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Memphis principal highlighted in new school leadership resource

Two national leadership development groups held up a Memphis principal’s work on teacher mentoring as a model in a series of videos on school leadership.

The videos were part of a multimedia report called “Great principals: Developing every teacher.” It was released earlier this month by New Leaders, a national school leadership development organization with an arm in Memphis, and education nonprofit America Achieves.

Tisha Durrah, the principal at Oakhaven High School, part of Shelby County Schools, is featured in a video on data-driven instruction and teacher mentoring.

“New teachers are often intimidated or don’t feel comfortable coming to the principal with concerns or some areas they’re struggling in,” Durrah says in the video. “Mentors provide a safe sounding board for the proteges, and new teachers need that.”

The report also highlights learning labs at Merrill Middle School in Denver, where teachers observe one another teaching lessons and provide feedback, and a teacher evaluation process at a charter school that’s part of the YES Prep network that involves school leaders regularly visiting classrooms.

“We believe it is critical to showcase what works in our most improving schools so we can support educators who are raising the bar in education and help them learn from and replicate success,” said New Leaders co-founder Ben Fenton in an email.

New Leaders has a strong presence in Memphis and Shelby County Schools: Eighty principals in Memphis are connected to the organization through its Emerging Leaders Program, its Aspiring Principals Program, or its Principal Institute. Last year, 8 of the 22 schools in Memphis dubbed “Reward Schools” – which means they were in the top 5 percent in the state in growth of student test scores – were led by New Leaders principals.

Here’s the video featuring Durrah:

New Leaders also has a series of policy recommendations focused on principals. The organization recommends, for instance, that principals be able to choose the staff in their schools and have the autonomy to decide what professional development is necessary for their staff.

You can view the rest of the videos here. Here are a series of case studies on principal leadership, also from America Achieves and New Leaders.

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