Champions of Change: School Turnaround Leaders

Uploaded by whitehouse on 22.08.2012

Kyle Lierman: Welcome to the White House.
My name is Kyle Lierman.
I run the Champions of Change program out of the White House
Office of Public Engagement.
Really excited to have all of you here today.
So first the important part and the thing you all are here for.
Let's welcome our Champions of Change.
All right.
So just a couple of logistical notes.
You guys can take your seats.
For those of you who are on Facebook or Twitter, feel free
to tweet about this, to Facebook about this,
to send pictures to friends.
We're using the hashtag WHChamps.
So Jon Carson who's the Director Of Public Engagement is actually
not here today.
But I know he's tweeting about Champions of Change from L.A.
But today, to get us started off and to kick off the day, we have
a really special guest, Roberto Rodriquez who is the Special
Assistant to the President for Education Policy.
Roberto Rodriquez: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the White House.
It's a pleasure to welcome you here this afternoon and
to celebrate today's School Turnaround Champions of Change.
As Kyle mentioned, my name is Roberto Rodriquez.
I serve the President as his special assistant for education
here on the Domestic Policy Council.
So we coordinate and integrate his education priorities across
the government.
And it's a real honor to share the stage today with some of the
real champions here who have been driving change and really
helping to build an America that's built to last in the
communities across our country.
You know, early in his administration, the President
committed us to ensure that every child has access to a
complete and competitive education from the days that
they're born to the day that they begin a career.
And that agenda reaches from early childhood education, from
that development in education in the early years, all the way
through a child's life through adult education.
And the President's made this a priority because he really
believes we need to do much more than just recover from this
recession that we've been in.
We need to really create an America that's built to last.
We need an American economy that restores economic security for
the middle-class where hard work and responsibility is rewarded
and where everyone who wants a good job can find one.
And the President's plan for his education agenda acknowledges
the shared challenges that we have as Americans to really
realize that vision, that grand contest that we face globally
which is a contest to win the future and to make sure that
each and every one of our young people has the opportunity to
really thrive and succeed in the global marketplace.
At the end of the day, this is a contest that we must win for our
nation's future and for the future of our children.
It's a contest that we must win in order to really build
a new economy.
And the centerpiece at the heart of that contest is the work that
each and every one of you are doing to really deliver
a world-class education to each and every one of
our young people.
We believe that winning that contest really requires that we
foster a Race to the Top across our education system and across
our schools, a race that will raise expectations for students,
for teachers, for our schools, for or leaders.
We know we need to undertake urgent efforts to keep America's
teachers in our classrooms.
Just this past week, the White House released a report showing
that this economic recession has had a particularly challenging
impact on the education sector.
We've lost over 300,000 teacher and other educator jobs over the
past several years.
So we know we need urgent resources to support keeping our
teachers in our classrooms while also making sure that we're
ushering in the right reforms to strengthen the teaching
profession, to improve the effectiveness of instruction,
to boost student engagement and learning in our classrooms.
And while we must take on this ambitious work of closing the
achievement gap and turning around our low-performing
schools, we also know we need to do more to provide the
flexibility that our teachers need and that our principals
need to develop the new and innovative policies and
practices, those creative practices and those strategies
that are needed to be able to really teach with passion,
ultimately to drive better outcomes for all of our students
and make sure that they're prepared to graduate ready
for success.
So we've made significant progress across our
administration on a whole host of reforms.
I don't want to take too much time to run through
all of those today.
I've talked a little bit about Race to the Top.
We're doing more to really make sure that we're also fixing the
No Child Left Behind Act so that it's working better for schools
and for teachers and principals and, ultimately, for students.
We've offered flexibility to develop and implement better
ways for our states and school districts to really be able to
provide our kids the curriculum and the support they need to be
able to be successful.
And we've granted flexibility through our ESEA waiver process
already to over 33 states.
We've launched a new Investing in Innovation Fund where we're
trying to develop the next generation of strategies and
solutions that will help close the achievement gap and help
really engage our learning, our children in their learning, and
in their success.
And we've launched new initiatives, new efforts
like Promise Neighborhoods which provides a holistic
comprehensive whole child approach from cradle all the way
through high school graduation to make sure that some of our
young people in our most impoverished neighborhoods
have the supports, the comprehensive supports
that they need to be able to be successful.
But that really, all of that brings me back to why we're
here today, which is to talk a little bit about the President's
investment in some of our nation's lowest
performing schools.
This is a central component of the President's vision to really
build an America that's built to last.
And right now, we have about 1700 high schools in our
country, as you all well know.
