Fredrica NashDecember 2011High-caliber coaching isn't just for top athletes. Teachers and principals need it too. Having another set of eyes and ears in the classroom can be the key to transforming teaching and learning in schools affiliated with North Carolina New Schools.For Fredrica Nash, coaching principals and teachers to improve their game helps ensure that students can expect the same approaches to reading, writing, thinking and talking in every class, every day. In her role, Nash helps educators become more effective in applying NC New Schools' Common Instructional Framework, which encompasses approaches to teaching and learning designed to get students to think, question and communicate. Nash works with four schools in NC New Schools' network of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) schools, including three from a network of health and life sciences schools and one from a network focusing on the theme of energy and sustainability."I like being able to support teachers and principals in their instructional goals as a resource that helps them move students from where they are to where they need to be," says Nash. "Being able to collect data for a teacher that can transform their practice or have students graduate truly ready is the best part of my job."Nash meets with teachers and principals to set their goals for the year, then they work together to identify resources and strategies to help meet those goals. By establishing open communication, she and the faculty members are able to discuss challenges and brainstorm solutions throughout the year."For a new teacher, we can create structures so that they can be innovative in their classes to make instruction meaningful for students," Nash says. "For veteran teachers, this coaching can help change their way of thinking."As a STEM coach, Nash works specifically with teachers and principals to look at the engineering design process to help students develop a way of thinking about their work beyond simply providing the right answer. Preparing students to have the skills and perseverance to be career- and college-ready involves supporting leadership at every level of the school -- from principals to teachers to the students themselves.Sofi Frankowski, a senior program director with NC New Schools, works with the STEM instructional coaches. "Fredrica is an extraordinary listener who thoughtfully provides targeted feedback based on what the teacher has already identified as an area of need or concern. With her strong background in project-based learning, she's able to help teachers develop meaningful and rigorous projects that engage kids in the engineering design process."Nash begins by watching a class and noting what students and doing and how they're interacting. She presents that information to the teacher for reflection and discussion about how to get students more engaged and how to push them to new levels. Providing supports like co-planning and co-teaching allows Nash to model strategies for teachers and principals to ensure that lessons are meaningful and effective. Then, when teachers are ready to use these practices on their own, they still have Nash as a resource for making adjustments and improvements."The coaching models that NC New Schools employs are very friendly and effective," says Nash. "We are able to be in the schools and communicate in a safe, non-evaluative environment, which makes a huge difference from the way coaching has been viewed in the past."A native of Charlotte, Nash attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a North Carolina Teaching Fellows Scholarship and an academic Bobby Phil's Scholarship for excelling in academics and athletics in high school.She holds a bachelor's degree in biology and a master of arts in teaching and was a member of the National Biological Honor Society. As a science teacher at Durham's Hillside New Tech High School, Nash served as science department chairwoman and as a member of the Durham Superintendent's Board of High School Reform. While at Hillside, she was honored as the Initially Licensed Teacher of Year and the Teacher of the Year awards.An N.C. State University Kenan Fellow alumna and winner of the American Physiology Society Frontiers in Education Teacher Fellowship, Nash has presented at several professional conferences, including the New Tech Network, NC Project Based Learning Conference, the NC Science Teachers Association, and NC New Schools' Summer Institute.