Two longtime department heads at Riverside-Brookfield High School are leaving their positions as the leaders of their academic departments at the end of this school year.
John Beasley, who has led the Social Sciences Department for 13 years, and Doug Schultz, who has led the math department at RBHS for 10 years, will no longer be instructional coaches for their departments.
The two men, who are considered curriculum leaders at the school, will remain as teachers at RBHS.
“I do genuinely love this place,” Beasley said. “I’m very happy as a teacher here and being able to make the difference I can make in the classroom.”
Their departure as instructional coaches follow the resignations of Brennan Denny last year as the instructional coach of the Science Department and the departure of Sarah Johnson as instructional coach of the English Department two years ago.
In 2013, RBHS changed the position of department chair to instructional coach, because District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis and others did not believe it was good practice to have union members evaluating other union members.
Instructional coaches, unlike department chairs, do not evaluate teachers and play a much more limited role in hiring new teachers.
“It is not an evaluative role anymore,” Beasley said. “It’s not the same job.”
Now administrators like Principal Kristin Smetana and Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction Kylie Gregor along with other administrators handle teacher evaluations.
Department chairs had the major voice in hiring new teachers for their departments while the role of instructional coaches in hiring is mostly limited to the screening of resumes.
There has been quite a lot of turnover among instructional coaches at RBHS since the position was established, but Beasley and Shultz have been mainstays as department heads.
Beasley and Schultz did not want to go into much detail about their reasons for leaving their positions, but the change in the duties of the job was one major factor.
“I’m probably am not real comfortable in explaining exactly why,” Beasley said. “I would just say that I did love the job and I loved what we were able to accomplish. And I loved having the opportunity to not just recommend the hiring of people, but also to encourage AP expansion.”
Schultz said that the change in the duties of the position was one factor in his decision.
“The majority of the reason is the change in the position,” Schultz said.
One former instructional coach who asked not to be identified said the role of instructional coach is largely clerical.
Smetana said that Beasley and Schultz did not resign from their positions. Rather, Smetana said that the new teacher contract agreed to last fall included new language regarding instructional coaches. All instructional coaches had to reapply for their positions next year. Beasley and Schultz simply did not reapply.
Instructional coaches receive a $6,000 annual stipend and teach only four classes instead of the regular load of five classes a day. They handle a lot of administrative work related to supplies and course scheduling, and they are supposed to observe teachers in their department at least once a quarter. They are supposed to help teachers in their department in a mentoring and collegial role.
“Instructional coaches provide content-specific collegial coaching and guidance to improve curriculum and instruction, as well as progress monitor student performance data,” Smetana said in an email.
The departure of Beasley and Schultz as leaders of their departments, along with others leaving the position, could also be a sign of a widening gulf between the administration and teachers, especially veteran teachers.
Beasley pointed to increases in Advanced Placement courses offered and an improvement in the passing rate on AP Exams as among the improvements in the Social Sciences Department that he is most proud of under this leadership.
Schultz pointed to an expansion of the AP math program, creating a math faculty fairly evenly balanced between men and women (with three female AP teachers in the department), the alignment of the regular level math curriculum to the Common Core, and dual credit opportunities with both Triton College and Loyola University as the accomplishments he is most proud of.