While receiving a TIF grant is a great milestone in grantees' journey to reform their human capital management system, sustaining the work beyond the grant period is fundamental. To learn more about how grantees are thinking about sustainability, our TLP TA team recently interviewed Helen Martin, TIF project director for the School District of Lee County.
We would like to share your success stories. Looking back, what are the top three accomplishments specific to your TIF 4 grant?
The top three accomplishments specific to our TIF 4 grant include:
- Increasing the number of "effective" and "highly effective" educators in high-need schools.
- Providing just-in-time job-embedded professional development for educators in high-need schools through the creation of mentor, teacher leader, and principal lead roles.
- Developing and institutionalizing a district-wide system for job-embedded professional development.
If your "policy climate" has changed since the project started, we are not surprised! Please tell us about any shifts in your policy context specific to your TIF 4 project and the ways it has changed.
During the tenure of our TIF grant, we have experienced several policy climate changes locally and at the state level. Locally, over the course of the grant, three superintendents have led Lee County. Thanks to effective communication structures such as board briefings, cabinet meetings, and committees, each superintendent was aware and supportive of the grant's goals.
At the state level, there have been changes in legislation regarding teacher evaluations. However, thanks to effective structures in the district such as committees and task forces, the district was able to adjust teacher evaluation requirements to align with state statute, grant requirements, and stakeholder concerns.
While praising you for a job well done, we are interested in your approach to sustaining your accomplishments. Please tell us about your sustainability plans.
Our sustainability plan includes leveraging the career ladder opportunities for teachers and administrators to increase the number and retention of "effective" and "highly effective" educators in high-need schools. We are providing additional career ladder opportunities for teachers and administrators in high-need schools. Aside from having additional opportunities to participate in career ladder roles, the career ladder roles are designed to provide job-embedded professional development to developing teachers and administrators in high-need schools. The career ladder opportunities attract highly effective teachers and administrators for work in high-need schools while also providing other teachers and administrators opportunities for coaching and support.
Due to increased stakeholder support and understanding of return on investment, district federal and non-federal resources will be utilized to continue to fund and support the work after the grant has ended. I attribute this commitment to our district career ladder committee. In 2015, the district's career ladder committee created a subcommittee charged with the sustainability of the TIF grant. The chief finance officer, payroll director, union president, and grant's project director serve on this committee. The subcommittee meets monthly with the whole committee. During each monthly committee meeting, subcommittees share progress on plans and receive feedback from various stakeholders. Teachers, teacher leaders, district leaders from all divisions, support personnel, and school principals participate in this committee and various subcommittees.
This committee and subcommittee seek approval and communicate with appropriate stakeholders ... my biggest lesson I would share with other TIF grantees is to involve various stakeholders from all levels at the beginning of your project.
As a result of our work, roles created and initially funded by the TIF grant were expanded through other funding sources. This subcommittee has also leveraged our current TIF grant to secure external evaluations to measure the impact of our TIF grant. Most importantly, this committee and subcommittee seek approval from and communicate with appropriate stakeholders. Without this committee comprised of stakeholders from the school level to district level, our program would not have evolved to the sustainable or high-quality model that it is today.
What have you learned through your own sustainability process that you think could benefit other TIF grantees?
Build relationships, listen, evaluate your impact, share best practices, and do not be afraid to make adjustments when needs arise or contexts change (and they will).
As the leader of our grant, I invest time in visiting those impacted by the grant at their schools and in their classrooms. I listen. I share their successes. I share their struggles. Then, I try to implement, adjust, and refine our program based on their stories. I try to never lose touch with the students and teachers who are impacted by my work.