This is my buddy and former colleague Jenny Corroy (the woman in the hip shades, not the fabulously feathered chicken). Jenny began teaching in 2004 and now, eight years later, is one of the finest educators/people I know. Point in case: this past spring 80% of her predominately Hispanic and low-income students at her open-enrollment public school passed the International Baccalaureate Language A (English literature) exam – she basically closed the achievement gap for her content. Every time I talk to Jenny or visit her classroom or look at her materials I become a better teacher (and person!). At the school where she works, her ideas and ways of teaching influence her colleagues and administrators.
Despite her extraordinary achievements Jenny makes the same as everyone else (even teachers who potentially received negative performance reviews) and her salary increases at a lock-step with an occasional small bonus (which, again, almost everyone automatically receives). Additionally, beyond being a content or grade team leader Jenny has no opportunity to move forward professionally without leaving what she loves most – teaching.
So what should we do with Jenny? Study after study has shown us that exceptional teachers are the silver bullet when it comes to the achievement gap (check out a fascinating report by TNTP on the “irreplaceables” – teachers like Jenny). How could we expand Jenny’s influence to reach more students? In my perfect world, Jenny would continue to teach but have more conference time during which she would coach other teachers and lead a school as a lead or master teacher. She would also make six figures. There is a great article over at Education Week called Expanding the Impact of Excellent Teachers which has more ideas for how great teachers could potentially make an even bigger impact. I’m not sure how I feel about one of their ideas – putting kids infront of computers to save money on teachers (actually, I am sure how I feel about that) – but I think there could be other more meaningful ways to use student’s time like internships at local business or law firms or volunteer options at hospitals and nursing homes.