Metamorphosis Teaching Learning Communities, Inc.

[email protected]
New York, NY
March 28, 2005
To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is sent in support of Susan Radley, one of the most effective educators and dedicated professionals I have had the honor to work with. I have worked with Susan in several capacities over the past 20 years: as a fellow teacher at PS 87, a colleague in designing professional initiatives and as an employer in my position as Deputy Superintendent for Region 9 in New York City.

Ms. Radley has been having a positive impact on the lives of students and teachers since she began her teaching career at PS 87, in New York City, as a second grade teacher. PS 87, at that time was among the City’s ten best schools, and Susan was among the school’s ten best teachers. In her second year of teaching, she and I won an Impact 2 award from the Board of Education for an “integrated curriculum,” What’s in the Shell. This award winning curriculum, back in 1984, was already employing many of the “best practices” in literacy education the Department of Education is presently working to implement systemically. Namely, Susan had her students reading both primary sources and trade books; had children reading and writing in the content areas (in this case Science); incorporated independent, small group and whole group instruction; read alouds, shared reading and independent reading and writing were part of her everyday routines. She was a pioneer in what is now called the “workshop model.”

Over the past fifteen years, Susan has been guiding teachers nationwide, as they strive to improve their practice. First as a consultant in the renowned, Writing Project, she worked with Shelley Harwayne, Lucy Calkins, and a cast of cutting edge professionals to design and implement across New York City the various genre studies and techniques that have now become the trademark of that project. She went on to form her own company to help spread this important work across the country, when she married and moved to Houston, Texas. She was in such high demand, that she began training a small cadre of local teachers to become “coaches” for the Houston Public Schools. This effort to identify and support a group of coaches from within the system is crucial in developing a self-sustaining model of professional development and a guiding principle in Susan’s work. She is a leader of leaders. As a matter, of fact, when I was Deputy Superintendent of Region 9, I hired Susan to introduce the literacy coaches to Content-Focused Coachng and to hone their developing skills. As always, the feedback from the participants was extremely positive.

In her new role, Susan found herself working with district level administrators and principals as she helped them strategically design customized literacy initiatives. In order to learn and grow herself, she joined the prestigious, Institute for Learning, and began to combine the practice of Content-Focused Coaching into her already effective model of working with teachers. Again, this innovative and synergistic approach distinguishes Ms. Radley’s work—she is brilliant at identifying and adapting effective approaches from the field and incorporating them into the initiatives she designs.

Though Susan found herself working in various school districts across the country, being a true and loyal New Yorker, she never stopped devoting a substantial portion of her time to New York City. In the late 1990’s, she found herself working as the Director of the elemenary literacy initiative for District 15. She is one of the few consultants I know who can envision; develop; implement and sustain a mult-level, strategic, long-term professional development initiative that results in improved instruction and higher student achievement from “outside” the system and on a “part-time” basis. She has accomplished this in New York City’s District 85, St. Paul, Houston and Kansas City. I had the pleasure to collaborate with Susan in St. Paul where we worked together with the District Level staff and coaches across disciplines to bring coherence and fusion to their professional development agenda.

Another unique contribution Ms. Radley has made to the professional community is the development and implementation of Collaboration Sites in literacy. She modeled this practice after the design I created in District 2, when I was Director of Mathematics. Susan recognized an effective model, and adapted it to the work she was doing for both District 2 and District 15. She is now building professional “collaboration sites” around the country, including Region 10, in New York City. This is a model that combines some of the principles of Japanese Lesson Study with some of the research based professional development practices, such as an iterative process that includes collaborative lesson planning, observation and reflection on lessons taught.

Susan now has a cadre of highly qualified, hand selected, professionals working for her company, Accelarated Literacy Learning. Together they combine their considerable talent and expertise to focus on bringing to the teaching and learning of literacy all of the best practices and cutting edge, research based, techiques that have been proven to accelerate student achievement and foster a love of learning.

Without hesitation and with great enthusiasm I highlly recommend Susan Radley and her company, Accelerated Literacy Learning.

Sincerely,
Lucy West
President