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Dubuque Schools Implement Teacher Leader System

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DUBUQUE, Iowa - Teachers in Dubuque are some of the first in Iowa to implement a program at the center of the state’s latest education reform.

Iowa’s Teacher Leadership System is bringing more than $3 million to the Dubuque School District.

It requires full time teachers are paid more than a minimum of $33 thousand per year.

Right now that program involves only 39 of Iowa’s schools districts, but state education officials hope all schools use it by 2016.

In Dubuque the Teacher Leaders will each receive about $3000 more per year.

As 5th grade teacher Gina McCarthy gets ready for her 20th year in the classroom, she’s keeping one thing in mind.

McCarthy said, “You have to make that you’re focused on the kids. The kids have to come first. “

That’s a philosophy she’ll share through her new role as the Language Arts Leader at Fulton Elementary School. She’ll share her experience and best practices with the less experienced teachers on staff.

Dubuque Schools Associate Superintendent Lynne Devany said, “We’re taking highly regarded and highly successful teachers and releasing them to work full time with first year teachers.”

In many classrooms there will actually be two teachers; a veteran teacher and one just starting out. The school district says the goal is to improve student’s test scores and how well they perform in the classroom each day.

Devaney said, “The fact is we’re looking at the 21st century learner and we’re starting to measure that. Do we have kids who know how to collaborate with each other? Do we have kids who know how to communicate with each other? “

There is also a teacher leader for each of the core subjects; science, math, reading and social studies, in every single Dubuque school building.

McCarthy said, “We are all doing everything as a team so that all of our kids can be successful, not just some of them.”

Devaney said an influx of baby boomers retiring has caused the district to hire many new first year teachers.

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