Teacher leaders chosen for Portland's Reiche School

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PORTLAND — A kindergarten teacher and a special education teacher will step into the two teacher-leader roles that will replace administrative leadership at Reiche Elementary School.

Special education instructor Christine Keegan and kindergarten and current teacher-leader Kevin Brewster were chosen from the five applicants by a panel of parents and school staff. They will work part time as teachers and part time as administrators.

“Kevin was an obvious choice because he’s been doing it for the last half a year, and has done a really good job,” Superintendent James C. Morse Sr. said. “And Christine has strong organizational skills. They were really trying to find the best partner for Kevin and thought she complimented him well.”

The school is the first in the country to transition from a traditional administratively led school into a teacher-led school, where committees of teachers will make decisions and two teacher leaders will run the day-to-day operations of the school.

Interim Principal Paul Yarnevich is leaving the school district.

The two teacher-leaders will share the job, one covering administrative tasks in the morning, the other in the afternoon. Morse said it will be up to the teachers which one will handle which time of day and if they will alternate.

Lori Bobinsky, a data literary specialist at the school, who has been working on developing the teacher-led model, will be handling the summer administrative duties.

Morse said he is not sure yet whether new teachers will be hired to fill the half of the day the teacher-leaders will not be teaching, or whether teachers will be hired from within the district to fill those roles. Brewster already has a half-time teacher partner for his kindergarten class.

In early April, 74 percent of teachers and staff at the school voted to adopt the teacher-led school model. While support from the teachers for the new model was an overwhelming 82 percent, support from ed techs was just over half, at 57 percent, and other staff voted 70 percent in favor.

The School Board approved the proposal in May.

In mid-June, 45 parents and teachers got together to discuss the future of the school, and many parents expressed concerns about communication between the new teacher-leaders and parents.

Over the summer and in the early fall, teachers will form four committees: Internal Communications and Climate, Instructional Leadership, Professional Development and External Communications and Enrichment.

The chairman of each committee will also meet regularly as a member of the leadership team, with the two teacher-leaders, a central office representative and a parent.

Morse said he suspected the teachers to set up a two-to-three-year rotation for teacher leaders, so new leadership will continually be engaged in the administration of the school.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.