California Educator

March 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 42 of 55

below. e school includes high percentages of families in poverty, English learners, and students with special educa- tional needs; roughly a third of the students do not have stable, permanent housing. By the time a given class reaches its senior year in high school, teachers tell me, there's roughly 80 percent turnover in students. On a continuum of teacher vs. administrative leader- ship, Encina is more teacher-led than most schools in its district, and San Juan Unified has more teacher leadership than most districts. SJTA President Shannan Brown was one of the 2011 California Teachers of the Year, and she is an effective advocate for teacher leadership at the local and state level. During her leadership of SJTA, the union and district have negotiated for the creation of school leader- ship teams at each school site, ensuring that teachers have a guaranteed voice and role in leading each school. To e x t e n d t h i s i d e a e v e n f u r t h e r a t E n c i n a , t h e u n i o n a n d d i s t r i c t w o r k e d o u t a m e m o r a n d u m o f un d erst an din g th at a d d ed f l e xi bi lity for th e s ch o o l and expanded responsibilities for teachers. Tara Nuth Kajtaniak, Fortuna High School I had an opportunity to visit a teacher who has both the IFT think tank and grant recipient experiences. Tara Nuth Kajtani ak t each es Engli sh and global studies in the small Humboldt County town of For- tuna, a bit south of Eureka. Tara fills me in on some of the key differences in understanding small towns, their schools, and their people. I would have anticipated the advantages of having a tight-knit community, but there are disad- vantages as well, including a degree of skepticism about change that can slow down innovation. Tara is the kind of teacher who welcomes a challenge, and she has equipped herself to meet those challenges in part through her IFT think tank involvement. (She drives or flies 250 miles or more to par- ticipate in these meetings.) Not only does this kind of engagement inspire and fuel her ef forts to improve, but the IF T connection has also helped Ta r a a n d m u l t i p l e c o l l e a g u e s l a n d m u l t i p l e I F T g r a n t s . Te n s o f t h o u s a n d s o f d o l l a r s h a v e h e l p e d h e r c r e a t e a vibrant global studies course, h elp ed a PE t each er de velop a n e w f itn e ss education program , and h elp ed anoth er c o l- l ea gu e initi at e a scho ol-c ommunity p ar tn ership in w hich graduating seniors creat e projects that "c h a n g e t h e w o r l d " ( i n a " t h i n k g l o b a l l y, a c t l o c a l ly " ki n d of w ay) . Tara's continued involvement with IFT provides her with an opportunity to exert a positive inf lu- ence on teaching around the state. Her IFT think tank came up with the idea of organizing an IFT Inn o v ation E xp o sition , organi z ed a s on e of th e preconference options for a CTA Good Teaching Conference. The union of fers multiple education conferences around the state each year, helping thousands of teachers learn from each other and improve their craft. The IFT Expo brought together dozens of grantees to share their work and inspire fellow teachers. After seeing these exciting exam- ples, expo attendees heard from IFT board members and grant application readers, who gave advice designed to help newly inspired teachers craft winning IFT grant applications. "Tara Nuth Kajtaniak is the kind of teacher who welcomes a challenge, and she has equipped herself to meet those challenges in part through her [CTA] Institute for Teaching think tank involvement." 41 March 2017 Shannan Brown

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - March 2017