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Memphis Talent Advisory Council collaborates to make city “Teacher Town USA”

About 20 school leaders from Shelby County Schools, the Innovation Zone and Achievement School District are partnering to recruit, retain and support teachers in Memphis.

Chalkbeat TN recently sat down for an interview with Sara Solar, who is the portfolio director for the Memphis Talent Advisory Council. The council meets on a monthly basis, mostly to strategize how to recruit teachers to work in the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in the state.

Solar shared the three priorities of the school leaders as they move toward their goal of making Memphis “Teacher Town USA.”

Question: What priorities are education leaders serving on the council approaching first?

Solar: The council members are discussing ideas about how to retain great, quality teachers and develop our local teachers; whether that means access to meaningful professional development so they can develop more skills over time or helping teachers develop real skills that help in closing achievement gaps. In developing local talent, it could mean looking at how colleges are preparing teachers. Some programs are more effective than others.

Question: How will the council measure the success of its work?

Solar: The work all ties back to the whether its affecting or impacting the three objectives in a positive way. Ideally, we’re all focused on moving priority schools move from the bottom 5 percent to the top 25 percent.

Question: What are some ideas the council members are floating around to retain good teachers?

Solar: It benefits everyone to have more effective teachers. For great teachers, who want to stay in the classroom, we have to create teacher leader pathways. A teacher leader would have the opportunity to lead fellow teachers without leaving the classroom. When a new teacher is recruited to Memphis, it’s important that there is support to help them connect with the city. We also need to generate more partnerships within the area to do the work we’re trying to do.

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