Like most school systems nationwide, Fulton County Schools, a district of 98,000 students, 105 schools, 7,000 employees, and 7,000 teachers in Metro Atlanta faces an annual challenge attracting and selecting top teaching talent for its classrooms. Over the past five years, Fulton’s GO Fulton Talent Management team (twitter: @GO_Fulton) has developed a comprehensive set of human capital frameworks to meet the needs of the district. Through those efforts, the team has often found that potential solutions to seemingly intractable challenges can be much closer than they originally appear.
As Fulton welcomed students back to school on August 6, the GO Fulton team and program specialist Dr. Marsha Francis also relaunched its GO First STEP student teaching program this year as a new, year-long student teacher internship that will help the district build deeper relationships and connections with top talent earlier in their careers. Each student intern, typically a senior education major, will student teach with the district for a full school year while paired with a high-performing and carefully selected experienced teacher, earn a $3,000 stipend by meeting performance and other academic progress criteria along the way, and would be eligible for an early, prioritized placement in a teaching role the following school year after graduation!
Simply challenging our team to reimagine Fulton’s student teaching strategy with some “outside the box” thinking could ultimately address 20 to 25 percent of the district’s teacher vacancies each year with talented, mission-driven teachers already familiar with our students, schools, and communities. We’ll also be building sustainable talent pipelines into many of our “harder to staff” schools. How we intentionally curate an impactful and engaging student teaching experience with GO First STEP could be a huge ‘win-win’ for all involved: the student intern, our students and schools, our Higher-Ed partners, and our Talent team. We’re excited to get off to a solid start and learn along the way, while continuing to reflect and revise our approach as we identify #FultonsFutureTeachers.
“GO” represents Fulton’s branded talent management strategy to provide the ‘Growth’ and ‘Opportunity’ talented educators desire in their careers, leading to stronger teams, increased retention of top performers, and sustained student achievement. Follow the GO Fulton team at @GO_Fulton and the GO First STEP student teacher internship program at @GO_1stStep.
Arthur Mills IV (twitter: @amills4) is the executive director of Talent Management and Organizational Strategy for Fulton County Schools