Ambassador sessions teach educators how to share positives

Published on Monday, 13 January 2014 22:29 - Written by EMILY GUEVARA

About 50 Tyler ISD teachers and department heads completed a four-part training session designed to help them better tell the school district’s story.

During the past five months, the participants completed the Ambassador Training Academy sponsored by the organization, Friends of Texas Public Schools.

The professional development program is “designed to change the conversation about Texas public schools from the inside out,” according to a TISD news release about the program.

“This training addresses attitudes and mindsets, helping each member of the profession step up as ambassadors for themselves, their classrooms, campuses, district and profession,” TISD Superintendent Gary Mooring said, according to the news release.

TISD campus principals and administrators completed the first training session in August.

Campus professionals followed with sessions in September, October, November and on Monday.  

Training sessions for the community are scheduled to begin this spring.

Friends of Texas Public Schools founder Leslie Milder, who co-led the training, said the sessions focused on helping educators learn how to better communicate the successes going on at their campus or district to a broader audience.

In addition, they also learned about how they could shift the campus or office culture for good with simple acts.

Some examples given during Monday’s training including giving cards to coworkers and highlighting something positive about them; providing snacks and drinks to teachers as a way of saying thank you; and having fun events like a chili cook-off on campus to promote unity.

Participants had to read the book, “Hard Optimism: How to Succeed in a World Where Positive Wins.”

Stewart Middle School science teacher Kristen Miller said the book served as a reminder of the need to make a conscious decision to keep a positive attitude.

Ginger Pippin, Birdwell Elementary School instructional coach, said the training has provided participants with data to back up the good news about public schools.

For example, she said, people often talk about the “good old days,” but she said more students are graduating from high school today than ever before.

Jack Elementary School third-grade teacher Jennifer Phillips, who has been teaching for 10 years, said the training made her proud.

“I think it’s been a good reminder as to how valuable the profession of teaching is, that public schools are still worthy of … recognition and that we still have many great things happening in public schools,” she said.