The Perry Community School District recently became affiliated with the Iowa Department of Education “Teacher Leadership and Compensation” program. The TLC program allows staff members to grow in their additional roles as leaders in the school district.

According to the TLC website, last March, schools across Iowa were approved to create a teacher leadership program. PCSD Superintendent Lynn Ubben said the program was split into thirds across the state, and Perry was the last section to implement the program.

“There’s something to be said to go in right away, but we have a different population, and we wanted to make sure we were doing this right,” Ubben said.

PCSD’s TLC program is being led by Teacher Leadership and Mentor Coordinator, Shannon Cline.

The TLC program consists of Instructional Coaches including Wendy Bollhoefer, Laura Coller, Brenda Mintun, Nathan Horgen, and Jennifer Nicholson. Both Cline and the instructional coaches all work outside of the classroom and focus on the TLC program in the PCSD.

Following the coaches, there are also potential positions within the district that including fifteen roles as Mentors. All fifteen mentors are also full-time classroom teachers.

“This gives a lot of teachers the chance to be leaders,” Ubben said.

In previous years, teachers did not hold leadership positions, but rather, were placed in leadership-based groups.

In order to become a mentor, a teacher must have at least three years of experience. Once they’re approved, they’re able to assist teachers in any subject.

An additional $2,000 accompanies the mentor’s salary once they are certified in the PCSD.

“They are participating in a class that I am leading and that’s been going on since August,” Cline said. “We are training them in research-based ways to be highly effective mentors.”

Cline says the program has been very well received.

“The mentors have felt like they are making a difference, the teachers participating as mentees have loved being able to work with other teachers in the district,” Cline said.

The TLC program allows teachers who either are new to the community or have worked in the PSCD for less than three years to develop a mentorship within the district. Cline says it encourages teachers to come forward with a goal they want to focus on and later receive support from a fellow teacher.

“The past five years, new teachers did not have professional learning because it was not directed to meet their needs,” Cline said. “Now that we are designing it in Perry and it is Perry teachers, it’s meeting their needs much more effectively.”

Ubben said the biggest initiative is to put people where they need to be.

“It’s just the first year so at the end of the year we’ll tweak it,” Ubben said. “Eventually in the end, you just want to improve instruction for all.”