Letter From Jamie Woodson: Leadership Is A Lever To Lift Students To Greater Academic Heights

Dear Friends,

“We rise by lifting others” – Robert G. Ingersoll

Educators devote their professional lives to lifting others, and strong leadership is crucial to providing the support necessary for accomplishing great things for students. As SCORE prepared the report, Excellence For All: How Tennessee Can Lift Our Students To Best In The Nation, we heard from Tennesseans across the state that one priority had to be focused on developing school leaders who are ready to lead learning and people.

Last month’s SCORE Institute explored how Tennessee can prepare, place, support, and retain strong principals as a lever to increasing student achievement. Attendees learned from national best practices and considered next steps to improve the school leadership pipeline in Tennessee.

In conjunction with the SCORE Institute, SCORE released Why Principals Matter: Exploring The Research On School Leadership, a research brief that identifies four key findings about developing strong school leaders from national and state-level research. Tennessee has growth opportunities, especially when it comes to ensuring that principal preparation programs are preparing candidates to make meaningful improvements in student achievement and building a principal pipeline that reflects the racial and ethnic demographics of our students.

When principals devote time and attention to instruction, teachers teach better and students achieve more. Because this is so connected to efforts to improve student achievement in Tennessee, the SCORE Policy and Research team is deeply studying possible policies and practices to prepare recommendations for our state later this year.

Strong school leaders also encourage talented teacher-leaders in their school. SCORE recently announced the 2018-19 cohort of the Tennessee Educator Fellowship. This cohort is comprised of 38 teacher-leaders representing 24 Tennessee districts and all three grand divisions of our state. For the last five years, the fellowship has helped motivated and passionate teachers to become advocates both inside and outside the classroom for education policies and practices that can improve student achievement.

Strong principals and teacher-leaders are essential for lifting Tennessee students to the top in the nation in student achievement. I look forward to continued work that will highlight the opportunities that can best ensure all schools across Tennessee have strong leaders ready to improve teaching and learning.

Very truly yours,

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Jamie Woodson

Jamie Woodson sets the strategic vision for SCORE as Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and leads SCORE’s executive team and the organization’s efforts to build and strengthen partnerships with leaders in Tennessee and across the nation. She has been a leading figure in spearheading Tennessee’s efforts to better prepare students for postsecondary education and the workforce. Prior to joining SCORE, she served for more than 12 years in the Tennessee General Assembly in both the House and Senate. As Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and later as Senate Speaker Pro Tempore, Jamie was a key leader in efforts to identify and support effective teaching, overhaul Tennessee’s K-12 education funding formula, raise academic standards for Tennessee students, turn around low-performing schools, and expand high-quality public charter schools in Tennessee. In addition, she was a key leader in Tennessee’s work to transform public higher education by aligning Tennessee’s postsecondary system and the state’s economic goals through changes in academic, fiscal, and administrative policies. Jamie attended public schools in Tennessee and received a Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She was selected as “Torchbearer,” which is the highest honor an undergraduate may receive from the university.

The SCORE Sheet is the online conversation on public education reform in Tennessee and is hosted by SCORE. The blog mirrors SCORE’s collaborative nature and features contributors from Tennessee and across the country including students, parents, teachers, policymakers, community groups, and members of SCORE’s team. Regardless of perspective, contributors share a common goal: that every child graduates from high school prepared for college or the workforce.

Posts on The SCORE Sheet are the opinions of the individual contributors and are not necessarily reflective of the opinions and positions of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).