Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough's teacher evaluators eager as they train for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiative

TAMPA — It was like the first day of school, right down to the name tags and the superhero stickers on the tables.

Dozens of new peer evaluators — Phase 2 of a grand experiment for the Hillsborough County School District — filtered into the training room Wednesday, some a bit tentative, all eager for information.

"I'm apprehensive because this is very new and I don't know exactly what it will be like," said Toni Griffin, who spent 11 years as a school guidance counselor.

"But it is a new challenge for me," said Griffin, now a foot soldier in the district's Empowering Effective Teachers program. "I like the ideas. This is progress. We are moving forward."

For close to an hour, the new recruits were reassured that they made the right choice, leaving the relative comfort of the classroom for life on the road and grading their colleagues on how well they do their jobs. Everyone from School Board members to the head of the teachers union told them they are a crucial resource in the classroom and in the greater effort to improve public education.

"You have the most important job in the whole county," said Jean Clements, president of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association. While acknowledging that sometimes the evaluators will be resented or even vilified, she said, "The whole state and the whole nation are depending on us to get this right."

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the program seeks to train and nurture beginning teachers while taking a more critical look at those already on the job.

The experiment has taken on greater significance as the state moves away from teacher tenure and toward performance-based pay and promotion.

The district started last year with 74 peer evaluators for teachers. This year they are adding 56, enough to cover adult education, guidance counselors, media specialists, and specialists in prekindergarten and technology.

Workloads are expected to decrease for the evaluators and in the early months the rookies will be accompanied by second-year evaluators. In other words, the peers will have peers.

And the new evaluators will have had the experience of being on the teaching end of the process.

That knowledge was comforting to Anne Fleming, a new evaluator who used to teach second grade in east Hillsborough.

She said it was hard for some teachers at her school to go through the process at first.

"But I think everybody stepped up their game a little bit," she said. "Our school became more collaborative. I think most teachers want to do better and be better, and are looking for new ideas."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or

Hillsborough's teacher evaluators eager as they train for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiative 06/08/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 11:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Home of Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman hits market at $3.45 million

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is back on the market for $3.45 million after a brief hiatus.

    The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is on the market for $3.45 million. [Courtesy of Hi Res Media]
  2. Motorcyclist in serious condition after crash in St. Petersburg


    A motorcyclist is in serious condition after he crashed into a car in St. Petersburg on Thursday afternoon, according to St. Petersburg Police.

  3. 20 great images from around the globe for June 16 to June 23


    Photos of the week for June 16 - June 23: A deadly collision at sea, a WWII vet turns 100, gorgeous images from Bermuda, Germany, Libya, Milan and Rio, Otto Warmbier's parents lay their son to rest, and more.

    A commercial airplane flies past the moon above Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, June 17, 2017. (Valentin Flauraud/Keystone via AP)
  4. William March: Capin and Cruz appear destined for District 1 race

    Local Government

    Tampa City Council member Yolie Capin and state Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, appear headed for a primary in the District 1 County Commission race, which has Democrats worried they'll once again have strong candidates competing against each other in primaries, to the detriment of their chances against Republicans.

    Times Correspondent William March
  5. Watch: Gorilla dances like a 'maniac' in kiddie pool


    Zola, a gorilla who resides at the Dallas Zoo, has gone viral after showing off his dance moves.