Instructional Coaches

Instructional coaches hired to equip teachers
Posted on 07/17/2017

The district’s new instructional coaches have been charged with putting an emphasis on curriculum now that the technology component has almost become second nature to teachers.

Accomplished educators Keri Jameson and Stephanie Kuper will succeed Candace Warren—who accepted the principal position at Poplar Bluff Junior High—and Valerie Ivy, who advanced to Senior High assistant principal.

“It shows where the priorities are here,” Kuper said in reference to the district’s previous instructional technology facilitators moving to administrative posts.

“Our jobs wouldn’t be needed if it wasn’t our district’s desire to work toward change,” added Jameson, who most recently served as one of the district’s first dedicated STEM teachers at the Middle School.

Jameson’s educational career began in 2009 at Neelyville before she moved to the collegiate level, teaching methods of instruction at Central Methodist University via Three Rivers College. Five years ago she was hired at Poplar Bluff Schools, most recently co-teaching science, technology, engineering and math, as well as serving as a building-wide tech mentor.

“I really like the idea of motivating students to want to learn and have ownership in what they want to learn… and how they learn, and helping to foster that,” said Jameson, who is currently working toward her doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis through the University of Missouri at Columbia. She earned her master’s in educational administration from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. 

Since 2013, Kuper has served as an instructional technology specialist at SEMO’s Regional Professional Development Center, providing training for area educators through programs such as Missouri Collaborative Work under the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Her teaching tenure began over a decade ago in secondary education in Malden, before she took a job as a curriculum coach in Hayti.

“Poplar Bluff was 1:1 before it was the bandwagon thing to do, which is about student engagement – the best classroom management tool there is,” said Kuper, who earned her specialist degree in school administration and her master’s in secondary administration, respectively, from William Woods University in Fulton. 

R-I began its digital transformation during the 2013/14 school year, issuing individual MacBook Airs to Junior High students and high schoolers the following year, ensuring equal access to devices. Under the 1:1 initiative—a laptop for each student—the tech facilitator positions were created to help faculty transition to a modern classroom environment more seamlessly. 

Computers continue to evolve in the education sector, according to R-I Chief Technology Officer Aaron Badgley. A year ago carts of Google Chromebooks—currently the top selling device in the education business—were introduced to Middle School classrooms. Now Junior High will transition to the operating system, followed by Senior High. 

“Authentic learning comes down to being able to produce something, which puts kids in a place where they’re responsible for their own education,” Badgley said. “Technology is the vehicle that allows students to create. We want to pick a device that makes the technology just blend into the background so learning can be front and center.” 

In addition to phasing in laptops with less of a learning curve, wireless infrastructure has been upgraded across campus over the past few years, eliminating extraneous obstacles to classroom instruction. Besides technology integration and promoting digital citizenship, the instructional coaches will have a responsibility to emphasize the development of research-based learning strategies and model lesson plans.

“Our instructors are engaged in daily work of implementing a guaranteed and viable curriculum, and oftentimes they don’t have the luxury of seeking out every innovative practice and research,” R-I Superintendent Scott Dill said. “The instructional coaches are basically here to put tools in the toolboxes of our classroom teachers to improve student outcomes.” 

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Cutline: Stephanie Kuper (left) and Keri Jameson prepare to put their instructional expertise to use among faculty in their new positions with the district.

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