Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - 14

CREATING A CLIMATE HOSPITABLE TO EDUCATION

"game-changers" for their students. As
a result, the new programs proposed
or embraced by teachers include a
kindergarten dual-language immersion
program, a newcomer program for students who don't yet speak English, and
an arts integration program.
"The way you build capacity is to go
out on a limb and take risks," he says.
"Failure is OK, but don't stop with failure."
Two of Millspaugh's biggest academic
concerns are similar to those at Chillum:
the level of rigor and English-language
learners' need for more academic language. "We want to prepare our students
to be college- and career-ready," he
says. "Proficiency on the state assessment is not our ceiling; it is our floor."
A district-level analysis of academic
trends revealed that, for students such
as those at Cool Spring, second grade
is a particularly important step on the
ladder to long-range academic success. Millspaugh and his team looked
at their own data and realized that
the first-grade teachers needed more
support to get their students ready for
second grade, and that second-grade
teachers needed to know more about
third-grade expectations.

Giving Teachers What
They Need
For Cool Spring, the solution was to
encourage teachers in those three
grades to share challenges and strategies with one another, and to provide
them with whatever resources and professional development they needed.
Laura Corley-McKan, who has taught
for 20 years (including four at Cool
Spring), appreciates the support. She
says teachers have had opportunities

14

"We want all our principals to have a love
of learning, and we want them to develop
a school culture that is inclusive and-for
students, their families, and staff-feels like
they are all part of a family."
-Monique Davis, deputy superintendent, Prince George's
County Public Schools, Upper Marlboro, MD
to learn how to do guided reading
with greater fidelity, and that they have
plenty of books and other resources.
She was on jury duty for five weeks, so
Millspaugh arranged for a qualified longterm substitute to fill in, and the other
second-grade teachers also helped out.
When she returned, Corley-McKan was
pleased to see that her students had
continued to make progress.
Millspaugh has helped teachers gain
confidence and be optimistic. "We may
or may not be there yet, but you have to
have the attitude that you can do it, even
though it's hard," Corley-McKan says.
Staci Sendgikoski, another secondgrade teacher at Cool Spring, is only in her
second year in the classroom. Even before
she started, other teachers came to ask
her how they could help. Within a few
weeks, Millspaugh "popped in to ask me
how I was, and what he could do for me."
Early on, Sendgikoski realized she
needed to know more about her students, most of whom are immigrants.
She mentioned that to Millspaugh,
and the first week of school he offered
her a useful learning opportunity that
helped her understand immigration,
adjust her instruction, and communicate with parents.

PRINCIPAL * Special Supplement - May/June 2018

One of Millspaugh's goals at Cool
Spring is to create what he calls "a
coaching mindset in the building." He
and other members of the instructional
team work one-on-one for a whole
week with teachers who ask for
help or who, in the team's judgment,
need the extra assistance. He also
provides teachers with chances to
lead, encouraging them to conduct
professional development sessions and
share their knowledge.
Millspaugh taught high school-level
mathematics at a middle school for 13
years before becoming an assistant principal, so he welcomes the opportunity
to help Cool Spring's elementary-age
students develop their math skills.
However, Millspaugh also recognizes
that he knows relatively little about literacy instruction. So, in the collaborative
spirit he has cultivated, he turns to his
teachers for help.
"I'm willing to admit when I don't know
something," he says. "I'll go into a classroom with teachers and have them point
out what I need to know." *
Richard Lee Colvin is an education
journalist and policy analyst based in the
Washington, D.C., area.



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Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - Cover1
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