20 | KNOW • Volume 15 Issue 3
Dr. Melissa Smith
Appointed to Georgia’s
Education Turnaround Advisory Council
Dr. Melissa Smith, a local teacher with the Georgia Association
of Educators, has been appointed to Georgia’s newly created
Education Turnaround Advisory Council (ETAC) by GAE president Dr.
Smith, a 14-year veteran educator, currently teaches 5th grade at
Poplar Road Elementary School. Not only has she been recognized
as the school’s Teacher of the Year, she was also one of five national
finalists for the NEA’s Horace Mann award.
The Education Turnaround Advisory Council was created to work
proactively in building Georgia’s school communities, forming
partnerships, and building capacity within those partnerships. The
ETAC’s focus is student-driven, helping children move into career
and college readiness.
According to Smith, “the ETAC plan works to include community
and local districts in making school improvements. The Council
understands that innovation is almost certain to encounter
challenges when the implementation is defined according to only
one person’s reality. The Council will act to tear down the bridges of
distrust built by years and years of political influence.”
As State education leaders took their first step toward intervening
in Georgia’s lowest-performing schools, GAE secured a seat on the
appointed, 11-member Education Turnaround Advisory Council.
The Council, which includes Dr. Melissa Smith representing GAE’s
seat, will work with the State Board of Education to select a Chief
Turnaround Officer and turnaround coaches. Seven members
are either leaders or appointees of advocacy groups for parents,
teachers, school administrators, and school boards. Four are political
appointees of the Georgia General Assembly leadership.
HB 338 allows stakeholders input in the process of turning schools
around and works in partnership with local communities.
The First Priority Act, signed by Gov. Nathan Deal in April,
establishes the office of a Chief Turnaround Officer, who will target
schools and determine how to intervene. The newly created
Officer position will help school districts devise and implement
improvement plans, acting as both coach and judge, based on the
needs of the community and the schools.
“The ETAC will act to tear down
the bridges of distrust built
by years and years of political
The Education Turnaround Advisory Council will assist in securing
school turnaround resources and experts to develop solutions that
will elevate academic performance.
“Transformation begins with trust from teachers, who can help
maintain integrity and indemnity,” says Smith. “Finding and utilizing
a turnaround officer is an important key in shifting from pointing
fingers to creating cohesion and breaking down barriers that keep
schools form improving.”
The work of Georgia’s Education Turnaround Advisory Council is just
getting started, and through Melissa Smith and GAE, you can be
sure we’ll keep you updated on the Council’s progress.