Virginia Rhodes, EdD has over 35 years experience in Urban School District Policy, School Development, Administration and Teaching. Dr. Rhodes' specialties include persistently failing city schools, new school start-ups, intentional school design
District and individual school strategy for equity
Replacing factory model district & school structures with highly engaging models
Replacing punitive discipline with developmental systems
*STEM start-ups and environmental school design
Innovative teacher hiring, and teacher-led school models, including in districts with collective bargaining
Replacing toxic district or school culture with human-friendly models
Effective school security and safety--beyond electronics to the human side
Collaborating with community grassroots organizing partners
Background - Dr. Rhodes has provided consulting services to an international firm on certain aspects of U.S. public school practices prior to their exploration of a related market sector. She acted as a consultant to the University of Cincinnati Career Center assisting in the development of pre-service teacher hiring expectations. Dr. Rhodes was retained by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to co-investigate a study for mental health and achievement factors related to excessive student mobility.
As a consultant on AdvancedEd School Accreditation Teams, she has evaluated high school performance. Dr. Rhodes has researched and written numerous articles on school mobility, achievement, culture, and STEM (NSF). She has conducted numerous training workshops and spoken on urban school district policy and other related topics to various community groups and national educational organizations.
What does it take to improve science performance in an inner-city high school? Could a science "immersion" strategy change motivation and interest in science? How can we meet a key strategic goal of our urban district: "All students graduate and are prepared for postsecondary education, successful careers and productive citizenship."
Creative professionals in team-based work settings value work communications skills among their colleagues. As public schools create professional learning communities and experiment with teacher-led curriculum and program development, traditional interview processes may prove inadequate for these new collaborative environments. New and creative selection models may be needed to enable teacher or other professional teams to choose candidates with the 21st century skills needed for success. In public sector environments, work rules are often highly developed and professionals are entitled to interview. Qualifications, training, experience and seniority as determinants often get reduced to transfer rights using seniority as the main or only criteria. This trend detracts from creating a competitive environment in which to attract & retain a high-quality teaching staff. Solutions can be found within existing contract parameters, however, if the attributes necessary to teach 21st Century skills are actually required to be demonstrated, not just described, in the interview process.
Critical to a dynamic STEM school is a high level of instructional rigor. While this is true in all STEM schools, it is a particular challenge in those programs that serve populations inexperienced with high levels of rigor in their previous coursework.
Establishing a STEM High School (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics), and the Aiken Environmental, Ohio's first public environmental high school proved to be successful strategies to increase student engagement and raise standardized scores in science. High-poverty urban students from declining academic and disciplinary environments produced significant gains on science test results and credit attainment towards graduation. Using multiple overlapping rigor and SEL strategies, students experienced "science immersion," project-based learning, and a social-emotional curriculum that emphasized personal development and team/community-building skills.