And they're feeder middle schools.
This is about 12% of the total high schools in our country
where we can track about half of America's dropouts, three
quarters of our dropouts of color, or African American and
Latino dropouts, can be found in some of these communities.
So that lead us to an urgent effort by our administration
to double down on investing in resources and in reform in
those communities.
And through the school improvement program,
through the SIG Program, we've made unprecedented investments,
now over $4.5 billion, to really dramatically change the way that
students are served in those schools, to really look at what
are the changes that we need in curriculum, what are the changes
that are needed in services and support for those students,
after school services, what are the changes that are needed
around how we look at data in those schools, how we respond to
the academic needs of those students, how we tweak
interventions for those students.
So from what we know so far, this SIG Program, our School
Improvement Grant Program, has indeed been a catalyst and an
accelerator for dramatic change in these schools.
We've already begun to see encouraging progress in reading
and math proficiency, even just over one year.
And we're continuing to gather data from across the country on
these outcomes in our SIG schools.
The more important point here is that, across the country, our
school principals, our teachers, our community leaders, our
superintendents, are all working together.
They're coming together to build schools where students want to
be, where they want to learn, where they want to succeed,
schools that really instill a culture of success and a culture
of possibility for our young people.
And that's what this program is all about.
It's incredibly tough work.
It's not work that we expect to do alone at the federal level.
We know we have a shared responsibility, but ultimately,
it's work we want to engage each and every one of you in
to move forward.
We know that we need to build a new community culture in many of
our SIG schools that view success and graduation for
our students as everyone's shared responsibility.
And that includes making sure that we're working closely and
genuinely with our parents, with our families, with our
communities in this effort to turn around
our low-performing schools.
So the leaders that we're going to recognize today are here to
share their stories, share those exceptional stories of success
with us and to remind us each and every day that the change
that we hope to achieve through the school improvement program
begins locally.
They all share a common and deep commitment to students, to their
communities, to their country.
They share in this belief that this school improvement work is
really about fortifying our democracy.
It's about fortifying our country and creating this
economy that will work for everyone, will deliver
opportunity for everyone.
Each of our champions has adapted turn around strategies
to fit the unique needs of their particular school,
of their particular community.
And they come at the implementation of turnaround
from a variety of perspectives.
So we'll here from the perspectives of principals,
of teachers, of support providers, of advocates.
And so importantly, they come with a perspective of parents
in mind because we know that our parents ultimately want the best
and want our schools to deliver upon the best for our students.
So I'm privileged and honored now to introduce each of these
champions so that they may discuss their perspectives
and discuss how the School Improvement Grant Program
has really made an impact locally in their communities.
So I'm going to ask each of these SIG champions to stand
and be recognized as they're introduced.
Our first SIG champion of change is David Cicarella.
David? Great.
David has been a classroom teacher, a staff developer,
and an instructional coach for 28 years in the New Haven Public
School System in Connecticut.
Dave is also the President of the New Haven Federation
of Teachers, a model local chapter around leading reform.
And in this role, he's lead school improvement efforts
that have produced a new four-year contract
emphasizing collaboration and cooperation in the district.
Thank you, David.
Our next champion of change, Jessica Gogerty.
Jessica, hi.
Jessica is a nationally board certified teacher,
a Presidential awardee for excellence in math and science
teaching, and a school improvement leader now serving
in Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa.
She served at North High School in Des Moines, Iowa for 15 years
where student achievement rose dramatically after receiving a
School Improvement Grant.
Our next champion of change is Carren Poff.
Yes, please have a seat.
Carren is a former Site Council chair and current English
Department chair for Ontario High School in Ontario, Oregon.
She began our her teaching career in Ontario High School
in 2008 and has taught English, writing, reading, language, and
freshman success courses there in Ontario.
Our next champion of change is Dr. Tanya Green.
Dr. Green is the principal of Friendship Prep Academy
at Calverton, a turnaround school in Baltimore, Maryland.
A former at-risk student herself, Dr. Green has
envisioned and overseen several innovative initiatives in order
to change one of Baltimore city's lowest performing and
more persistently dangerous schools into one of the city's
brightest shining stars.
Our next champion of change is Wendell Waukau.
For the past eight years, Wendell Waukau has served as
superintendent of schools of the Menominee Indian school
District, the only district in the state of Wisconsin to be
located almost entirely on an Indian reservation.
And in his role, Wendell has lead school improvement efforts
that focus not just on academics but also on healthy eating,
physical activity, and other supports, Menominee language
and culture, and onsite health services.
