Successful Students

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel (middle) greets students at Romulus Middle School with REA President Gary Banas (left) and RMS Principal Jason Salhaney (right). Photo: Kevin Lock

Collaboration in Michigan Gets National Attention

By Rosemary Carey, Michigan Education Association

In just a short period of time, Romulus Middle School went from being one of the 108 Michigan schools labeled “Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools” to the center of national attention as an education reform success story.

Within a week in September they were visited by Jo Anderson, senior advisor to the Secretary of Education and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, both of whom praised the collaborative efforts of teachers, administrators and community to bring about change.

The school applied for and received a $5.3 million School Improvement Grant (SIG) from the U.S. Department of Education. They used the money to make education reforms that included technology, new instruction models for math and reading classes, and providing teachers with a variety of instructional techniques which engage students and lead to raising student achievement.

Much of the school’s success can be attributed to the strong collaborative relationship between teachers, administrators and the community. Anderson toured the school to get a first-hand account of the successful efforts made by union leaders and the administration with the SIG money.

“Teachers have formed a productive partnership with school leaders and administrators to ensure that every student is experiencing success here. We all acknowledge that we’re all responsible for every student,” said Romulus EA President Gary Banas.

And teachers made some bold moves. The first summer, they were active participants in writing the SIG. This past summer, teachers attended in-service sessions, developed curriculum and learned new teaching strategies. To accommodate the new delivery of instruction, they added 25 minutes to the school day. Teachers adopted an alternative compensation program with an evaluation system based on student growth.

Banas said, “Everyone was on board. Trust was not being railroaded. We have the confidence in our leadership to help us better ourselves.”

Read the rest of the story on the Michigan Education Association website.

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