Seven Tam Teachers Apply to Transfer to Drake

By Sarah Asch, James Finn, Marina Furbush, Wanya Williams

Seven current teachers will transfer to Drake High School at the start of the 2015-2016 school year. English teacher LoRayne Ortega, social studies teacher Michael Rawlins, science teachers Erin Ashley and Cody Bartrug, physical education teacher Nate Severin, Spanish teacher Jose Anchordoqui and math teacher Eric Best confirmed that they applied to transfer to Drake to take up teaching positions there in the fall.
Of the seven teachers, three of them say they are transferring because they want access to services provided by New Tech, the professional firm in place at Drake that provides support for the development of project-based learning initiatives. The other four teachers cited different reasons for transferring to Drake that were unrelated to New Tech.

Bartrug said that the possibility of receiving instruction from New Tech Network was a motivating factor in his decision to depart for Drake.
“New Tech drives a lot of [the decision] for me,” Bartrug said. “Specifically, there is a lot of professional development beyond what I have experienced in other areas…New Tech includes a lot of things that other places don’t [cover] including skills like communication, collaboration, and creativity, which are important to me as an educator. I’ve learned a lot from [creating my own projects] but I think the learning process for me has been a lot slower than if I was able to collaborate with others on the same path.”
Assistant Principal Brian Lynch partially attributed the high number of transfers to the unusual number of open positions at Drake.
“People transfer all the time amongst the schools, myself included,” Lynch said. “However, Drake hasn’t had openings of this nature in a while. Drake’s teaching staff is, on average, fairly young, and they have little teacher turnover. Additionally, they have not seen a growth in their student population until this year.”
Bartrug feels that there are many reasons behind the teachers’ decisions to transfer. “For those [teachers] that I’ve talked to, probably half of them are [transferring based on Drake’s contract with] New Tech and probably half of them have professional goals or it’s about being closer to where they live,” Bartrug said. “So I don’t think New Tech is driving all of it, but those teachers that are leaving are doing project-based learning.”
English teacher LoRayne Ortega cited a lack of opportunity to collaborate as a factor in her decision. “[Tam is] not set up with a schedule that allows for teachers to have as much collaboration time as they need…We were basically getting together once a week for an hour which is very hard to do all that we wanted to do. Or not even once a week, one or two times a month,” Ortega said. “We couldn’t support each other enough because we didn’t see each other enough.”
In addition, Drake’s “learning communities” (small, communal “learning groups” that can be likened to Tam’s freshman/sophomore Core groups) is a draw for some teachers.
“Drake has a history of small learning communities. These structures have been in place for decades,” Lynch said. “I think that is a draw to many teachers who want to work collaboratively with different departments in service of students. I think these established structures and teacher teams have contributed to New Tech being sustainable.”
Lynch went on to say that the decision to leave is not collective.“Everyone, as far as I know, is leaving for individual reasons,” Lynch said. “With this happening, though, it makes me reflect as a leader, and think about what conditions I can put in place to ensure quality teachers stay on staff. I think it is important for our staff to ask that question of themselves too.”