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INDIANAPOLIS — Teacher retention is an issue plaguing many schools in our state, even right here in Marion County. So the biggest district in the state is taking a new approach to retaining their star teachers by offering them a new chance for professional development.
If you ask any teacher, they likely didn't go into education for the paycheck. It's about the kids. But often times the only way to advance in your career as a teacher, other than tenure, is to move to an administrative role. But that is no longer the case at IPS.
The district created what is called the Opportunity Culture. It's a chance for teachers to to advance in their careers while also staying where they are so desperately needed — in the classroom.
Rebekah Bennett is a part of this program at James Whitcomb Riley School #43 in Indianapolis. After being a teacher for 12 years, she eventually moved to a new role as a literary coach and now as a "Multi-Classroom Leader" in the Opportunity Culture. It's a role she has enjoyed for the past two school years.
Principal Bakari Posey says that many teachers want an opportunity for a bigger leadership role, but their passion is still with the kids in the classroom, not in the politics of the administration. He works one-on-one with his MCLs as they are called to check in on the teachers they serve and plan for better success in the classroom.
"The point of it is to get high quality teachers in front of more kids," Posey said.
Part of the benefit to the opportunity culture is to retain the district's star teachers. It also puts more teachers in front of kids because the MCLs will go into classroom and work with kids in smaller groups on various topics.
Whether the teacher wants to make more money for his or her family, to take on a new leadership role, or to impact more kids -- the Opportunity Culture allows that wiggle room in education.
Bennett says it has been a great chance for her as an educator to have an even greater impact on the school and students.
"It's been wonderful for me to be able to still have my hand on kids but yet still be able to effect more kids in other classrooms by working with their teachers," Bennett said. "But I think the biggest part of that is being able to touch more kids."
There's an additional stipend that is directly tied to how the teachers and those students perform on tests. That stipend provides extra incentives to the MCLs as they work with their assigned teachers and classrooms.