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Wednesday
Apr 23rd

Prepared to lead

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Selected quotes from the interview with Dr. Meria Carstarphen, Superintendent, St. Paul Public Schools.

Teacher development:
I believe in our teaching staff in St. Paul. There is still work to be done. Not everyone knows their content or has the same belief system about every child that comes to our schoolhouse gates. But I believe we are going to have what it takes to address content area expertise through job-embedded professional development, so they're getting real-time feedback on how they're doing, making sure that we're matching the best teacher to the best classroom structure and giving them things like time during the day to plan collaboratively, and time to really prepare for class. We can take their advice when they say, "This isn't working, the administration needs to go back and rethink this."

Selected quotes from the interview with Dr. Meria Carstarphen, Superintendent, St. Paul Public Schools.

Teacher development:
I believe in our teaching staff in St. Paul. There is still work to be done. Not everyone knows their content or has the same belief system about every child that comes to our schoolhouse gates. But I believe we are going to have what it takes to address content area expertise through job-embedded professional development, so they're getting real-time feedback on how they're doing, making sure that we're matching the best teacher to the best classroom structure and giving them things like time during the day to plan collaboratively, and time to really prepare for class. We can take their advice when they say, "This isn't working, the administration needs to go back and rethink this."

I want them to have all the strategies in their tool belts to be able to teach a kid who has an English language need and at the same time provide rigor to my gifted and talented kids.
I can't tell you how often I see us in urban education pushing middle class families out the door, of every race; we push them out the door.

We get so wrapped up in dealing with the lowest performing student. Because of all of this pressure behind No Child Left Behind, we have forgotten that we actually have a large student group, thirty percent of our kids, that are basically holding the center line on achievement. They are keeping the districts afloat. That percentage gets smaller and smaller. And we don't serve them well.

So what does it take to get a child who is very capable, very interested in learning and to get them engaged. What does it take to be comfortable with the idea that we might actually have a third grader who is five grade levels ahead of where they need to be. How do we engage that student, give them support? They are not an adolescent. They're a young learner. So that we don't want to have unrealistic expectations for them, but at the same time, we should be able to bring them along and let them grow, just blow the charts off. What does it take to get us as educators being comfortable with that?

Selma, Alabama roots
I see myself as a documentary researcher with a passion for visual arts that has manifested itself in photography. I was born and raised in Selma, Alabama, a very small town with a large, infamous reputation. I was not born in the 1960s, but my father was there. My father's family and my father's father's family are all from that area. I have a very deep sense of the value of education. I had a grandmother who, in addition to telling me that I had an old soul, told me that she really believed that my destiny lies in doing what I think not a lot of people are comfortable with, and that is bringing quality to all around education.
She told me about her beliefs for education. She insisted that all of her kids, even in the worst of segregation in the South, got a high quality education. My father refused to go to boarding school and ended up going to school in a one room schoolhouse.

He spent a lot of time talking to me about that. My path in education has been one where I had a healthy respect for what it meant to have a high quality teacher, even when the building wasn't right. It was a dilapidated one-room schoolhouse. We see it behind the church. We still go there because our family is buried there. I see that little building and think, ‘how could so many great things come out of that?' My dad and my grandmother and everyone always said it's not about where you are, it's about who is teaching you. He had a great teacher who for all practical purposes probably could have taught him in a paper bag, and that has stuck with me forever. It is what I believe. I wanted to become a teacher.

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