I had the chance to work with the Superintendent (called “Director of Schools” in TN) and a group of educators and community members in Cookeville, TN this week as they worked to design a strategic compensation system for their school district. First, this is a group absolutely going about this “the right” way in that they have a broad and representative work-group made up of lots of teachers, administrators, parents, and community members. They are just starting to think about how they might change their compensation system to better pay the dedicated teachers in their community more.

For me, it’s been really fun to listen to them dream about what their community schools might be if they built in some quality teacher evaluation systems to establish common expectations for great teaching, and also their excitement about a strong school-centered professional development system that could support teachers and make it a much more collaborative effort.

Besides the inherent fun that just comes with doing this kind of innovative work, the most inspiring thing was getting to listen to every person on that group (from community members up to the Superintendent) talk with what I can only describe as genuine and honest love for their schools, their community, and each other. With all the distractions and cynicism of this age, I can only begin to express what a recharge it is to one’s soul to hear this kind of emotion and caring for schools and the people who work in them.

If we can somehow harness and capture the energy, spirit, and direction of this group in Cookeville, TN – something very positive is going to happen for the district’s 11,000 kids.

I can hardly wait to see what happens next.

Jason Glass
Columbus, OH