When the New Jersey Teacher Advisory Panel PILOT program commences on Monday, March 4 at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Galloway Township will have a presence beyond just the location.
Roland Rogers Elementary School Third Grade Teacher Terry Dougherty will be among 20 teachers from the southern region of the state participating. She will be one of two teachers from Atlantic County in the group, with the other hailing from Egg Harbor Township.
The stated purpose of the program is to “open up two-way communication so that all parties can both gather and disseminate information.” The two parties involved are the New Jersey Department of Education and teachers, an unusual occurrence that Dougherty is excited to be part of.
“This is an opportunity to help teachers improve classroom achievement,” Dougherty said. “I love that they’re going into the classroom and asking teachers. Who knows better than the teachers who work with the kids?”
There will be five sessions over the next five months, and each session will deal with a specific topic, including the Common Core, Evaluation, Teacher Preparation Programs/Special Education, Professional Development and Project RESPECT. Teachers involved will give input during the meetings, and will fill out surveys both before and after the meetings.
Similar groups are meeting in the northern and central regions of the state. Following the regional process, all three groups will meet.
Over 200 teachers applied, and about 60 total from all over the state were selected. Teachers from all counties, grade levels and multiple content areas are represented.
Teachers qualified through a series of essays and resume writing.
“I certainly don’t know everything,” Dougherty said. “There will be a lot of teachers with different experiences, and I can learn a lot from them.”
They’re not the only essays Dougherty has been writing recently, as she was selected the Roland Rogers Teacher of the Year and then the Galloway Township School District Teacher of the Year.
Up next is the Atlantic County Teacher of the Year contest. In all, Dougherty has written eight essays for this process alone. For Dougherty, it was taxing, but rewarding.
“The application process gave me the opportunity to really reflect on my teaching techniques and practices,” Dougherty said.
Dougherty is no stranger to contests. She won the Great American Teach-Off last year, and a and trip to the White House for Christmas that went along with it.
She won that contest based on the work she does with military children whose families are always moving. She and a group of volunteers tutor children at Stockton College over the summer. There were about 60 students in the program last summer, and her program inspired a similar program to sprout in North Carolina. About 10,000 students are enrolled in that program, which started in May.
“I’m really excited about that,” Dougherty said. “Whatever I can do to spread it is good.”
She feels the Common Core being adopted by nearly every state in the country is good for children in military families, who often move from state-to-state.
Common Core will be the topic of discussion for the New Jersey Teacher Advisory Panel on Monday night.
“It’s a rare opportunity,” Dougherty said. “They want us to go back and share the information with the school district. When I see something that could help the district as a whole, I feel that’s something I have to do.”