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Teacher Excellence Program

The Teacher Excellence program uses intentionally designed and data-informed professional development to prepare teachers to engage in high-quality, effective practices, thereby strengthening the knowledge and skill sets of early childhood educators, resulting in improved education outcomes for children.

The Teacher Excellence Program's vision is to professionalize the work of early childhood education by strengthening the knowledge and classroom practices, thus enhancing the skillset, of early childhood education teachers throughout the Greater Shelby County area, and eventually the Mid-South, via intentionally designed and data-informed professional development. Its mission intends to increase teachers’ experiences and strengthen their skillset and classroom practices resulting in a reduction of the “achievement gap” for children in low socio-economic environments, helping place them on a trajectory for success in school and in life.


Leading and supporting the work of the Teacher Excellence Program are the Instructional Coaches and Relief Teachers. 

The Instructional Coaches are required to have a Masters’ degree, a minimum of six years of experience as early childhood education classroom Teachers and possess early childhood education content expertise with the ability to teach adult learners. Through workshops, one-on-one mentoring and observation, Instructional Coaches provide the professional development necessary for early childhood educators to improve their skills and to translate their training into the classroom. Learn more about the Teacher Excellence Program Instructional Coaches.

As an extension of the Instructional Coaches’ work, the Relief Teachers provide in-classroom support to teachers to assist in imparting high-quality knowledge and skill to young children through research-based and developmentally appropriate practices. When classroom Teachers are attending a training facilitated by Instructional Coaches, a Relief Teacher covers their classroom as a Teacher, not a substitute, to ensure seamless operation in the classroom that serves in the best interest of the children and the co-teacher in the classroom. Relief Teachers are required to have a minimum of two years of experience as early childhood education classroom Teachers and formalized education/certification in the field of early childhood education.

key components of Porter-Leath's Teacher Excellence Program curriculum: 
High-Quality Teaching Practices

The intentional and thoughtful design of interactive, ongoing professional development that will allow teachers to possess effective, high quality teaching practices as they impart knowledge and skill to children.

Data-Informed Practices

The monitoring of teaching practices and reviewing assessment data to track and directly inform child outcomes as well as ongoing and future program quality. Evaluation and data will provide the program with hard evidence to demonstrate the impact of high-quality early learning experiences for young children in high-quality early care and education programs.

Reflective Practice

In partnership with their Instructional Coach, teachers will improve how they teach and interact with young children, allowing teachers to increase their confidence and become more proactive and effective early childhood education practitioners/professionals.

Continuous Quality Improvement

With the understanding that complacency is unacceptable and that there is no finish line as our work is a journey, the Instructional Coaches, teaching staff and the Teacher Excellence Program will embrace the mantra we espouse for children by adopting “a lifelong love of learning.” By focusing on our “process” rather than any specific individual, we will recognize both the internal and external purposes for our work that will promote the need to be objective as we analyze and improve our processes.

  • Highly skilled and knowledgeable teachers with an appreciation for continuous quality improvement of their teaching practices through rigorous and intentionally designed professional development. 
  • Children who enter Kindergarten on grade and school ready who have developed a lifelong love of learning.
  • A reduction in the “achievement gap” for children from low socio-economic environments.
  • An appreciation for the return on investment that will benefit our community for generations to come.
  • An increased appreciation for the power of community organization and involvement with deeply invested and collaborative partners.

Dr. Kelley Corbin,
VP of Early Childhood Services
Shirley Floyd
Marilyn Donaldson,
Teacher Excellence
Program Manager
Porter-Leath's Teacher Excellence Program is a proud partner of:

Council for Professional Recognition

University of Notre Dame - Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities

Sesame Street in Communities