to Sky, just north of Vancouver, that have adopted the teacher coordinator model, Kyle said they’ve seen a significant increase in grad rates, especially within vulnerable and Indigenous student populations. But, she insists, “This is a Campbell River model.

“We’re really excited to get some teacher leaders working with teachers and supporting the investment and commitment and passion that they’re putting in their work and now to have some support on that I think will be welcomed by many.”

READ ALSO: Campbell River School District to explore more outdoor learning opportunities

On a sunny week in early September, the new teacher coordinators gather to brainstorm ideas, meet each other and introduce newcomers to Campbell River.

They’re district veterans and fresh faces; former Campbell Riverites returned home and newcomers.

Many were drawn to the position by the promise of mentorship and collaboration.

“As teachers, we’re continuous lifelong learners, so at any point, you can be a mentor or a mentee,” says Erin Pickering, district teacher coordinator of mentorship.

Pickering is an 11-year veteran with the Campbell River School District and recently finished her master’s degree in teacher collaboration.

“I’m very passionate about getting teachers together as an effort to improve their practices, to sustain themselves and to make great differences for students,” she says. “I think it’s really awesome that our district is recognizing the importance of teachers working together to advance student achievement.”

Rachel Friederich, district teacher coordinator of adolescent literacy, came to Campbell River after nearly 20 years in the Surrey School District. She’s returning to the community she grew up in, graduating from Robron Centre.

READ ALSO: Ten per cent of Campbell River elementary and middle school students opt for distributed learning

“I love working with adult learners,” she says of her new position. “I miss kids, but I really am inspired by the work of teachers.”

One of the goals of the new teacher coordinator team is to promote and develop best practices across the district. The hope is that departments and schools will collaborate further to find Campbell River solutions for students, increasing their grad rates and literacy skills in the process.

If the first week of meetings is anything to go by, they’re off to a strong start.

“I’ve been going home every night with a giant smile on my face,” says Pickering, “and that’s a wonderful way to start the year.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


@marissatiel
marissa.tiel@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Campbell RiverCampbell River School District 72Education

Just Posted

Kwick’kanum (Eric Pelkey), a hereditary chief of the Tsawout Nation, addressed the crowd that gathered at Mount Newton Cross Road and Highway 17 on Oct. 23. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway reopens after rally supporting Mi’kmaq fishing rights

Supporters call on government to recognize Indigenous treaty rights

The Baynes Sound Connector cable ferry. Black Press file photo
Baynes Sound Connector delayed due to emergency call

Paddleboarder was in distress near Union Bay Thursday

Premier John Horgan and Rob Douglas, BC NDP candidate for Cowichan Valley, meet with Cowichan First Nation elders, as they demonstrate spearfishing along the river. (Submitted)
Horgan acknowledges A&E sector hit hard by COVID-19, but showing signs of recovery

Hollywood North doing better than Hollywood South, Horgan says

Sooke man Rik Downer spent two weeks in the Royal Jubilee Hospital after contracting flesh-eating bacteria. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Sooke man’s bumped knee leads to fight for life

Man unknowingly contracts case of rare flesh-eating disease

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson,  BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau. (File)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Climate change and sustainability promises from the parties

Snap election has led to a short campaign; here’s the lowdown on the platforms

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

Most Read