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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 9:37 pm

Ritz names 3 area educators to new panel

Niki Kelly | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz on Thursday appointed a super­sized Blue Ribbon Commission on the Recruitment and Retention of Excellent Educators.

The 49-member group com­prises educators, key stakeholders and legislators throughout Indiana. It will develop strategies to help recruit and retain excellent educators throughout the state.

Indiana has seen a significant decline in the number of individuals receiving initial teacher licenses issued in recent years. Specifically, there has been an 18 percent drop in the number of initial teacher li­censes issued over the past five years. And schools of education have reported declining enrollments in recent years.

Three locals were appointed to the commission: Charles Cammack Jr. and Ginger Giessler of Fort Wayne Community Schools and Melanie Park of Huntington County Community Schools. Park was named Indiana Teacher of the Year in 2012.

Giessler – who teaches at New Tech Academy – won a $25,000 Milken Educator Award in 2013.

"We want to talk about how we can change attitudes toward the profession of teaching – because there has been a shift – and how we can bring that back to the positive," she said.

Giessler is in her 11th year of teaching. She said many people think the media focuses too much on negative or sensational education stories instead of the good things occurring. She also said the push for testing and accountability and lack of creativity and freedom in the classroom are hurting the profession.

"I hope it brings about change and it’s not just another committee," Giessler said.

Dr. Maryann Santos de Barona, dean of Purdue’s College of Education, will co-chair the commission with Ritz.

"I am excited to announce the members of this important Commission," Ritz said in a statement.

"As a life-long educator, I know the importance of having excellent teachers in our classrooms and the effect they have on our students. I also know that administrators throughout Indiana have been having a harder time finding and retaining the teachers they need in their schools," she said.

"That is why I will be using the work of this commission to shape the legislative agenda for the Department of Education for the upcoming legislative session."

The Indiana Department of Education has been researching the recruitment and retention of excellent educators in Indiana since early 2015, according to a news release. The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders and Great Lakes Comprehensive Center will guide the Blue Ribbon Teacher Commission members in digging deeper into this data and developing solutions to help recruit and retain excellent educators.

The commission will meet Sept. 11 in Indianapolis.