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Interview with Delia Stafford, President of the Haberman Foundation

Nov 15, 2004 by


Monday, November 15, 2004

By Jimmy Kilpatrick, Editor

The Haberman Educational Foundation, Inc. a not-for-profit 501C3 based in Houston, TX.  Our goal is to not only envision but help implement a complete paradigm switch in how teachers and principals are identified and educated, particularly those educators who serve students at risk and in poverty.

Tell us something about the Haberman Educational Foundation, Inc.

Delia Stafford

We limit our activities to those which will further our mission: “selecting the best teachers and principals for the children and youth of America”.Martin Haberman

We conduct training for site based teams which may included superintendents, principals, teachers, and parents to select teacher and principal candidates for positions in schools who will empower students in poverty and at risk.

The training consist of  a well-researched scenario-based interview technique that “gets beneath the skin” of a candidate to take a kind of x-ray of their motives, goals, and beliefs about teaching and leadership in schools.  This “x-ray” picture helps school leaders find teachers and principals whose primary goal is not to earn a paycheck or get the summer off, but to empower students, motivate them, and help them finish school.  School districts currently using the interviews find their students’ scores go up and their teacher turnover goes down. The Foundation also provides on-line pre-screener test for both teachers and principals.

The interviews are based on the Kappa Delta Pi all-time best seller, Star Teachers of Children in Poverty   and Star Principals: Serving Children in Poverty by Martin Haberman, Distinguished Professor at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.  Spring Branch ISD (TX), Dallas Independent School District, Round Rock, Texas. Philadelphia, Darlington, South Carolina, Long Beach Unified School District, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Denver, Region VII Education Service Center, Kilgore, and 180 cities across America, have found that the education communities support use of the interviews because both instruments identify teachers and  principals who really want to be with the children they are serving. The latest publication from Martin Haberman  will be available in 2005 and can be ordered from The Haberman Educational Foundation   Inc.  This book details the best practices and ideology of star teachers.

What about building paths to certification. 

As states search for a better professionalizing way to certify teachers, they should search to  find a balance between the large numbers of teachers they need and the relatively few available who are credentialed.  Among those credentialed and ready to enter the classrooms of urban and at-risk children, few are diverse, bilingual, or prepared to teach those who are learning different.  We believe learning to teach requires first, the right beliefs and attitudes and second, a totally realistic hands-on approach to certification.  The certification routes we have built provide a realistic, hands-on experience with a seasoned, paid mentor and result in a group of credentialed, often mid-career switchers, a larger number of whom are diverse, bilingual, and service-oriented.

This particular area of work at  the Foundation is based on the decades of experience I encountered by  building a state-of-the art alternative teacher certification program in Houston, TX. The program was  recognized in 1992 by then President George Bush at The White House and at the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1992 at Northern Virginia Community College. Most  recently, I was instrumental in assisting in the development of an alternative certification program in Texas at College of the Mainland, and Galveston College, which includes the  school districts of Galveston, Texas City, LaMarque and Hitchcock. The administrators of those participating districts received a  free training in the Star Teacher Selection Interview.

Dr. Vicky Dill ,Senior Researcher at the Foundation and national trainer for the Haberman Foundation worked for The State Department of Education in Austin, TX, building alternative teacher certification programs and monitoring their success. She also authored the chapter on Alternative Certification for the Handbook of Research on Teacher Education published by Mc Millan (1997).  Alternative Certification  has been widely praised by communities and parents wanting demographically representative, grassroots individuals to teach and stay with their children. Her latest publication from Phi Delta Kappa,” A Peaceable School” speaks of the star teacher behaviors so prominent in Habermans’ research which merge into the beliefs of  great teachers so needed in Americas’ schools.

  What about supporting already certified teachers to understand and better teach children in poverty.

Using a series of videotapes based on Star Teachers of Children in Poverty , developed at The University of Dayton, Ohio and marketed by The Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), Foundation leaders travel from district to district supporting the efforts of site based teams to improve their instruction for at-risk youth.

What were your reasons for initiating a public engagement effort?

The Haberman Educational Foundation, Inc. staff and its’ Advisory Board of nationally recognized educational leaders  together believed that, for the 15 million children and youth in this nation in poverty, having good teachers is a high-stakes endeavor, possibly the only chance many children will have for a shot at the American dream.  For this reason, teachers have to be good and something fundamental was done to implement  Dr. Martin Haberman’s years of research in this area. The Haberman Foundation was chartered in 1994 to promote his research, and is home based in Houston ,Texas.

What audiences are you trying to reach? What is it that you want them to do?

Our audience is site based parent, teacher, and administrator teams.  We want them to learn how to interview candidates to work in schools so they can select the ones who really want to be there and have beliefs that will empower poor, diverse, and at-risk learners.  If they cannot find enough individuals who are, in fact, there to make a difference in young lives, we help them build alternative routes to certification to find more grassroots local individuals who want to teach from their own neighborhoods.  In this effort, we have battled up hill such established and entrenched bureaucracies as the Department of Education in Washington, DC., the NCATE accrediting body, state departments which think” a piece of paper indicating course work ” indicates a teacher who wants to be with poor youth as well as traditionalist  in teacher education who have been less than helpful.  We want our success  to impact schools on a broader scale nationwide because it’s working and we know it is needed. President Clinton basically indorsed the Alternate routes to certifiy teachers and 46 states agree that it is needed. However, few states and State Departments of Education have taken the time to help school districts articulate and define the process into a workable practice. Many have to reinvent rather than ask for expert advice on developing programs.

What evidence (whether anecdotal or analytical) do you have that these efforts have made a difference?

We are totally convinced that what we are doing is good for children.  We are not finding jobs for individuals who have credentials, but finding teachers for the neediest of children–not filling “slots” with individuals with transcripts, but providing children individuals who won’t give up until they’ve made a difference.  One example, in Spring Branch ISD (TX), one school where the principal and all the teachers were selected using our interviews.  An article regarding the Spring Branch Elementary School is on the HEF website with other articles and research. http://www.habermanfoundation.org . Users of the interviews in Dallas ISD, Hillsborough County, Tampa, Pomona Unified District, Long Beach Unified, Philadelphia Public Schools, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Region VII, Hazelwood School District, MO, along with many others are available for contact upon request from the Foundation .

What tools or assistance would be most helpful to you at this point of your work?

We could additional funding to disseminate and continue our successes.  We would welcome corporate assets and contributions to build our organization, place summaries of our success and advertise in Educational Leadership   and Phi Delta Kappa, add needed office staff. At present, we urgently need resources to train individuals to work with the full-time resource personnel.

Another important resource from the corporate world  would be to provide funding for school districts to be trained  in the interview processes. These funds would allow the Foundation to provide free services to school districts who may not have available resources  to hire consultants to teach the interview process.

Name :             Ms. Delia Stafford                    Dr. Vicky Dill
Title:                 President                                  Senior Researcher

Organization: The Haberman Educational Foundation Inc., and The National Center for Alternative Teacher Certification Information     http://www.habermanfoundation.org .                      

Address :          4018 Martinshire
Houston, TX 77025

Phone :             713-667-6185
Fax :                 713-667-6185
E-mail:              Stafford: d.staff@ix.netcom.com            Dill:      vsdill@hotmail.com

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