Sabrina McClard, principal at J. W. Wiseman Elementary School, and Tressa Sanders, assistant principal at Jack Anderson Elementary School, have been chosen to participate in the Governor’s Academy for School Leadership.

GASL is a partnership between the Tennessee Governor’s Office, Department of Education, Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College and local school districts.

The purpose of the program is to provide a one-year leadership development experience for assistant principals from across Tennessee. It is designed to give assistant principals individual growth toward becoming a highly effective building principal trained to give educational opportunities for all students.

Sanders and the other fellows will spend one weekend per month at training sessions at Vanderbilt University. In addition, the fellows will work one day per week at their mentor’s school, will participate in an individual coaching session every other month, and will be required to attend a weeklong summer institute at Vanderbilt University.

McClard will mentor Sanders during the one-year program. The process began in October 2015, when Sumner County Schools Deputy Director Dr. Jennifer Brown recommended the two educators to participate in the program.

Sanders has taught and served as lead educator at Nannie Berry Elementary and was an instructional coach at Vena Stuart Elementary and George Whitten Elementary. McClard taught third and fifth grades at Westmoreland Elementary, and has worked at the central office as an instructional coordinator before becoming principal at JWW.

Sanders stated that the program will give her tools in her toolbox to help her when she works in her own building. She will develop skills to help teachers look at individual ownership of ways she/he can improve teaching skills.

“The benefit for her is that she has a strong home principal, strong home school and then she gets to come to Wiseman, which is a completely different demographic than what she has,” McClard said. “So she gets to see two buildings in action that are completely different, plus take the training she is getting at Peabody and putting it all together. It is going to make her the best she can be, and she is already great.”

Sanders will develop skills to work with the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) within her school to help teachers gather information on what they want a student to know; how will they know, if that has happened; what can the teacher do, if a student doesn’t know; and what to do, if the student already knows. The PLC would gather this data using pre and post common formative assessments, and through data discussions they will work together to target curriculum standards for their students.

“We talk a lot about the cycle of assessment, where it’s a circle,” McClard said. “You teach, you assess, you analyze, and you produce an action. Everything we do meets that cycle of assessment.”

Sanders has not just been an observer at JWW. She is receiving hands on experience in the role as principal. According to McClard, she has already handled bus issues, classroom walk-throughs and discipline. In addition, she has worked with PLCs.

“I am getting tools for my toolbox,” Sanders said. “I am seeing things I really would like to implement. I have picked up on strategies that I would like to use with students.”

“We are honored to be a part of the program,” McClard said. “It has been a learning experience for both of us. I’m excited that the governor is passionate about building strong leaders in the state of Tennessee.”

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