Edgecombe school district pursues new teacher recruitment plan


By Amelia Harper
Staff Writer

Monday, December 5, 2016

TARBORO — Edgecombe County Public Schools is pursuing a new way to recruit and retain teachers that may lead to promotions and increased pay potential for high-achieving teachers in the district.

The school system has embarked on a relationship with a Chapel Hill-based company called Public Impact in order to promote what the organization terms “opportunity culture schools” within the district. Public Impact defines “opportunity culture” as “extending the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within budget. Teachers gain time to plan and collaborate, everyone gets more support, and students get personalized, high-standards instruction.”

Edgecombe County Public Schools Superintendent John Farrelly explained the program to school board members at a special workshop session held last week. Farrelly was enthusiastic about the relationship with Public Impact, one which he referred to as a “talent performance enhancement and recruitment strategy.”

The program trains top-performing teachers to serve in a variety of leadership roles in which they oversee multiple classrooms or mentor multiple teachers who need to improve their own teaching strategies. The strategy will allow excellent teachers to be promoted and earn additional pay without being forced to leave the classroom and advance to administrative roles with less day-to-day student impact, Farrelly said.

“I see a lot of advantages to working with Public Impact,” Farrelly said. “Their track record in other areas where they have used this has produced data that is off the charts. It also provides career opportunities for young teachers that are not available in nearby counties. We will be one of the few school system to offer this in the state and the only one in northeast North Carolina, so I think this will be a good recruiting tool.”

Edgecombe County Public Schools has been plagued with a teacher recruitment and retention problem for sometime, primarily due to its lack of ability to compete with the supplements offered by other counties within driving distance. The most recent North Carolina School District Report Card indicates that the teacher turnover rate for Edgecombe County during the 2015-16 school year was 27 percent, more than twice the state average of 13 percent.

Farrelly said he plans for the “opportunity culture” strategy to be rolled out in three yearly phases across the district beginning next year: first, on the north side feeder pattern area; secondly, in the Tarboro and Princeville feeder pattern; and thirdly, on the south side of the district.

The cost of the involvement of Public Impact will be roughly $35,000 the first year and will increase as the program expands. Bryan Hassel, co-director of Public Impact, said he expects most of the cost to be covered by grants the school system is pursuing or through professional development funding from the state.

School board member Marva Scott said she is eager to see the results of the program.

“We have to move forward,” Scott said. “These are changing times. I am excited to see what this will bring to our county.”

Edgecombe County school board chairwoman Evelyn Wilson said she was glad to see the program begin on the north side of the district, an area that she said traditionally has been given less priority in the past. She also is confident that the program will improve the school district as a whole.

“I see this as a win-win situation,” Wilson said. “I think it will impact student achievement and will be the ultimate recruitment tool we can use in attracting new teachers. This will make us stand out and lead to great gains.”