ROCKDALE COUNTY, GA– The Rockdale County Board of Education (BOE) was recently recognized by the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) for the fifth consecutive year with the Leading Edge Award, which highlights school districts that are leading the way in ensuring students are competitive in an ever-changing global market.
The Rockdale County BOE was recognized for its innovative personnel solutions to the teacher shortage during the Georgia School Boards Association / Georgia School Superintendents Association Annual Conference, held Nov. 30 – Dec. 1, 2023. The innovative solutions include collaborating with Clayton State University to offer paid internships, the RCPS Early Career Teacher Support Initiative, and partnering with Intalage and Elevate K-12 for hard-to-fill positions.
BOE Chairwoman Pam Brown praised Superintendent Terry Oatts and school administrators for their efforts to continually improve the Rockdale school district.
“We are thrilled to be recognized for the fifth consecutive year with the GSBA Leading Edge Award,” said Brown. “Dr. Oatts and his team have focused on teacher recruitment and retention to ensure our students have qualified teaching professionals in every classroom. Our innovative personnel solutions are helping us combat the teacher shortage which is affecting school systems across the nation.”
Superintendent Oatts said: “We must continue to think outside the box to fill positions most affected by the teaching shortage. Our goal each year is to have all teaching positions filled before the first day of school. As educators, we must also encourage our graduates to choose to enter the teaching profession or the shortage will continue. At the Rockdale Career Academy, we give our students the opportunity to enroll in our early childhood education pathway and get a glimpse of what a teaching career is all about. Providing mentors and support to young teachers is also critical to their success and desire to remain in the teaching profession. I appreciate our Board for their support of these creative ideas to fill gaps and take a proactive approach to fill our staffing needs.”
The nomination for the GSBA Leading Edge Award highlighted these innovative solutions to address the teaching shortage. The collaboration with Clayton State University (CSU) is a unique paid teacher internship which affords the college intern credit for field placement while giving RCPS additional staff and creating a teacher pipeline for the district to recruit, train, and retain these interns as teachers upon completing the program. The RCPS Early Career Teacher Support Initiative directly impacts teacher retention by targeting teachers completing their first five years of teaching. This includes both induction-level teachers and early career teachers and complements the RCPS Teacher Induction Program. The Board of Education approved the use of Intalage to supply teachers for hard-to-fill teaching positions. Intalage provides international alliances in education, giving RCPS another innovative solution to the teaching shortage. The fourth innovative solution described is the use of virtual teachers through Elevate K-12. This is the second year using Elevate K-12 for several classes throughout the district including geometry, algebra, physics, chemistry, earth science, middle school math, and Spanish enrichment at the elementary level. These classes consist of a teacher who is live on-screen from a remote location and a coach who attends in-person with the students every day.
The Rockdale County BOE has also been named a GSBA Exemplary Board, the highest status in the GSBA Board Recognition Program, in 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2016, and 2015. The GSBA Board Recognition Program was paused during 2017 and revised to require an even higher level of commitment from school boards and individual members.