BETHALTO — Civic Memorial High School English teacher Jacob Carlson has been selected with six other teacher leaders to participate in the first Rural Teacher Leader Collaborative.

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Teach Plus, a national nonprofit that empowers teachers to lead improvements in policy and practice, in partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education and National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The program provides highly-accomplished teachers with the tools and training to guide teams to change practices to benefit students and the school community. As a participant in the program, Carlson will use available data to identify a major challenge facing his school and work with Principal Justin Newell to determine a course of action to address it.

The project they’ve selected will involve expanding reading and writing across the high school curriculum and helping students develop into lifelong readers.

Carlson said by joining Teach Plus and the RTLC, he can join high-quality educators from across our region in bringing effective learning strategies to the students.

"The best learning partners are expert colleagues who know what’s best for their students, and the culture of professional learning fostered by the RTLC gives me a model to bring back to my district," Carlson said. "With Teach Plus, I am reaping the rewards of stepping out of my own classroom and into the presence of my colleagues, which is the kind of learning environment I hope to grow in my school.”

“We know that change is most impactful when everyone, from teachers to principals, is invested in it,” said Bill Curtin, Teach Plus Teacher Leadership Coach, “Teachers need to be at the forefront because they have firsthand knowledge of what is needed in classrooms and how best to inspire their colleagues to make changes to their practice that will help students succeed."

The Rural Teacher Leader Collaborative is funded by an Educator Effectiveness grant from the Illinois State Board of Education and hosted by Bunker Hill CUSD #8. Each of the teachers selected for this program has achieved or is in the process of pursuing National Board Certification, the most rigorous professional certification in teaching. Teacher leaders were selected for their demonstrated ability to promote student achievement in their classrooms, their visions for impacting student outcomes, and the leadership skills they have already shown in their schools. This program will help them take the next step by providing formal training in leadership and change management to help extend their impact further.

The 2019-2020 Rural Teacher Collaborative Teacher Leaders are:

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Barbara Lindauer, National Board certified Social Studies teacher, Collinsville High School, Collinsville.

Jacob Carlson, English teacher, Civic Memorial High School, Bethalto.

Jeannine Butler, National Board-certified interventionist, Triad Middle School, St. Jacob.

Jennifer Stendback, National Board certified dean of students, Eisenhower Elementary School, Jacksonville.

Jody Bosomworth, National Board certified kindergarten teacher, Lovejoy Elementary School, Alton.

Mollie Lively, National Board certified first-grade teacher, North Elementary School in Taylorville.

Rebecca Wilkinson, and technology teacher, Bunker Hill High School, Bunker Hill.

About Teach Plus:

The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has developed thousands of teacher leaders across the country to exercise their leadership in shaping education policy and improving teaching and learning, to create an education system driven by access and excellence for all. teachplus.org

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