Parish schools to hire mentors with grants

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 10, 2017

By Christian Coffman

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Concordia Parish School District officials hope to improve student achievement next school year by hiring mentors and other staff with the help of grant funding.

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The Concordia Parish School Board approved job descriptions for 11 positions to be funded by two federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education. The Teacher Incentive Fund will create one position, and the School Improvement Grant will create 10.

“The TIF grant will allow us to pipeline new teachers and help us retain current teachers,” Interim Superintendent Loretta Blanketstein said. “The SIG grant is a school improvement grant that will provide additional support to our teachers and administrators, and increase the academic performance of our students.”

The SIG grant totals $1.9 million and runs through 2018-2019. The TIF grant is approximately $390,000 and runs through 2017-2018. If successful, both grants could last up to three more years after their intial two years.

The SIG grant creates six mentor teacher positions, three school level master teacher positions and one district master teacher position.

The mentor teachers could include those already on staff. They will perform roles such as model lessons, give teachers feedback and report to school masters.

The master teachers will be split between Ferriday Upper and Lower elementary schools and Ferriday Junior High School. The master teachers will be responsible for providing program development activities and helping with curriculum development and application.

“They will not teach classes, but guide teachers so that they do not struggle,” Personnel Coordinator Rhonda Moore said.

The district level teacher will oversee the work of the mentor and master teachers, Moore said.   

“The SIG grant will be beneficial because the teachers need more support available to them, even if they’re not struggling,” Moore said. “But I think that if these teachers receive this support, we’ll see a rise in student achievement. That’s the main goal.”

The TIF grant is designed to create partnerships with colleges and universities to attract and retain teachers.

The TIF position staff member will be in contact with staff at universities to ask about placement, and will serve as a resident teacher.

“It will help the district,” Moore said. “We are in need of good, quality certified teachers. We hope to attract them in order to help increase test scores and student achievement.”

Blankenstein said the grants could help CPSD become a B district.

“The two grants, we believe, will help Concordia Parish move forward for growth and also help us become a B school district,” Blankenstein said.

Applications are due March 22.