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By Felicia Krieg
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and New York State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia at a special campus visit Oct. 14 highlighted the North Country Thrive program and promoted the TeachNY initiative, an effort to bolster teacher education programs and provide support to aspiring, new and veteran educators.
“This is a movement,” Zimpher said, addressing educators and community partners from the Angell College Center. “Lifting up the profession of teaching has to be everyone’s job.”
Zimpher and Elia held roundtable discussions with area educators and stakeholders in the College Center to talk about how to find exceptional teacher candidates, how to prepare teachers most effectively and how professional support can be provided to educators.
“We are here to listen,” Elia said, to suggestions, concerns and recommendations local educators and their partners have.
Part of the solution is also increasing teacher morale, she said.
“We’ve worked really hard in the state to shift that,” Elia said.
While the concept of identifying weaknesses in the education system and allocating funding strategically to repair them is fairly simple, Zimpher said, execution is more challenging and requires the help of business and community leaders along with teachers and education administrators.
Success will be based on evidence-based interventions and looking at the full continuum, she said.
“Lifting up the profession of teaching has to be everyone’s job."
“All we need is a small, dedicated team that will keep the leadership council together, that will drive the data, that will give opportunity to everyone to intervene, to move the dial and seal the leaks,” Zimpher said at a separate meeting with North Country Thrive members. “Please come to this table. You are so valuable to the cause and we need you.”
North Country Thrive is an educational support partnership in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties as well as the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation that has been working to unify area stakeholders in working toward the common goal of improved education since 2011.
SUNY Plattsburgh is the backbone for the North Country Thrive partnership and a supportive partner working toward improving outcomes across the education pipeline, said Brittany Trybendis, director of North Country Thrive. The organization is a partnership aimed at improving education outcomes through local data review, she said.
North Country Thrive has six outcomes: kindergarten readiness, early grade reading, middle school math, high school graduation, post-secondary enrollment and post-secondary completion.
“It’s a framework of how to support change in a community towards what works in improving outcomes,” Trybendis said.
SUNY Plattsburgh offers a range of teacher education programs, including:
Dr. Michael Morgan, dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services, said the chancellor and commissioner support a comprehensive view of education and teacher preparation.
“The chancellor helps pull everybody together around the table to understand we have a common goal,” he said. “We can do well by working together, sometimes in new ways, to help guide us toward a future that is better for students, for people who want to be teachers and for our communities.
A facet of that is ensuring the new generation of teachers represent the diverse populations of student they’re teaching, Morgan said.
Teacher shortages are becoming increasingly problematic, and that trend is expected to continue over the coming years, Morgan said, but SUNY Plattsburgh is poised to give students the skills they need to be successful in their profession.
North Country Thrive will support SUNY Plattsburgh and all other area districts in this mission, too.
“By working together, we can start to do some systemic changes and align funding toward what works,” Trybendis said. “Using outcome measures we can identify what’s having the most impact and what’s not.”
Local schools are already seeing some of the impacts of the North Country Thrive partnership. Because of the partnership among local districts coupled with efforts by Thrive partners, 18 school districts are now using the same kindergarten assessments, she said.
To learn more about academic programs at SUNY Plattsburgh, you can browse our directory of academic departments and programs or contact: