In direct alignment with IPS Strategic Plan 2015, the new Opportunity Culture model is sure to bring positive rewards to the educators and students of IPS. Inaugural cohort inductee, William Penn School 49 is embracing the strategic staffing and student achievement opportunities, along with the all-around excitement that this innovative model brings to the school!


The Opportunity Culture initiative is an innovative staffing model that rewards successful educators with a significant compensation increase for their expertise. Teachers that specialize in high-priority core learning areas will visit various classrooms to provide instruction, while other team members lead classroom learning for other subject areas.

“When I think about the words Opportunity Culture, the most important and exciting piece is the word opportunity. I’m certain that our teachers would love the additional planning time and receiving that extra layer of support, but what it really comes down to, is the students. There is a lot of opportunity for great things to happen for our kids; increasing student achievement and student outcomes would be a big win for all of us,” says Corye Franklin, Principal of William Penn Elementary School 49.

Math Coach, Megan Polesel anticipates a bright future for the teachers and students of William Penn Elementary School, “The Opportunity Culture model will allow educators the chance to be in a leadership role and receive increased pay. They also can expect a boost in planning time to collaborate with their team – as a result, we hope to retain more teachers.”


As we continue to offer more professional learning opportunities for our teachers we hope to build strong leaders that will inevitably grow strong students. We are steadfast in our efforts to provide an excellent learning environment for every student of IPS. “As a pilot school in the Opportunity Culture cohort, our vision and goal is to increase student achievement and to allow our strong teachers the opportunity to reach more students,” says Polesel.


Multi-Classroom Leaders (MCLs) serve as both teachers and team leaders, and educators leading our largest teams will receive an additional $18,300 stipend on top of their base salary. This means a 16-year veteran teacher could earn $77,000 yearly. A complete breakdown of Opportunity Culture roles in IPS and compensation can be found here.


Support and guidance will be constant throughout this process, but key decisions will remain at the school level. An IPS District Design Team, in collaboration with school-based design teams to tailor the model to fit each school’s individual needs, will guide the entire project. William Penn and the other five selected pilot schools will expect to see the model implemented at the start of the 2016-2017 school year. 


IPS’ implementation of the Opportunity Culture model is patterned after lessons from implementation in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS); and our efforts are picking up national recognition. Recently, IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee joined CMS Superintendent Ann Clark at the annual AASA National Conference on Education to share with district leaders from across the U.S. their insights on addressing issues related to teacher shortages and staff diversity through the implementation of Opportunity Culture.


Ferebee and Clark explained to eager audience members how recruiting and retaining talented teachers and grooming new leaders is accomplished in their respective districts within similar, yet also unique constraints – such as the collective bargaining environment in which IPS functions. IPS is the first district to include the Opportunity Culture model in its collective bargaining agreement.


When asked why he felt IPS was asked to speak on a national platform about our early implementation of Opportunity Culture, Ferebee shared, “This is a great opportunity for Indianapolis and Charlotte to tell our stories about how we are leveraging teacher leadership. As we all struggle with the teacher shortage and teacher compensation, this is a way to rethink how we attract and retain our best teachers and leverage talent to elevate student achievement.”


Ferebee hopes to continue collaborating with other districts and field experts to begin “building stronger teacher career ladders and raise up the profession nationally, ultimately transforming public education.”


CMS is expanding its implementation of the model in collaboration with Public Impact and Educational Resource Strategies; and we’re taking important cues from those efforts. We’re proud of the work Principal Franklin and his team are doing at William Penn School 49; continue to follow us as we feature the progress of the other five pilot schools throughout the school year!


We look forward to hearing directly from our educators and sharing the great news!