Instructional coach Jessica Zimmerman helps teachers at Phoenix’s Valley View Leadership Academy increase student engagement, incorporate technology into their classrooms, and think outside the box to support their students. Roosevelt School District partners with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), leveraging the role of instructional coaches to strengthen educator effectiveness and improve student achievement. Zimmerman seeks out district resources, pursues a variety of avenues to enhance her own practice, then shares instructional strategies and professional learning opportunities to her colleagues. She differentiates her coaching to accommodate teachers wherever they are in her career, from beginning to veteran. Zimmerman demonstrates lessons, provides guidance and helps teachers plan lessons. During the pandemic, she met with teachers online to help them with effective strategies for remote instruction. Zimmerman leads professional learning communities for Valley View teachers and the district’s instructional coaches, focusing on curriculum implementation and coaching cycles. One of her key goals: create opportunities for her colleagues to become teacher leaders.
Before stepping into her current coaching role, Zimmerman taught kindergarten, second and third grades, as well as leading Roosevelt School District’s gifted program. She still focuses on gifted students and is committed to providing access and equity to ensure that they receive a high-quality education. Concerned about maintaining gifted students’ access to appropriate instruction during school building closures, Zimmerman quickly developed Zoom lessons and materials for online instruction, then met online with gifted students in large groups, small groups and one-to-one. Zimmerman created and facilitated an online gifted teacher training module that was approved by the district board and positions Roosevelt’s teachers to earn certification for teaching gifted students.
Zimmerman plays a key role in expanding opportunities for all students at Valley View. She is the “trainer of trainers” for The Leader In Me, a program that addresses social-emotional learning, providing mentoring, coaching and professional development to make sure teachers are informed and working toward clearly articulated goals. Zimmerman took charge of the school’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, forming community partnerships to provide a wide range of after-school clubs and activities. Rather than waiting for faculty to volunteer, she proactively interviewed colleagues and suggested activities that aligned with their interests. Under her guidance, Zimmerman grew student participation in 21st Century clubs from 50 to more than 250 students.
Zimmerman is a graduate of Arizona State University. She earned a bachelor’s in communications in 2010 and a master’s in elementary education and teaching in 2013.
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