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Watervliet receives state grant to improve teacher, leader skills

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District to receive $170,000 in funding to help strengthen literacy, math instruction, implement new teacher evaluation system

The Watervliet City School District has tentatively been awarded a Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (STLE) Grant in the amount of $170,000 from the New York State Education Department (SED).

SED announced that Watervliet is among the 17 school districts in the state to receive this first-round award; another 32 districts are slated to receive grant funding, pending the approval of their Annual Professional Performance review (APPR) plans. The state approved Watervliet’s APPR plan in September.

The STLE grant program is targeted to support school districts and charter schools utilizing, as part of their implementation of an APPR plan, a comprehensive approach to recruitment, development, support, retention and equitable distribution of effective teachers and school leaders.

Through this grant, Watervliet will provide an opportunity for district teachers to return to school to earn certification in secondary science—namely physics, chemistry and earth science—as district officials anticipate a shortage in those subject areas in the next few years as veteran teachers begin to retire. Addressing the pervasive shortage of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) educators was one focus of the state’s STLE grant program.

Watervliet’s grant will also fund:

bullet graphican online data management system, called Teachscape, that will assist administrators with the new teacher evaluation system—documenting observations and storing teacher data

bullet graphicadditional training for administrators and teachers in the Charlotte Danielson model, the district’s chosen APPR plan.

bullet graphicpeer assistance programs for teachers identified through the new evaluation system as developing or ineffective;

bullet graphicinstructional coaches in the areas of mathematics, English language arts, and technology;

bullet graphicprofessional development activities to improve instruction; and

bullet graphica new mentoring program for school leaders.

“Now more than ever, with such significant reforms in education, it is essential that school leaders are provided the support and resources necessary to successfully tackle the difficult, challenging and yet rewarding work of being a school instructional leader,” said Watervliet Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lori Caplan. “This grant is really timely for us given that we recently hired a new assistant principal at the elementary school and a new UPK/literacy coordinator.”

Public school districts and public charter schools with at least 25 percent of students who are from low-income families were eligible to apply for the STLE grants.

Director of Curriculum & Instruction Kirsten DeMento in cooperation with the Capital Region BOCES Grants & Development Service wrote Watervliet’s successful grant application.