Pinellas County superintendent Julie Janssen told School Board members last week that Melrose Elementary's budding partnership with the University of Florida will proceed after all.
"I continue to work closely with my administrative team, including Region 4 superintendent Rita Vasquez, to create a partnership with the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning to transform Melrose into our district's first professional learning school," Janssen wrote in a June 20 e-mail to the board.
Two weeks ago, Janssen had said that complete implementation of the Melrose/UF venture was being delayed and cited several factors, including a new principal, the involvement of now-retired regional superintendent Carol Thomas and the anxiety of first- and second-year teachers. She said then, "We're really going to use this year as a planning year."
She also said at the time that the proposal didn't need to go before the board for approval. However, Janssen will now present the plan to the board for approval at the July 26 meeting.
Here are the specifics, according to Janssen's e-mail:
"Melrose will receive for the 2011-12 school year targeted resources that will assist administrators and teachers in working together to improve their practice by participating in multiple job-embedded professional development opportunities. Specifically:
• A half-time UF professor in residence will work on site.
• The Teacher Leadership in School Improvement master's degree program will be expanded.
• Demonstration classrooms with master teachers will be developed featuring effective instructional strategies for other teachers to study.
• Communities of Practice will be developed within the school to support teacher learning and growth.
• We will work with UF interns to keep those highly trained teachers in our district after they complete their university programs.
''Only one facet of the program will be postponed until next year: the decision to re-interview staff. The re-interviewing process will be delayed until next year to allow those teachers currently assigned to Melrose to experience the new culture that will evolve as a result of these changes. Among the hallmarks of that new culture will be scholarly congeniality, teacher leadership, a sense of empowerment for educators as they grow as professionals, and high expectations of administrators, teachers, support staff and students.
''It is my belief that this initiative will lead Melrose educators to greater job satisfaction which will translate to higher performance, leading to increased student achievement. I look forward to sharing more details with you as we move forward."