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New leaders, new energy in PDSD for 2017-18 school year

November 10, 2017

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The Professional Development School District partnership between the UGA College of Education and the Clarke County School District experienced significant leadership changes at both the university and district levels for the 2017-18 school year.

School district changes Superintendent Demond Means The Clarke County Board of Education hired a new superintendent, Demond Means, who started in July and is now a member of the Professional Development School District executive committee. Previously, Means was the superintendent of the Mequon-Thiensville School District in southeast Wisconsin.

“I am excited about the renewed purpose of the PDSD. The work of the PDSD will become more deliberate, research-based and intentional moving forward. The Clarke County School District is seeking to ensure that the PDSD’s work is aligned to our organizational focus on literacy, numeracy and social-emotional growth of all students,” said Means.

“In using the National Association for Professional Development Schools’ nine essentials, we are working to review current practices in place for the UGA-CCSD PDSD partnership. It is our collective vision to make our work more beneficial to pre-service teachers and the students of the Clarke County School District.”

Means has more than 23 years in education, having served as superintendent, assistant superintendent, university adjunct professor, director for human resources, principal, associate principal, assistant principal and social studies teacher.

Monica Gant Also new to the executive committee is Monica Gant, the new associate superintendent for instructional services and school performance. Gant served as the district’s executive director of secondary teaching and learning for two years prior to her promotion to this position.

“As a new member of the PDSD executive committee, I am most excited about our collective commitment to ensuring that our partnership work is aligned to our district areas of focus,” she said. “Through our common vision, we have a tremendous opportunity through the PDSD to build the capacity of our staff to ensure success for our students.”

Superintendent Demond Means Other new school district leaders connected to the Professional Development School District include Carletta Noland, the new executive director of elementary teaching and learning; Michael Harris, the new executive director of secondary teaching and learning; and two new middle school principals: Tomas Ramirez at W.R. Coile Middle School and Makeba Clark at Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School. New professors-in-residence

After teaching a UGA on-site course at Clarke Middle School last spring, Amy Murphy, a clinical assistant professor in the middle grades program, became a professor-in-residence at Clarke Middle School this fall. She brings her interests in culturally responsive classroom management, literacy practices across the content areas, and curriculum design to her work with Clarke Middle teachers. She also supervises practicum students and student teachers from the middle grades program at the school.

“I immediately knew Clarke Middle School was a special place when I first shadowed students in spring 2016 to learn what a day-in-the-life of a CMS student was like,” said Murphy. “As a professor-in-residence, I’m excited to work alongside the school’s passionate faculty to provide equitable and challenging learning opportunities across the curriculum.”

Superintendent Demond Means Also this fall, Sonia Janis, clinical associate professor in the secondary social studies program, began her role as the district-wide professor-in-residence for secondary social studies education. Previously, Janis worked as the professor-in-residence at Cedar Shoals High School for three years. In her new role, she works with social studies teachers at two middle schools and two high schools in the district.

She supports her UGA social studies teacher candidates in classrooms as they lead small group and collaborative projects, such as the Social Studies Fair, with Clarke County students. She also mentors secondary social studies teachers in their role as mentors to her teacher candidates and partners with the school district’s social studies instructional coach, Laura Ambrose, to provide professional learning.