The Wilmington Learning Collaborative has hired two directors and completed one element of school assessments needed to begin implementing programs to improve student outcomes.
Laura Burgos, the executive director of the Wilmington Learning Collaborative, shared updates of recent work at the governing council’s monthly meeting Tuesday night.
“I’m very excited to say that all nine of our WLC partner schools completed site visits [this month] and are completing the final data submissions which includes student surveys, family and staff surveys as well as student work products,” said Laura Burgos, the executive director of the collaborative.
Created in November 2022, the Wilmington Learning Collaborative is a state agency, with millions of dollars in funding, aiming to improve the educational and societal outcomes for children in nine city elementary schools across Brandywine, Red Clay and Christina school districts.
“All of this information is going to be analyzed as we think about our teaching and learning systems,” Burgos said. “What are those promising practices that we have to build upon? How can schools learn from each other? What can we scale and then what are those focus areas that we could really zero in on so we can deploy our resources responsibly and appropriately?”
The first set of final individual school reports are expected to be submitted by Feb. 23, followed by the district level reports as well as a Wilmington Learning Collaborative culminating report by late March.
Tuesday, the council voted to hire two new positions to the leadership team: a director of operations and a director of educator pathways.
Director of Operations
LaToya Winkfield was hired for this position, and starts on Jan. 8 with a salary of $125,000.
She reports directly to the executive director, Burgos, and will design and implement an organization infrastructure that supports the executive team in reaching its shared goals.
Winkfield will provide strategic leadership in support of the implementation of the collaborative’s model at each of the nine school sites, as well as managing contractual relationships, providing operational support to the leadership team and school partners, and monitoring the success of WLC as a nonprofit entity.
She is responsible for developing an overall program implementation strategy, including designing key collaboration models and communication cadences. She will also serve as a liaison between the collaborative and district partners, and serves as the groups chief finance manager, discussing budgetary allocations in alignment with the group’s goals.
As the organization’s main fiscal agent, Winkfield will assist Burgos in managing finances by drafting operational and programmatic budgets, forecasts and reports.
Director of Educator Pathways
Carly Highsmith was hired for this job and will start on Jan. 29. She will also have a salary of $125,000.
Highsmith will report to the executive director, Burgos, and will strategically partner with the group’s districts, local universities, workforce development agencies and more to design programs dedicated to increasing the number of local community members entering the teaching profession through the collaborative’s schools.
There has been a ton of discussion in recent years about methods to attract more students into the educator workforce to combat the national shortage of teachers.
Highsmith will identify new profiles for the teachers of tomorrow, while designing and implementing recruitment plans to attract target subgroups to existing teacher education programs.
She will support prospective educators in navigating the path to certification, and access to teacher incentive programs, including scholarship-based funding and Americorps partnerships.
She will also work closely with the collaborative’s schools and teacher education programs to foster positive, results-oriented partnerships that accelerate the number of qualified teachers entering WLC schools, and initiate strategies designed to retain them.
Additionally, she’ll work with talent staff at partner districts to understand and respond to hiring trends, anticipated vacancies and teacher demographic data.
Highsmith is also tasked with leading innovative efforts to strengthen teacher pipelines for WLC schools that are complementary to, not duplicative of, existing district-led efforts.
The group introduced the student representative that will be on the 15-person governing council.
Jaydynn Dzeble, a sophomore at Glasgow High School in Christina School District, is the president of her class and is part of the Superintendent Student Advisory Council.
She will be on the council for the next three years until she graduates.
Although she’s a non-voting member, she’ll be able to offer student perspective as the governing council discusses and implements policies.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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