Position: Vice Principal/Special Education Director
School: Troy Junior and Senior High School
School District: Troy Public Schools
City, State: Troy, Montana
About the Nominee: Christina Schertel was nominated by her principal and superintendent, Jacob Francom.
Troy School District has a significant number of students who receive special education or Title services. The Special Education Director, Christina Schertel, plays a pivotal role in the district with many different responsibilities. Through Ms. Schertel’s outstanding leadership, the district has transformed from a system that was in disarray to one that is on solid ground and moving in a positive direction.
When Ms. Schertel started as the Special Education Director, the department was in need of systemic organization. In a short time, she has organized and made the special education services in the district effective for each and every special needs student. Through her efforts, most identified students are receiving support and making progress in the regular education program. Ms. Schertel has organized and streamlined the data gathering and testing that is regularly done on each student. Student files are in order and individual education plans are set up in accordance with state and federal law. Parents are regularly involved throughout the planning, implementation and modification of any services which are provided to special needs and Title students. They are often in the school and classroom discussing the progress of their child. They trust Ms. Schertel in working with their children and often express their appreciation for her leadership and hard work.
One of Ms. Schertel’s biggest long-term projects is the implementation of testing to track student progress. When she started at Troy, there was little data used to track and identify students. Now, there are several pieces of data throughout the district that are regularly used by special education teachers and administration to track students’ progress, such as Istation's Indicators of Progress (ISIP), Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR), ACT, positive referrals, discipline, etc. Because the data is organized in a useful manner, it has become a reference point when speaking about individual students and overall school and district improvement initiatives. Furthermore, this data is used to ensure that student needs are met in a flexible, sensitive and responsive manner.
Ms. Schertel’s impact in the district has been extraordinary, and her accomplishments have improved services for all Troy students. Her influence has helped the district accomplish the following:
-Troy High School's graduation rate is at an all-time high of over 94%.
-Improved reading and mathematics scores.
-Improved speech services for students who need easy access to a speech therapist, as well as adding a component to the program that allows students to continue their speech practice at home on a web-based program.
-Improved School to Work program for special education students to help them acquire skills while working in various locations and businesses in the community.
-A more formalized intervention program at the high school has been implemented, with many teachers involved and regular communication happening between teachers, therapists, counselors and administration. This program also includes a morning Advisory component at the start of the day for each student.
Aside from her duties as special education director, Ms. Schertel is also active in various other roles, including Troy Youth Soccer Program Coordinator, PTA member, Student Council volunteer and teacher-mentor for three new high school English teachers. She touches many lives in across the district!