Kate Wheeler took a job with the District of Columbia Public Schools to play a role in improving one of the nation’s most struggling school districts. As manager of the implementation and daily operations of DCPS’ groundbreaking IMPACT teacher evaluation system, she saw firsthand the effect that the right kind of feedback can have on educators and schools.
“My biggest learning was that all adults really want to do a good job and are in schools for the right reasons, but there’s a dearth of assistance and support for teachers and school leadership. Leaders want to be good leaders, but they don’t always know how to support good teachers,” says Wheeler. “We learned what it meant to support teachers and teach leaders how to do that as well.”
After working with SchoolWorks consultants as a district representative on its autonomous school review and the documentation of its Teacher Improvement Fund grant, Wheeler took a job as a project manager with the company. Since then, she’s served as a “utility player,” working on a wide range of district, charter renewal, and accountability site visits, including work with the Tennessee Charter School Incubator project and leading school effectiveness reviews for Baltimore City Public Schools. As Director of Project Management, she works with SchoolWorks project managers and office staff to ensure the implementation of high-quality reviews and project implementation. “We focus on what can be done to achieve realistic goals in the short term,” she says.
To Wheeler, school visits work best when they are considered a “professional process, not a scary one, that helps schools see areas for reflection and improvement. It takes a lot of time and effort, but we need to support all adults in schools,” she says.