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United Way releases ëTeachers Matterí project results

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
Nearly a year ago, the Rowan County United Way received a grant to explore teacher effectiveness and through input from the community have discovered it takes the support of the whole community and personal commitment to make effective teachers, a report revealed.
Rowan County United Way was one of 1,400 United Way agencies nationwide chosen to receive the $137,500 grant. The grant initiative entitled Teachers Matter, was awarded in February by United Way Worldwide, formerly United Way of America. The grant is designed to study how to increase the graduation rate and increase student performance by supporting and empowering teachers through looking at teachers who are effective in what they do.
Additionally, the goal of United Way Worldwide is to cut high school dropout rates in half by 2018 and to increase the graduation rate of students by getting them ready for work or college.
Three states ó Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina ó were the only ones participating in the grant program. The project, entitled Teachers Matter, took more than a year to complete.
Today, more than 25 communities from across North Carolina will join forces with United Way to support teacher effectiveness and to accelerate student achievement. During a summit in Raleigh, participants will review the report findings in hopes of identifying local opportunities to increase teacher effectiveness.
The Impacting Our Futures: Supporting our Teachers and Schools summit will be at the McKimmon Center.
Through a series of listening sessions across the state with emphasis on Forsyth, Iredell, Lee and Rowan counties conducted among students, teachers and parents, law enforcement, community and business leaders the United Way gathered opinions on what makes teachers effective. Those surveyed shared stories about the effective teachers in their lives and how their lives were touched.
In Rowan County, 11 listening sessions were held and results indicated not every teacher exhibits the skills it takes to be effective.
ěThe listening sessions have pointed out that having an effective teacher in the classroom for every child is critical to their success. It is important to increase the number of effective teachers because it is believed this is the key to positively impacting our children thus decreasing the dropout rate and increasing the graduation rate,î said Bob Lippard, executive director of the Rowan County United Way.
In North Carolina, 300 students drop out every day resulting in an annual cost of $169 million to the state, the report said.
Based on the listening sessions, United Way is focused on creating community conversations across the state focused on how communities can support good teachers who are doing good work and to increase interest in prioritizing funding for education in our state, a statement said.
A Teachers Matter subcommittee was formed to be the central body that represents all those in our area with a vested interest in education, which included a list of effective teachers identified by all high school principals. Part of the project, the report said, is designed to offer tutoring support to allow teachers to practice the skills of effective teaching and create a teacher-mentor for academic at risk students.
ěTeachers need our support and students need the support of an effective teacher,î the report said.
Through the sessions the United Way was able to compile a description of a great teacher, which included:
Develops and presents challenging, interesting and interactive lesson plans using a variety of instructional techniques to equip students with real-world applicable skills and knowledge.
Possesses strong command of classroom subject matter and can convey that in a relevant and compelling way.
Communicates with parents through a variety of means to discuss studentís academic, social and behaviorial progress.
Engages with studentís family to determine if community supports are needed to ensure the studentís individual success.
Read the full report at http://www.unitedwaync.org/teachersmatter.php
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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