Linden Public Schools Instructional Leadership Teams Celebrate A Year Full of Successes

The Instructional Leadership Team from Soehl Middle School. Credits: Gary Miller
Members of Linden Public Schools’ Instructional Leadership teams listening to Assistant Superintendent Denise Cleary at the ILTs’ year-end celebration at the district’s Academy of Excellence building. Credits: Gary Miller
Supervisor of Data and Assessment Dariusz Kondratowicz and Instructional Coach Reina Irizarry-Clark, who help guide the work of the ILTs throughout the school year. Credits: Gary Miller

LINDEN, NJ - Members of the Instructional Leadership Teams (ILTs) from all the Linden Public Schools gathered for an end-of-year celebration on Thursday, June 21, to reflect on what they've accomplished throughout the school year.

The ILTs, which were instituted in the 2016-17 school year, are made up of about 10 teachers
from each school. With the guidance of Assistant Superintendent Denise Cleary, Supervisor of
Data and Assessment Dariusz Kondratowicz, and Instructional Coach Reina Irizarry-Clark, the
teams break down assessment data and study innovative teaching methods, passing the
information and techniques on to colleagues at their respective schools.

“ILT members are making a difference throughout the district,” Cleary said. “Through professional development, data analysis and sharing best practice, they are establishing cultures within the schools that support collaboration and promote student achievement. Every ILT member is a valuable resource and their work is to be commended.”

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The teams have taken part in several memorable programs throughout the year, starting with “Data and Desserts” prior to the start of school, when they studied and broke down assessment data – with some sweet treats to help it go down easier.

Throughout the year they had several inspiring professional development sessions, including visits by innovative educators including Dr. Tracey Severns, who met with teachers to discuss the importance of leveraging high impact instructional strategies; Dr. Stefani Hite, who discussed the use of methodologies with the greatest impact on student achievement; and Harvey Silver, who introduced classroom techniques that inspire critical thinking in students.

In April and May, middle school and elementary school teachers took part in “Learning Walks,” in which volunteers from the ILTs modeled new instructional techniques, and their colleagues came into their classrooms to watch them in action while observing and talking with students.

The ILT approach gives schools instructional leaders beyond just the principal and allows educators to learn in a collaborative way from peers whom they trust and feel comfortable with.

“We begin our ILT meetings by reviewing the mission of the Linden Public Schools,” said Irizarry-Clark. “It is when we review and reflect on the mission, of ensuring our commitment to instructional excellence so that each and every student achieves their maximum potential, that we consider how we as a team can ensure we are fulfilling the mission.”

At the celebration at the Academy of Excellence lunch was provided by the Linden School Administrators and Supervisors Association and the Linden Education Association.  Each team member was given a certificate for their participation, as well as either their one-year or two-year pin. The teams also reflected on goals they set for their schools in September.

The ILT members were also treated to a presentation from Gemar Mills, who spoke about how he led a turnaround at Shabazz High School in Newark. When he took over as principal at age 28 in 2011, the troubled school suffered from low test scores and was in danger of being shut down. But he helped improve test scores and school safety and inspired students to believe in themselves and the school.

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