Westerly administrator’s team was a state ‘Pitch Fest’ winner of teacher-prep award

Westerly administrator’s team was a state ‘Pitch Fest’ winner of teacher-prep award

The Westerly Sun

WESTERLY — Alicia J. Storey, assistant superintendent of the Westerly Public Schools, was part of a team of educators chosen to receive $15,000 to help improve teacher preparation in Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Department of Education and the state Office of Innovation presented the award at its Ed Prep Design Challenge Pitch Fest in August.

Two winning teams, made up of educator preparation faculty and K-12 educators, were chosen by a panel of judges and will have the opportunity to implement new design strategies during the 2018-19 academic year.

“We are delighted to be the first of two teams to be chosen to receive the $15,000 award to implement the proposal,” Storey said. 

Both winning proposals focused on supports for English learners and closing the achievement gap for that growing population of Rhode Island students.

Educators met monthly starting in November to strategize how to better design and support teacher preparation in Rhode Island. Eighteen educators from around the state participated as Ed Prep Design Fellows.

Beginning in June, the design fellows teamed up with higher education partners to identify challenges and create solutions. Nine teams submitted proposals, with five teams moving on to the Pitch Fest.

The five finalist teams pitched their proposals to a five-member panel of judges.

Storey’s fellow team members were Kelly Donnell from Roger Williams University, Theresa DeRiso, an ELA curriculum coordinator and literacy coach for the Lincoln Public Schools, and Liz Russillo, a teacher at Smithfield High School.

“We targeted our proposal on supporting ESL teachers using calibrated videos of practice,” Storey said. 

The project seeks to determine “power standards” for teachers of English as a second language. It would then create a bank of calibrated videos and accompanying feedback that differentiates between practice that approaches and meets the standards to be used as professional learning with clinical supervisors and teachers.

“We also see this proposal as scalable too, in that partner districts could then use the videos for professional development with teachers. It has the potential to expand to other educator preparation programs and is adaptable to other high-need areas such as special education, math and science instruction,” Storey said. 

State education officials praised the teams and the Ed Prep Design Challenge process. 

“Educator preparation programs and our K-12 system cannot operate in isolation,”  state Education Commissioner Ken Wagner said. “We must work closely together to build a strong career pathway for all educators, from preparation to employment and beyond, through lifelong professional learning.

“The foundation for great teaching starts in our educator preparation programs, and the Ed Prep Design Challenge is helping to ensure that future teachers are being trained and supported in ways that align to the needs of our schools, districts and, most importantly, our students.”

rblessing@thewesterlysun.com


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