Southern Tioga School District selected for ‘Teach to Lead’ lab

MANSFIELD – The Southern Tioga School District, in partnership with BLaST IU 17, recently was selected to host a “Teach to Lead Leadership Lab” to showcase the work the team is doing in the area of teacher leadership.

Teach to Lead is a national initiative developed by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Superintendent Sam Rotella said the idea behind the project is “to support teacher leadership without teachers leaving the classroom, while causing changes in school culture in that teachers have a role in transforming teaching and learning.”

Of approximately 500 ideas submitted to Teach to Lead, this project is one of only nine selected from across the country to be chosen to host a Lab. The original district team members, including Dr. Christina Steinbacher-Reed, BLaST Intermediate Unit; Rotella; Patricia White, Warren L. Miller Elementary School principal; and Katherine Eglesia, teacher, began this work when their team was invited to attend a national summit in Boston in February.

“We left Boston with the beginning of a plan, and returned to further develop the model,” Steinbacher-Reed said. Based on the quality and potential of the work, the team was then granted the distinguished opportunity to host a Teacher Leadership Lab, which was held on Aug. 4 at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

The project, “Teachership: Creating a Culture of Windows, No Walls” is built upon the acknowledgement that teaching is incredibly complex work. Rotella said. “Those involved in the work of teaching realize that it is a profession that depends on the teacher’s ability to not only be an exceptional teacher, but to also be an exceptional leader,” he said.

The teacher leader would utilize their release time to lead or engage in meaningful professional learning experiences such as instructional rounds, conducting demonstration lessons in colleagues’ rooms and peer coaching.

“Solving the challenges facing our teachers and school leaders begins by empathizing with them,” Rotella said.

The day-long leadership lab provided the team with the opportunity to share their project with local, state and federal partners. They received feedback and support from the approximately 100 participants who attended this invitation-only event.

In addition to the core team, participants included representatives from the state and national departments of education, state Intermediate Units, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratories, universities and teacher leaders from across Pennsylvania.