Danieli Parker describes watching the teachers on her campus work as similar to watching bakers on television.
“When you watch a baker on those baking shows, and they decorate those cakes, and you’re like, ‘They’re making it look so easy. If you put that piping bag in my hand, it’s going to look like a catastrophe,’” the Hallsville North Elementary School principal said. “That is what it’s like being the leader of this campus. Getting to walk into their rooms, it’s watching masters at work and you just are in awe of the talent that you see.”
The campus recently was named a Model Professional Learning Community at Work by Solution Tree, a company that provides professional development to educators, its website says.
According to Solution Tree, PLCs are schools and districts in which educators recognize the key to improved learning for students is ongoing, job-embedded learning for the adults who serve those students. The three big ideas of a PLC ask educators to focus on learning, build a collaborative culture and create a results orientation.
Hallsville North Elementary’s recognition is the fifth in a row for the school, Parker said. About 200 schools in the United States and Canada received the honor. Pine Tree Primary School and White Oak Primary School also were recognized.
Parker said the school has to reapply each year. The application is essentially essay writing, she said. The school has to detail its history, teaching processes, what it’s changed and data.
The school’s teamwork among the teachers is what helps it stand out as a PLC, she said.
Jena Peck, a third-grade teacher, said the teachers work as a team by grade versus teachers working on just their class.
“At the third-grade level, we consider all third-grade students our students,” she said. “We focus on student learning, and we try to make decisions to help students who are lacking to be able to be on grade level and above. We just want to push them to the next level.”
Misty Roberts, a kindergarten teacher at the campus, added the teachers also will share materials with other grades if there is a need.
Another third-grade teacher, Leigh Ann Covington, said the campus is “all about the kids” and what is best for them.
“No teacher, even if there’s a new teacher, they’re never left alone or on an island,” Covington said. “Everybody contributes and helps new teachers.”
The campus also sets individual goals for each student, as opposed to just trying to meet broader district goals, kindergarten teacher Cassie Davis said. More focused goals help the teachers celebrate student growth more.
Part of the PLC philosophy is building teacher leaders, Parker said. The campus works to give both new and experienced teachers the tools they need to be successful.
“I think everybody is just honored to receive the award and the recognition, but even without it, we’re still dedicated to what we believe,” Parker said. “We’re excited to share that with other people. Because of that recognition, we do have other districts and other schools that come and visit us, and come to our team meetings, and go in our classrooms to see what we’re doing.”
The opportunity to share what the campus is doing with other schools is exciting to Parker as a leader, she said. She said she hopes it can improve education in the area.
“Part of the PLC philosophy is, these are our kids. And as a leader, I view all kids in East Texas as our kids,” she said. “If there’s a way that through the practices and things that we’ve set up, if it can help others, I want other people to be able to learn to help our kids and others do the same thing, because we want all of our kids to be successful.”