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TeachPlus names 30 new fellows to study teaching policy

About 150 teachers attended Wednesday’s TeachPlus event to learn more about teacher compensation options. (Scott Elliott) Scott Elliott

The Indianapolis chapter of TeachPlus, a national organization that aims to get teachers involved in education policy making, has named 30 new “teaching policy fellows.”

It’s the fourth group of TeachPlus fellows named in Indianapolis since the group launched locally in 2009. The fellows in August will begin the 16 month fellowship during which they will study problems that face teachers and work to find and promote possible solutions.

The group, which is led by IPS board member Caitlin Hannon as its Indianapolis executive director, has been a catalyst over the the past six months in spurring discussion about the problem of teacher pay in Indianapolis Public Schools.

Some ideas suggested in response to the group’s work have prompted debate among board members.

In March, the group invited every district teacher, with the union’s blessing, to attend a simulation run by Education Resource Strategies, a Boston-based non-profit that consults with school districts to help them better utilize their resources.

In small groups, they conducted an exercise in which they tried to create a new pay system for an IPS-like fictional school district. Several of the teachers said the activity helped them better appreciate the difficult challenge of finding new ways for teachers to make more money while living within the confines of the current system. Based on the options the majority of teachers chose during the exercise, a report authored by the fellows made recommendations for how IPS might change its pay system.

Working with top IPS administrators and Superintendent Lewis Ferebee, Hannon has since suggested hiring ERS to help the district with planning and preparation for offering new pay proposals as negotiations with the teachers union are set to begin in August.

But some of Hannon’s fellow board members balked the the potential cost and asked for any such contract to be competitively bid. Talks on the issue continue.

In 2013, TeachPlus fellows issued a report based on a survey of 500 IPS and charter school teachers that questioned systems of hiring and assigning teachers. The report found 85 percent of teachers surveyed had changed schools at least once by their fourth year of teaching, most against their will.

The new cohort will search for issues to study as it meets to discuss education issues in Marion County.

Of the 30 teachers, nine work for IPS, seven for township schools, 11 for charter schools and three work at former IPS schools now being run independently in state takeover by groups that contract with the Indiana State Board of Education. Five of them were named teacher of the year at their schools.

The new fellows are:

Charter Schools

  • Daniel Allen of Indiana Math and Science Academy West
  • Monique Keck of Indiana Math and Science Academy North
  • Jacob Kettlewell of Avondale Meadows Academy
  • Nicole Russell of Avondale Meadows Academy
  • Sabrina Roberts of Paramount School of Excellence
  • Jessica Monk of Paramount School of Excellence
  • Andrew Pillow of KIPP Indy
  • Melissa Scherle of KIPP Indy
  • Megan Kuehl of Tindley Renaissance
  • Ronak Shah of Tindley Prep
  • Becky Boruff of Christel House Academy South
  • Liz Retana of Carpe-Diem

Township Schools

  • Nikki Babladelis of Chapelwood Elementary School in Wayne Township
  • Erin Currie of Ben Davis High School in Wayne Township
  • Robbie Foote of Ben Davis High School in Wayne Township
  • Dane Butts of Warren Central High School in Warren Township
  • Carlota Holder of Creston Middle School in Warren Township
  • Sadie Stevens of Greenbriar Elementary in Washington Township
David Wheeler of North Central High School in Washington Township

State Takeover Schools

  • Chelsea Easter of Arlington High School
  • Brittany Scherer of Arlington High School
  • Sue Brennan of Manual High School

IPS Schools

  • Eve Montgomery of Arsenal Tech High School
  • Caitlin Smith of Arsenal Tech High School
  • Madeline Mason of Harshman Middle School
  • Eddie Rangel of Key Learning Community
  • Courtney Singleton of School 99
  • Julie Metcalf of School 61
  • Rebecca Johnson of School 58
  • Jessica Watson of Cold Spring School and School 56

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