New leadership team at St. Louis College Prep provides support for students, teachers, and parents
As St. Louis College Prep continues to grow, a new leadership team has been put into place to provide the school’s scholars and staff additional support as the school advances into the future.
This year, the school’s former Dean of Students, Lauren Fleischer, is serving as principal with new Dean of Students Terrell Borum and Director of Curriculum and Instruction (DCI) Erin Ellinger filling out the rest of the school’s instructional leadership team.
“Last year we just had a principal and a Dean of Students and we saw that our teachers needed more feedback and coaching so this year we added the DCI piece,” said Fleischer. “We wanted to make sure that we had someone solely focused on instruction and someone solely focused on discipline and the school’s culture. Then I, as principal, am able to manage the two sides of it together.
The new team, who affectionately call themselves Team LTE (pronounced light), said they were very excited to be a part of St. Louis College Prep.
“Our staff is phenomenal,” said Fleischer. “We are really just support for them. They are the ones who are really leading the charge for this year and for our academic focus. We are excited to be able to really focus on strong feedback and timely coaching so they can continue to improve and feel supported.”
Team LTE also brings a wealth of experience and passion to the school.
“This is something I always wanted to do,” said Fleicsher, who has been involved in education since joining Teach for America in 2007. “I worked at a charter school teaching seventh grade math, and that developed into being an instructional coach which developed into leadership roles.
“I got excited about being an administrator,” she added, noting that she had been watching St. Louis College Prep grow for a number of years and jumped at the chance to join its administration when the Dean of Students position opened up over a year ago. “I came here and I was in love with it. I loved the immediate results you saw with the students, the chance to form and grow relationships with them, and the ability to teach the understanding of why rules and policies and expectations exist with students and how that looks in the future. It just got me really excited to see that other side of education versus just teaching in the classroom.”
Borum followed a similar path to administration – first achieving his first dream of becoming a social worker in schools before discovering he wanted to have a larger role in making more permanent changes.
“I was one of the kids that was bussed out to a better performing school since first grade,” he explained. “I wanted to examine the systems that created disparities in education between different communities and neighborhoods. I wanted to help empower students and provide resources and structures that they needed in order to have a really quality education that prepares them not only for college but also for a more well-rounded experience as an adult.”
After spending several years trying to achieve those goals in public schools, Borum said he saw the need to do more.
“I wanted to work on providing structures and building systems outside of what is traditionally considered a school social worker’s role,” he said, noting that that pursuit brought him to St. Louis College Prep in late May. “A lot of scholars and parents think the Dean of Students is all about discipline structures, but it is really built around creating a positive school culture and making sure the school culture is driven by our core values.
“Right now our main focus in the building is that no matter what neighborhood our scholars come from, no matter what types of families they come from – when they get on our bus or step into our building they feel a real sense of community,” Borum added. “We already have a good sense of what it takes to build that community within our walls, but we are also working with a number of community organizations, partnering with them to help our scholars and their families with things like behavior needs.
“We have also done a lot more this year to build relationships with parents,” he said. “Once a week there is time set aside to have positive parent phone calls so that they don’t just hear from us when things are not going so well, but they also hear really positive things from us as well.”
While Borum is providing more engaged support for scholars and families, Ellinger is working to make sure the school’s instructional staff can focus as much of their energy as possible on teaching in the classroom.
“Our teachers, in the past, have had to really be in charge of every aspect of instruction from planning, implementing, and giving each other feedback, to testing and assessments,” Ellinger, another Teach for America alum, said. “I am working on trying to take a lot of that behind the scenes stuff off of their plate. Now they can just focus on planning what is in their classroom and implementing it, then getting feedback from myself and coaches and moving forward that way.”
Ellinger spent nine years as an art instructor, department chair and academic dean at a charter school on Chicago’s south side before moving to the St. Louis to be closer to family and bring her curriculum and instruction expertise to St. Louis College Prep.
“The staff here had taken on a lot and now they can give some of that back to the leadership and it will be really invigorating for the staff,” she said, noting that her new position will also help the school focus on academic growth as it adds two new grade levels over the next two years.
“We are making sure our teachers have more time to plan together so we can have a more comprehensive look at things like what math should look like from sixth through twelfth grade,” she said. “The teachers can now put all the pieces together to make sure that all the bases are covered for our scholars before they leave our doors in in twelfth grade.”
Fleischer said the new team was also key to the school’s mission to provide its high quality education opportunities to the entire city.
“We no longer just focus on one area of the city,” she said. “We are focused on all of St. Louis. We want all areas to have importance in our school. And we want our focus here in the school to be an understanding that academics are incredibly important, but it is also important that you understand that you need to be a good scholar and good citizen and there is a life out there for all of us.”