Principals look for help in executive directors

Posted at 6:53 AM, Aug 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-07 07:53:16-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - As teachers gear up for their lessons and students think about seeing their friends from over the summer, a small group gathers inside the TAC building to strategize about principals within Omaha Public Schools.


They’re known as the Executive Directors of School Support, thinking of themselves as being "thought partners" and coaches.


"Basically, our job is to support principals,” Dr. Dwayne Chism says, who’s assigned to elementary schools.


It’s not our jobs to do the work for the principal, he says.


The executive director, like the entire team, knows the job well since he used to be a principal for several years at local schools.


We help them with kind of going through what they're thinking and talk about possible outcomes and options, Chism says.


Principal David Milan of Bancroft Elementary says he likes the idea of having Chism as a coach.


"It's nice just to have a sounding board – a person to talk to and say, 'This is what I was thinking of doing. Is there another resource available?’”


It’s nice to not have to explain the background to someone unfamiliar with the role and its challenges, he says, we can dive right in instead.


“In many cases, he'll just take something and run with it and go, ' OK, I've already got that solved for you,” Milan says.


Meeting regularly, the pair focuses on coaching teachers especially with feedback on lesson planning and classroom issues.


Three years ago, Superintendent Mark Evans introduced this concept after having 90-plus principals report to him. Recently, the support group grew from four to six and now each person roughly has 16 principals assigned to them.


The job requires the executive directors to spend 50 percent of their time in the schools.


Chism says the group does look at scores from Nebraska State Accountability Tests, but believes information without understanding doesn’t go far enough.


“Our job is to help build their capacity whether it'd be going in the classroom and getting really good at looking at instruction, assessing what's happening in the room,” Chism says. “Or, [it] could be celebrating their successes.”