Academic coaches update board on their program

In an effort to keep informed and updated on district programs and services, the Warren County School District board of directors heard from the district’s two academic coaches during a Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Committee meeting last week.

In a nutshell, the coaches are there to support teachers in any way they can from professional development sessions all the way down to one-on-one instructional support.

Superintendent Dr. William Clark explained that the coaches are like a “liaison between teachers and directors.

Jen Dilks, who along with Amanda McBriar, who is new to the position, serve in the role, said she does “quite a bit of work with data so we get a snapshot of our kids.”

She said she also, as instructional strategists, they help teachers get comfortable in the district and “kinda show them the ropes.” The coaches also stand in the forefront of implementation of the Pa. Common Core standards and the integration of technology into the curriculum.

“In regard to all the data, how you’re teaching all of our teachers how to utilize data from a daily educational standpoint, you don’t educate the parents… Is that data not getting shared (with parents)?”

Dilks said that she has worked with buildings on incorporating that type of data distribution during open houses.

“I think what they provide to the staff is an unsung hero,” Clark said. “I know it’s enhancing instruction, giving teachers (the opportunity) to try something and hold hands with someone who has been there, done that.

“I want the board to understand that these positions are critical.”

Gary Weber, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said that Dilks “has her hands in the skeleton of everything we do. They are at the heart of every piece of that, touching every single kid. It’s a full time job, plus.”

Board member Paul Mangione asked whether they are most frequently contacted for assistance by teachers or administrators.

“A little bit of both,” she said.

Dilks said that the teachers most often contact them when they are trying something new, need extra “hands,” or a fresh perspective on how to address a behavioral issue.

She said that administration will often bring them in for training in a specific area or for specific resources.