Empowering Effective Teachers Op-ed

Dr. Jennifer O'Flannery Anderson, Ph.D.
October 7, 2010

One of United Way of Broward County’s major focus areas is education; supporting organizations providing educational opportunities for children pre-school through high school.  Recognizing the need for progressive approach to reducing high school dropout rates, United Way launched three initiatives, ‘Empowering Effective Teachers’, ‘Family Engagement for High School Success’, and ‘Sunland Park’.  The idea is to convene key partners focusing on the complimentary goal of reducing the dropout rate, and increasing student achievement and growth.

There are several things United Way has learned through extensive research.  First, powerful learning occurs in environments that foster effective teachers.  Second, teacher effectiveness is one of the most significant determinants of a students’ academic success.  Third, parental engagement provides critical support in helping children achieve and reinforces a child’s learning at school.

Empowering Effective Teachers is developing both an advocacy agenda and mobilizing strategies for policies ensuring children have an effective teacher in every classroom.  The Initiative focuses on measuring, training and retaining highly effective teachers and is funded by United Way Worldwide (UWW) through a national grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  United Way is convening groups to ask how systems and policies can be reformed, impacting effective teaching while ensuring our children graduate college and career ready.   

Family Engagement for High School Success developed a plan supporting families of students at risk of academic failure.  Elements of the plan include alternative means for parental involvement and communication, resources to support parents, and Student Advocates for at risk students and their parents.  The program works with Broward Schools’ administrators, faculty, parents and at-risk students in targeted Broward high schools with high dropout rates. This UWW grant was funded by ATT&T and is part of a Harvard Study.

The Sunland Park neighborhood is located just east of I-95 off Sunrise Boulevard.  While the neighborhood has many strengths, the academic achievement at its neighborhood elementary school has been traditionally low.  United Way has launched an exciting multi-year initiative with The School Board of Broward County to strengthen the academic success of children and families attending Sunland Park Elementary School.  The initiative also includes feeder child care centers, parents and others taking care of young children at home.  Our goal is to dramatically improve these young students’ early academic success. 

Children are our future and their educational achievement and growth directly impacts the success, health and well being of our entire community.  Broward County’s economic future depends on their success.  For more information on how you can support United Way’s Educational initiatives, please contact United Way of Broward County at 954-462-4850 or visit www.unitedwaybroward.org.

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