Deputy Secretary on the Road to Success Bus Tour

Jeanne A. Curley

“I know you’re all going to have a wonderful day of learning.” Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten said as she finished the morning announcements at Idlewild Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina, helping ED kick off the Road to Success Back to School Bus Tour.

The schedule for Monday was packed; four stops in one day!

First Stop: Idlewild Elementary

Walking through the halls of Idlewild Elementary, the teachers and students greeted us with the excited ‘Good Mornings’ and the energy that comes with the start of a new school year. Idlewild Elementary is creatively using American Rescue Plan Funds to build their Multi-tiered System of Supports Program (MTSS). MTSS is a classroom framework that provides individualized, small group, and universal supports to students while keeping them in the classroom. This work involves an MTSS facilitator who works directly with the students. In each classroom we visited, there was whole-class instruction but also small-group instruction with a facilitator for individualized support.

Second Stop: Quail Hollow Middle School

At Quail Hollow, Deputy Secretary Marten visited several classrooms where students were using Chromebooks, teachers played classical music, and again, MTSS practices were at play. She spoke with Quail Hollow Principal, Rachael Neill, about teacher support. Despite staffing challenges, Principal Neill expressed dedication to ensuring the school’s teachers feel supported and valued. She stressed the importance of listening to their needs and creating a sense of community. All of us at ED couldn’t agree more!

Third Stop: Renaissance West STEAM Academy

One classroom at Renaissance West STEAM Academy was a bilingual learning classroom. As we walked and lined the back of the room, the teacher waved to us and then looked back at the workbook in front of her to see which number question they were on. Looking back up, she says to her students in a comforting voice, “Numero dos, en ingles.” The students began to read the 2nd question on the worksheet all as one, in English. As they finished, she looked at them with a smile and said, “Very good. Numero tres, en espanol.” This time she read it out loud to them in Spanish as they followed along. This teacher was teaching both Spanish and a STEM lesson at the same time. Incredible!

Last Stop:  Allenbrook Elementary School hosted by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper

The Governor opened the visit with the importance of education and telling us how his mom had been a teacher. He explained that he understood the importance of classroom teachers and the work they do, and his commitment to education and bettering the schools in his state. He then introduced the principal. She concluded her remarks by telling the room that she believes the next presidents, governors, and teachers are in these classrooms—so we must invest in their success.

Deputy Secretary Marten reflected on how apparent it was that the community understood the importance of using American Rescue Plan funds to not only help with pandemic recovery, but to close the achievement gaps.

Among teachers, school boards, the Governor and Mayor, there is an eagerness to ensure schools have the tools and resources to serve students well. At each stop, we saw firsthand how school communities are charting a path on the road to success.

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