District targets teacher support: Administrator to oversee curriculum

FORTVILLE – Mt. Vernon schools are dedicating more resources to making sure lessons and the tools educators use to teach them help students master state education standards.

In August, the growing district of about 3,600 students will appoint an additional staff member to manage student curriculum and assessments. In the past, one staff member was responsible for monitoring how teachers in Grades K-12 incorporated state standards into their classwork and measured students’ progress.

Dividing those responsibilities, Superintendent Shane Robbins said, will help the administrative team keep a closer eye on educators’ methods while also providing them training opportunities specific to their grade level’s needs.

When former director of curriculum and assessment Jeff Bond announced plans to leave the corporation at the end of this school year, Robbins saw an opportunity to create a position focused on students’ formative years.

District leaders tapped Heather Noesges, the Fortville Elementary principal since 2013, as the district’s new director of elementary education, overseeing roughly 1,700 students. Meanwhile, director of special programs Scott Shipley will absorb those duties for the 1,900 middle and high school students in addition to his work on vocational and other programs.

The realignment works well, Robbins said, as Noesges has expertise in elementary school needs and can provide support that wasn’t always available when one administrator had learning for the entire student body to consider.

Noesges, whose 260-day contract pays $92,353, will take the lead on any issues related to student learning, from evaluating assessment procedures to approving requests education tools and equipment.

She also will work to coordinate professional development opportunities for elementary teachers.

Noesges is looking forward to developing relationships with teachers and students in all the elementary schools, recognizing the needs in one building could be different from another, she said.

And she doesn’t anticipate spending all her time behind a desk. She wants the process to be collaborative, adding she expects to spend plenty of time in the classroom observing and helping teachers.

“Unless I’m working with teachers and students in the classroom, I won’t know what their true needs are,” she said.

Robbins said he hopes the new position ensures teachers and students receive the same opportunities, no matter what elementary school they attend.

Noesges, who is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in curriculum and assessment, said she’s excited to begin her new position, though she admits she’ll miss being a principal.

Noesges will be based at the district’s central office, and  though the school year doesn’t start until July 31, she’s already taking steps to learn more about her new position, she said.

Familiar faces, new places

Mt. Vernon elementary school students will be greeted by several new faces in their principals’ offices when they return to school this fall.

Fortville Elementary Principal Heather Noesges has moved to another role in the district and will be replaced by Stacy Muffler, the elementary school’s former assistant principal.

Casey Dodd, former Mt. Vernon Middle School assistant principal, will lead Mt. Comfort Elementary, replacing Heather Whitaker, who resigned from the district at the end of this school year.

Both new principals will earn $82,000 for a 210-day contract.

Double duty

A new position at Mt. Vernon schools aims to better support teachers and staff at the district’s three elementary schools. As the director of elementary education, Heather Noesges has a number of duties. They include:

  • Evaluating student assessment programs
  • Approving teacher requests for instructional tools
  • Monitoring classroom lessons to ensure they meet state standards
  • Overseeing the federal Title 1 grant funding to serve low-income students at Fortville Elementary
  • Leading English as a Second Language programs
  • Coordinating high-ability programming
  • Expanding digital learning efforts

Source: Mt. Vernon Community School Corp.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.