Brown County Schools is the recipient of a $5.5 million federal grant aimed at supporting and investing in all of the district’s teachers.

The money is a portion of a $47 million grant from the federal Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program that will be split between BCS, Perry Township School and Goshen Community Schools.

The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching was awarded the five-year grant to “expand and sustain work to support teachers and improve students’ academic success” in the three school districts, according to a press release from NIET.

“Brown County Schools is thrilled to be a partner with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching as a recipient of the Teacher and School Leader Incentive program grant,” Superintendent Laura Hammack said in the press release.

“As a small and rural school district, this grant will add significant value to the experience of teaching and learning.”

The announcement was made this morning in Indianapolis at Jeremiah Gray Kindergarten Academy in Perry Township Schools.

“Brown County Schools are honored, humbled and quite frankly just ridiculously excited about this opportunity and are still pinching ourselves that what was once a dream for our small and rural school community is now a reality. A reality for which we are affirmed by hope in great things to come,” Hammack said to the crowd gathered after the grant was announced.

The dollars will be used to to implement the TAP System for Student and Teacher Advancement for all certified staff.

The TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement has four components. The first component is multiple career paths, which will provide additional compensation to teachers for taking on leadership roles.

This means that as teachers pursue positions through their careers depending on their skills and interests, like mentoring, and move up the ranks so will their pay, according to the NIET website.

“This allows good teachers to advance professionally without having to leave the classroom and develops expert teacher leaders within schools to provide support to colleagues,” the website states.

The second component is outgoing applied professional growth, which provides resources for professional development.

The TAP professional development model provides teachers with professional “ongoing, job-embedded, collaborative, student-centered” learning that is led by “expert instructors,” according to the website.

The school day will be restructured by TAP to provide time for this development and weekly sessions will be focused on “individual needs of teachers and students, determined by data and student work,” the NIET website states.

Instructional focused accountability is the third component and uses the TAP rubric for teacher evaluations. This new rubric will give teachers feedback that “honors and rewards them for how well they teach their students.”

TAP will also provide ongoing training, mentoring and classroom support during the school day to help teachers meet these standards. Financial incentives will also be offered, the NIET website states.

Finally, teachers will earn additional compensation for taking on new roles and responsibilities on top of their base salary using the grant dollars. Additional money will also be paid to teachers for classroom accomplishments and performance of their students.

Grant dollars will be used in 32 schools serving 25,000 students, 1,500 teachers and 80 school leaders throughout the three districts, according to NIET.

Hammack said using the grant dollars to fund a system that will reward the district’s “talented teachers and leaders” will put the district in a better position to attract and retain “high-quality educators while simultaneously increasing student achievement.”

“We know that the single greatest impact on student achievement is a high-quality educator. These grant resources ensure a systemic process for teacher leadership and professional practice,” she said.

“We are honored to be a partner and look forward to great things to come.”

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