Waco ISD has been “hyper-focused on instruction,” in the 18 months she has led the district, says Superintendent Susan Kincannon. Dr. Kincannon is gathering community input on accelerating their existing action plan with ESSER 3 funds by investing in three broad areas: professional learning, intervention teachers and coaches, and social-emotional support.
Dr. Kincannon and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Deena Cornblum explained that ESSER 3 funds will help Waco ISD build on the work already started. This year, the district implemented Data-Driven Instruction (DDI) and Action Coaching, key components of the Texas Instructional Leadership program, at all campuses. Now, they will expand to have at least two intervention teachers at each campus in the district. Additionally, three new positions have been created to add Reading Recovery teacher-leaders, who will be trained through Texas Women’s University. Those teacher-leaders will train interventionists throughout the district to use Reading Recovery’s evidence-based strategies for reading intervention, with a strong focus on first graders, many of whom did not attend Kindergarten this year. “It’s so needed,” remarked Dr. Kincannon, “and it’s proven.” Deena Cornblum added that model literacy classrooms will be established at each elementary and middle school, with additional books and instructional resources. Libraries at every campus will be upgraded through a partnership with the Waco-McClennan County Library system, with students receiving digital e-cards so they can check out books on their district-provided devices. Dr. Kincannon also plans to invest in library resources and training for Waco ISD’s library staff.
Recognizing students’ SEL needs, Dr. Kincannon had planned to add a SEL coordinator position this year, but with the added ESSER funds, they will be able to add a second coordinator and nine more school counselors to support students. Working closely with Ascension Providence Hospital to design a professional development plan, teachers will receive training on student mental health. Teachers will also be trained in behavioral and classroom management strategies, especially to support Tier II and III behavior interventions.
Secondary students will receive additional support from interventionists and from added time to focus on their academic and social-emotional needs.