Corporation fosters teachers’ professional growth
Teachers in Merrillville schools hoping to take their careers to the next level have the support of the Merrillville Community School Corporation.
The administration annually invites its educators who have completed the groundwork to becoming administrators to participate in the “Grow Our Own” Administrative Preparation Program.
“We want people far enough into the process that they could be an administrator next year,” said Executive Director of Personnel Dr. Reid Amones. “We want to help people get to where they want to be.”
According to Dr. Amones, teachers will get to see what it’s like to be an administrator in the school corporation.
He said the advantage to helping educators further their careers within the same school district is they already have a familiarity with it.
“They know the families, expectations, administrators, teachers; they have fewer hurdles to overcome than someone new coming into the corporation,” Dr. Amones said.
Though only in an informal existence for a few years, the program has grown and helped elevate many throughout the corporation. Last year, five out of the eight participants rose to leadership responsibilities.
“After this program, I was able to apply for and become the Dean of Students at Merrillville Intermediate School,” Nicole Laird said. “This program gave me the opportunity to gain experiences that were necessary for me to step up into this position.”
Mrs. Laird, now assistant principal at Salk Elementary School, previously served as an instructional coach at Wood Elementary School and MIS. She has been with the corporation in other capacities as well, for a total of 14 years.
“The program offered me the ability to see what happens in the school outside of individual classrooms,” she said. “I was able to see the impact a principal can have during key times of day, especially more unstructured times.”
Grow Our Own participants cover an array of topics at monthly meetings, including curriculum, finances, discipline, staffing, and new laws that will impact the corporation. In addition, participants are invited to become substitute administrators when necessary or offer relief for the building administrative team.
“During our time substituting, we would often supervise lunches, investigate small discipline scenarios or help out in any ways necessary,” said Mrs. Laird.
In 2020, eight teachers, including MHS educator Chyamiah Martin, are participating in Grow Our Own.
“I have completed my administrative coursework, and I am preparing to take the licensing exam soon,” Ms. Martin said. “After completing the program, I hope that district leaders will see me as a serious candidate who is prepared to fill future leadership roles within the corporation.”