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Teaching coaches considered

April 09, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- Chambersburg Area School District's curriculum director has asked the school board to launch a teacher "coaching" program that would take 10 experienced teachers out of their classrooms.

Those teachers would spend the 2009-10 academic year mentoring newer teachers in grades three through eight, leaving long-term substitutes in 10 classrooms. The program is designed to continue for two additional school years.

Federal stimulus money could be used to pay for the coaching, Curriculum Director Chris Bigger said.

"They're really encouraging professional development," he said.

Bigger said administrators could select coaches in May and train them over the summer. The initiative would be designed to cut down on outside training and conferences, and improve students' reading and math scores.

Board member Norman Blowers said he worries that removing the best teachers from their classrooms would be like benching a football team's star quarterback during a major game.

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"We feel we can benefit ... a lot of teachers, versus the 10" classrooms, Bigger said.

He said the coaches might periodically set up "model classrooms," where less experienced teachers would rotate in to see effective methods in practice. More than half of the district's 600 teachers have only been teaching a few years.

The budget he drafted for the initiative showed $632,000 in costs for 2009-10.

"Our intent is to provide internal support for our teachers on a regular basis, rather than sporadically sending them to external trainings," the curriculum director wrote in a memo.

The school board asked that the program be put on its April 22 meeting agenda for further discussion.

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