Julie Cook was ready to leave teaching. She’d worked in both urban and suburban districts and in three different states. No matter where she taught, she ended up frustrated with the lack of autonomy given to, and professionalism expected from, teachers.
Top-down policies dictated what she taught, on what timeline, and how her students were assessed. Supervisors didn’t understand why she wanted to create curriculum. And her colleagues treated teaching like a by-the-hour job, rather than a profession.
“They clocked in and out, presented information, and left the rest up to the powers that be,” she says.
In 2002, just as she’d finally decided to leave the field, Cook was offered a position at Souderton Charter School Collaborative, a teacher-powered school in Souderton, Pennsylvania.
“Teachers at our school have full or partial autonomy over our professional development, budget, curriculum, assessments, teacher evaluations, school policies, scheduling, and hiring,” she explains. “I was invited to create, decide, collaborate, and lead. I no longer felt crushed.”
She’s been teaching there ever since.
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