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Teachers set state example

Shown from left are Susan Williamson, ALSDE; Becky Garner, 7th grade reading teacher; Cindy Odom, collaborative teacher; Amy Bryan, 7th grade math; AJHS assistant principal Victoria Anderson; district administrator Sonja Hines; and Rebecca Hardaman, ALSDE instructional coach.

Shown from left are Susan Williamson, ALSDE; Becky Garner, 7th grade reading teacher; Cindy Odom, collaborative teacher; Amy Bryan, 7th grade math; AJHS assistant principal Victoria Anderson; district administrator Sonja Hines; and Rebecca Hardaman, ALSDE instructional coach.

AJHS 1 of 5 demonstration sites for co-teaching

Alabama State Department of Education officials recognized local teachers and administrators Monday night, and said Andalusia City Schools is one of only five sites in the state ready to serve as a demo school for co-planning and co-teaching.

The ALSDE’s Susan Williamson explained to city school board members that the state’s systemic improvement plan demonstration project is currently being implemented in 10 pilot sites across the state, and is designed to improve educational and adult outcomes for all students, especially students with individual education plans (IEPs).

“Andalusia is one of our most effective sites,” she said.

Andalusia Junior High School is considered a model school.

AHS Assistant Principal Victoria Anderson explained that special education and general education teachers work together in a collaborative teaching environment.

But there also is a behavioral component.

“We all use common language,” she said. “We are championing children.”

The school is entering its third year using this approach, she said, and was certified as a model school in the past six months.

Sonja Hines, district administrator for the system, said local teachers have been trained with scientific, research-based strategies in co-planning and co-teaching, as well as managing the classroom.

“These teachers were recognized because of their efforts to implement research-based strategies,” Hines said.

Hines said local teachers have participated in professional development, and there have been national speakers here to work with them, thanks to the support the system has received from the state.

Collaboration has been introduced in reading and math classes, she said.

“We’re making sure all kids get the best instruction,” she said, adding that it can benefit both high-achieving and struggling students.

 

At AJHS, Cindy Odom and Amy Bryan work together as co-teachers in seventh grade math. Odom also works with Becky Garner in seventh grade reading classes.

“They’re in their second year,” Hine said.

All three, along with Anderson, were recognized by the state Monday night.

This year, the collaborative effort expanded. Jennifer Earnest and Lauren Lawson are working together in 9th grade reading, and Jody Adams and Vanessa Snyder are co-teaching language arts in the sixth grades. Adams also teaches with Brittany Whatley in the fifth grade. Sharon Bulger works with Lynn Castleberry in sixth grade math and with Mrs. Browning in fifth grade math.

The teachers teach on a variety of levels based on students’ strengths and weaknesses,” Hines said.

In the behavior component Hines said teachers at both schools are using universal language for behaviors, like appropriate voice levels and how to get help with subjects.

Other demonstration ready sites in the state include Hale County, Sylacauga City, Calhoun County and Athens City schools.