Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

November 9, 2013

Lockport schools awarded grant

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Lockport City Schools is one of 39 recipients from across the state for a grant designed to strengthen teacher effectiveness.

Last month, State Education Commissioner John King announced 33 school districts and six BOCES districts had been awarded a total of $24.8 million in the second round of the Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness grant program. From that total, Lockport will receive a total of $625,625 over a two-year period.

The goal of the STLE grant is simply to provide teachers and principals with additional opportunities for professional development and to create an opportunity to share expertise with one another, said Rosanna Sandell, the district’s director of research and development.

For Lockport teachers that could come in the form of increased number of professional development days and more instructional coaching or mentoring. Basically, more teachers helping teachers.

Lockport teachers seem to be interested in doing just that, Sandell said.

”’I love what I do, but I’d like to do a little more,’ people have actually said that,” Sandell said. “The goal is to do better in student achievement. ... doing a better job in professional development, this is one way to get at that.”

The grant money will be used for hardware, as well as professional development conference and workshop travel. If a teacher has to miss instructional time, the cost of a substitute will be covered under the grant as well. For teachers serving as mentors, the costs for training courses and stipends will also fall under the STLE grant program.

Some of the grant funds will be used for software relating to Annual Professional Performance Review data collection. That’s because only teachers who are rated effective or highly effective can participate in STLE-funded mentoring or coaching roles.

Teachers are chosen by a district committee and put in their roles by December.

Sandell said the money also covers the district’s cost of working with Niagara University. Lockport and Niagara collaborate in a number of ways, from student teaching to curriculum development. Niagara students who are majoring in the education field offer assistance to Lockport students as well.

The grants are funded primarily by New York’s Race to the Top federal funds. Last month, King announced a third round of grants totaling $24.2 million was available for districts.

”Too often, our highest need students miss out on great teachers and school leaders,” King said. “STLE grants will help high needs districts recruit, develop and retain effective teachers and leaders. It’s all about supporting our educators and helping our students succeed.”

Forty-seven applicants received grant awards totaling approximately $22.7 million under the first round of the program in October 2012.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.