A new policy at Indianapolis Public Schools will now allow staff to intervene in fights. The district was criticized earlier this month when a teacher was caught on camera failing to break up a brawl at Northwest Community High School on the city’s north west side. The teacher could be heard telling the students to stop fighting, but didn’t physically get involved–adhering to the policy in place at the time. You may recall that fight video went viral. The new policy, however, doesn’t allow staff to use force to punish bad behavior. IPS staffers will work out the details of implementation throughout the Summer.
Speaking of IPS, the district has released its Top Ten list of finalists for IPS Teacher of the Year. The district will select from the finalists listed below and announce who receives the top honor on June 5. Check out the list below (maybe your child’s teacher is on it):
· Jennifer Beeching-Gaines is a Secondary English teacher at Graduation Academy. Jennifer is a 19-year teaching veteran. She never planned on teaching, but life threw her multiple curve balls, all of which led her to the field. She exemplifies what differentiation should look like, meeting with students individually to support their specific needs on their journey towards graduation. Her motto is, “The connection with students feeds my soul.”
· Sarah Clark is a second grade teacher at IPS/Butler University Lab School 60. Clark has five years of teaching experience. Clark’s students believe in themselves, and they believe in one another. Her students also know they are scientists, mathematicians and authors who can change the world through thoughtful actions and words. Clark recognizes and responds to what children need emotionally and academically while genuinely caring about children.
· Katherine Hinkle is an AP Spanish teacher at Northwest Community High School. Hinkle is a relative “newbie” with two years of teaching experience under her belt, but she’s making an impact. When students enter Hinkle’s room, they see a room of firm expectations, deep commitment to their success and overwhelming enthusiasm. Hinkle’s proudest moments and contributions to education are steeped in student work and are a reflection of her students’ success. She said, “I am most proud of my work with students who saw college as an insurmountable task.”
· Melissa Mullins is a first grade teacher at Riverside School 44. Mullins is a 14-year teaching vet with a eye for the earth. Mullins’ ability to explain complicated foundational literacy concepts is noteworthy and exceeds the level of expertise of those with far greater tenure. Any time there is a school event, Mullins always volunteers to assist. She even worked with community partners to renovate a plot of land adjacent to the school to create a garden for her school community.
· Denise Paramore is a K-6 Literacy Coach at Ernie Pyle School 90. Paramore is the most experienced teacher of this 2015 class of finalists with a teaching career that has spanned 26 years. She began student-centered programs such as the “Popcorn Club,” in which she encouraged primary students to master all their sight words. Ernie Pyle is an “A” school with much of their success being attributed to Paramore, her work with students and her support for the teachers as the lone Title I staff member.
· Arturo Rodriguez is a fifth grade teacher at Charles Warren Fairbanks School 105. Rodriguez has 18 years of teaching experience and is the lone male teacher included in this 2015 finalist class. He has students work on projects such as creating videos to inspire, educate and entertain other students. These include a fun music video about being in a positive mindset for ISTEP, one about a celebration of black history and jazz and one dealing with proper hallway procedures. He also quietly makes home visits with diapers for the newborn baby or to bring food after a family loss.
· Rosalilia Stewart is a 9-12 grade Spanish teacher at Arsenal Technical High School. Stewart has eight years of teaching experience. One of the many contributions she has made to her school is holding the highest average of passing advanced placement (AP) students. In 2012 she inherited the AP Spanish program. Stewart said, “My greatest hope for my students is they take every learning opportunity and build their dreams and initiatives to grow. That hope is the fuel that keeps me teaching and building dreams, even in the toughest of circumstances.”
· Dana Stockton is a kindergarten teacher at Thomas D. Gregg School 15. Stockton has three years of teaching experience. Stockton does not defer to the students’ limited educational backgrounds as an excuse not to set high standards and expectations for the classroom. She consistently develops rigorous curriculum that supports the students’ needs by providing research-based instructional strategies.
· Amy Wackerly is a third grade teacher at Center for Inquiry School 2. Wackerly has 16 years of teaching experience. She consistently pushes herself to meet her school’s mission and focus. Often she takes it a step further and incorporates units of study that lead students toward action and community. She is frequently called upon to share her ideas and best practices by presenting at district, national and international conferences.
· Kim Ward is a PE/Action Based Learning (ABL) teacher at SUPER School 19. Ward has 22 years of teaching experience. One of her greatest accomplishments is becoming an Action Based Learning Master Trainer and thus helping create a setting that stimulates the brain while incorporating academics. Ward organized a “walk to school” program in which two buses were dropped off at a school not too far from School 19. She and six staff members walked to the park and back with the students. Ward said, “This was a great way to ‘energize’ students and staff.” Her jump rope club has performed at the Indiana State House, and twice for Shape Up Indiana.