Over the past few years, the Rapides Foundation and its local education fund, the Orchard Foundation, have worked with the Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) to help emerging and current instructional leaders in central Louisiana learn how to recognize highly effective practices within the classroom, and how to coach other educators to implement those practices.
The foundation's recently published 2013 annual report highlights this professional development work and gives some educators the chance to talk about their experience. One example: in school districts like Allen and Grant parishes, teachers conduct peer observations to learn from one another and students are engaged in the learning process. "It has helped teachers feel like they have more support. If they are struggling they can say ‘I need help’ and they will get help. They don’t feel isolated," said Rebecca Reeder, elementary supervisor for the Grant Parish School District.
School leaders attribute the recent success in state rankings to the partnership with the foundation and CEL. "When we began this work we were ranked 35th in the state. In recent years, we have consistently ranked 11th or 12th in student achievement," said Diane Marcantel, personnel and school improvement supervisor for the Allen Parish School District. "It's easy to get everyone on board when success is clear."
CEL's Executive Director Stephen Fink praised the foundation's long-term focus on educational leadership: "The Rapides Foundation is to be commended for its long-term investment in developing strong instructional leaders. They understand that the quality of teaching and learning is directly related to the quality of leadership support teachers receive from principals and district leaders. It’s been a privilege for CEL to work in service of such an important mission."
For more information on the work of the Rapides Foundation, read their full 2013 annual report "Making a Difference - Working Together for Healthier Communities."