January 03, 2007
Gadfly was buzzed even before the champagne started flowing New Year's Eve, thanks to a late-December story in the Christian Science Monitor. It profiles Betsy Rogers of Alabama, winner of the 2003 National Teacher of the Year award. After receiving it, she transferred to the perennially struggling K-8 Brighton School just outside Birmingham. Rogers came to the school as curriculum coordinator (a teacher for teachers), believing the worst schools deserve the best instructors. "I don't see this as being a big sacrifice," she said. "It should be obvious why a teacher would want to go into a needy school." Should be, but often isn't, as this New York Times editorial about seniority "bumping" explains. Rogers, aided by her principal and a host of subject experts who work with Brighton's teachers, is turning things around. Last year, 82 percent of the school's fourth graders couldn't pass the state reading test--this year, 73 percent of that same cohort reached the "proficiency" mark. The district was so impressed that it asked Rogers to become its school improvement specialist. She said yes, but only if she could be based in Brighton. "I've learned more here in the last three years than I have in forever," she said. For her next act, perhaps she can convince more teachers to follow in her footsteps.
"When a Teacher of the Year takes on a failing school," by Gigi Douban, Christian Science Monitor, December 29, 2006