The Hillsborough School District expects to learn mid November about the $100 million Gates Foundation grant. Superintendent MaryEllen Elia elaborated on the possible impact.
How do you see the grant affecting the school district?
I think it's going to be a very substantial shift in the culture of the district related to our teachers and the work that they do. There are many components involved in it. Basically, it changes the culture to a culture of developmental teaching skills. So that every person is evaluated not just by the principal but by a team of peers. So there is a group of teachers, teamed, who will go and work and evaluate teachers throughout the district.
Will parents and students notice a difference right away?
Oh, no, no, no. . . . It's a process, and it will be the implementation of new evaluation tools . . . and training of the teams to go out and work in collaborative ways with the teachers. It's not, for certain, going to happen overnight.
How did the grant come about?
We received a call in February from the Gates Foundation asking if we would be interested in . . . a partnership. . . . They had done a screening of 16,000 districts in the country. And they came up with 20 districts that they wanted to look at. . . . They came in with a team of people and they met with people throughout the county and the community to get a real feel of this community and our teachers and the teachers union and the administration.
Do you think this will change the nature of people applying for teaching jobs and remaining in teaching?
Yes. I think we're really hoping that we can attract great teachers to the classrooms. Although I think we're seeing more and more people saying a career as a teacher is a very good thing to do, we've got to make sure our teachers are paid enough that they can live and have a family and support their family . . . and still be great in the classroom with their kids.