Meet the Teacher Excellence Program's Leadership and Instructional Coaches

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. In addition to developing and facilitating observation and research-based professional development, their primary work is to coach, mentor, model for and provide technical support and assistance to classroom Teachers designed to increase their classroom practices.

Porter-Leath's Teacher Excellence Program also has a specialized focus on social-emotional training for early childhood educators. In order to perform at their best, early childhood educators must understand young children's ability to regulate their emotions and to relate to the world. Children's social environment can affect their classroom behavior and academic performance long after preschool, so it is critical that all educators are able to model responsible emotional management, decision making and relationship skills.

TaWanda Payton, M.Ed.,IMH-E®

Instructional Coach Supervisor

TaWanda Payton has been with Porter-Leath for four years and currently serves as an Early Head Start Instructional Coach. Prior to becoming a coach, Ms. Payton worked with child development in various settings, including teaching children birth to school-aged, and as a childcare coordinator, nursery director, family support worker and Childcare Resource and Referral Specialist.

She is passionate about serving Shelby County children and their families. One way she shares her passion is by partnering with teachers to enhance their teaching practices and to provide high-quality early childhood professional development opportunities. Ms. Payton is a LENA Grow Certified Coach and Affiliated CLASS for Toddlers trainer. She holds a designation in CLASS for Infants and an endorsement in Infant Mental Health.

The Dr. Seuss classic, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” is one of Ms. Payton’s favorite children’s books because it addresses life’s ups and downs, while encouraging readers to find success that lies within. A favorite line of the story says, “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”