Toni Harrison-Kelly and Angela Fulbright have been friends for 15 years.
Both work at the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, with Fulbright teaching geography, history, and AP world history, and Harrison-Kelly teaching engineering and technology courses. They both say they love the environment at BOMLA, an all-male academy that encourages leadership and brotherhood.
“I see, every day, how a great school culture and highly-motivated, skilled teachers can positively impact student achievement,” Harrison-Kelly said.
Because they know what effective teachers can accomplish together, the friends decided to voluntarily transfer and teach next school year at Sarah Zumwalt Middle School, one of seven “Accelerated Campus Excellence” schools for the 2015-2016 school year. The ACE plan incentivizes cohorts of effective teachers to teach at a low-performing school that has previously been designated by the Texas Education Agency as Improvement Required
“People everywhere are waiting for highly effective, replicable instructional models to help our lowest-performing students,” Harrison-Kelly said. “If we succeed at the school, it could have a significant local and national impact.”
The ACE plan is built on the district’s Teacher Excellence Initiative, the district’s effort to identify and reward effective teachers. Both Harrison-Kelly and Fulbright are candidates for Distinguished Teacher Review, which identifies the district’s effective teachers.
Harrison-Kelly and Fulbright said that, at first, they were skeptical of TEI.
“Initially, I thought TEI was just another set of random hoops to jump through to please administrators,” Harrison-Kelly said. “When I learned Dallas ISD was willing to be innovators, to pay teachers according to their performance levels, I began to pay closer attention.”
“The TEI system allows teachers to become entrepreneurs,” Harrison-Kelly added. “Each teacher can create their own individualized plan for professional success. I began to see TEI as my guide to actually getting paid for all the work that most teachers naturally do.”
Harrison-Kelly and Fulbright said they supported each other and grew through the DTR process. They said the TEI rubric, which measures a teacher’s performance and assesses, in part, how they prepare lessons and deliver instruction, was key to their professional self-reflection.
Fulbright and Harrison-Kelly said TEI’s ability to compensate teachers for their efforts in the classroom was a catalyst for their research and exploration of the evaluation system’s expectations. In their research, the friends compared the TEI rubric to their teaching and instructional practices. They also worked with their campus instructional coach to receive insight and guidance on how they could better perform under the expectations set by TEI.
Fulbright and Harrison-Kelly said they are excited to teach at an ACE school and continue to put what they have learned through TEI to good use.
“We are about to see what effective teaching can do for a school,” Harrison-Kelly said. “It’s going to be an exciting journey.”