Teacher’s ‘experience to lead change’

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Are you almost ready?” I asked PHS English teacher Rebecca Burnett as our final teacher workday ended before the students’ first day.

“You haven’t heard?” Burnett asked.

I’d been off the grid—avoiding the magnetism of media and the deluge of back-to-school email to complete the physical work of setting up my classroom so I could only respond with a questioning look.

“Earlier, I had a call from NMSI, the national office,” Burnett said. “Someone backed out of leading training next week. They want me in Mission, Texas on Sunday! If I go, I will have to miss time with our students. I am so torn!”

PHS teacher Rebecca Burnett spent a few days in Texas leading training which pushes academic excellence to new levels. (Contributed)

Burnett’s devotion was admirable; however, my experience with A+ College Ready assures me that Burnett leading NMSI training has the potential to serve many more students next week in a way that the students in our high school classrooms could only dream of.

NMSI, which stands for National Math and Science Initiative, seems far from an English teacher’s realm. This nonprofit foundation provides teacher training to raise schools toward a national standard of academic excellence. Extending beyond math and science to encompass language classes as well, NMSI created Laying the Foundation (LTF) which provides training for pre-AP teachers in core academic disciplines.

“NMSI provides teachers with training, resources and support providing materials developed by educators and accessible for use beginning with third grade,” Burnett said. “Alabama has adopted NMSI/LTF and designed teacher training and lessons through A+ College Ready.”

Alabama is the first state to be authorized to lead its own program. The A+ Education Partnership grew out of the 1990-91 class of Leadership Alabama’s conversations pertaining to improving Alabama’s quality of education.

How fitting that improving education would emerge from a diverse Leadership Alabama class with the perspective and experience to lead change! Burnett served in Texas and returned to serve her students on Friday.  Pelham’s teachers and students will benefit from her training and leading as she shares the value of connecting the beginnings of education to the high school years helping Pelham’s teachers foster our students’ successful pathways.