Our next champion of change is Linda St. Andre.
Linda St. Andre is currently the principal of Governor James B.
Longley Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine, the state's
first turnaround school.
She's worked for Lewiston Public Schools for over 30 years in
various teaching and administrative capacities,
including special education, elementary education, and as
a Title I coordinator.
I'm also going to recognize and ask that some of our other
champions also briefly stand.
These will be folks that will be on your second panel.
But I want to have an opportunity to
introduce them now.
So I'm going to go ahead and continue on here.
Our next champion of change, if you could please stand,
is David Romick.
David serves as President of the Dayton Education Association,
the Ohio Education Association affiliate in Dayton, Ohio.
And his simple philosophy, focus on the local, has contributed to
creating a collaborative atmosphere within the school
district which has helped to put the Dayton public schools on the
road toward improvement.
Our next champion of change is Brett Bernard.
Brett is the principal of Emerson Elementary School in
Kansas City, Kansas.
During his two years at Emerson, the school has made drastic
changes to improve instruction, increase parent and community
connections, extend learning time for students, and build
a culture of excellence and innovation for
students and staff.
Our next champion of change is Lusia Requenes.
I'm sorry, Lusia.
As a community and family specialist and as a parent
of two students at the school, Lusia Requenes provides the
bridge that connects schools and families to the critical
services that they need to succeed at Emerson Elementary
in Kansas City, Kansas.
In her role, she's made it her mission to empower parents to
play a leading role in the performance and success of their
students and, ultimately, of their school.
Our next champion of change is Kristen Hayes.
Kristen is a native Washingtonian, a professional
visual artist and an arts educator for the District of
Columbia Public Schools who has exhibited nationally and
internationally over a span of more than ten years.
Her most recent initiative is called Color is Life where the
transformative powers of color are applied to the walls of any
social environment like schools in need
of therapeutic adjustments.
She represents Savoy Elementary School, which is participating
in the turnaround arts initiative through the
President's Committee on Arts and the Humanities.
Our next champion of change is Edward Wiest.
Edward Wiest currently works at Plenty Coups High School in
Pryor, Montana as a mathematics teacher where he is actively
involved with school improvement through a
Schools of Promise grant.
He's a member of the school improvement labor
management team.
He chairs the local Montana Behavior Initiative Committee,
and he's working on obtaining national board
teacher certification.
And our final champion of change is Mr. Kevin Gray.
Excuse me, Kevin Gay.
Mr. Gay moved into the role of principal at Leslie County High
School, a persistently low achieving school in Hyden,
Kentucky in the fall of 2010.
He's proud to have lead his school to 16th on the state's
transitional academic index.
And he believes that school success will only continue to
improve based on obtaining and analyzing data to make decisions
and drive results.
I would like to ask each of you to give all of our Champions of
Change a rowdy applause.
And now it's my pleasure to introduce you to Deb Delisle who
serves as our administration's Assistant Secretary for
Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S.
Department of Education.
Deb is going to go ahead and lead us forward with
our first panel.
I'm going to ask our second panelists to go ahead and
step off stage for now.
Before her appointment as assistant secretary, Deb served
as our State Superintendent of Instruction at the Ohio
Department Of Education from 2008-2011.
And previously, she worked for the Cleveland Heights/University
Heights City School District in Ohio as superintendent and as
social superintendent.
Deb is a lifelong educator.
She started her career as an elementary teacher in
Connecticut and she serves in a variety of roles at the school
district level in Ohio.
We're really grateful in the Obama administration to have
Deb's leadership, to have her passion, to have her expertise
at the department overseeing all of our school turnaround
initiatives and several other programs that aim to improve
academic achievement and opportunity and to really drive
educational equity for all of our students in elementary and
secondary education.
So please join me in welcoming Deb and our first group of
turnaround champions.
Deb Delisle: Thank you so much.
And thank you, Roberto, for that very kind introduction.
I really appreciate it.
Thank you so much for being here.
I feel like I'm the thorn among roses here.
But let me congratulate all of the champions of change.
It's just so invigorating to me.
And I just feel so optimistic about the future of our schools
and the future trajectory of all of our students when we have
such dedicated individuals from parents to community members to
teachers, administrators, and everyone in between playing
various roles to really ensure that our children have the best
opportunities possible.
So I appreciate that.
So I'm going to start with you, David.
And it will give everyone else a chance to formulate their
sentence, so not you, being a fellow Connecticut person.
I'm going to ask each of our panel members to just be very
brief because they only have one sentence for a response.
And just one sentence that best describes to the folks who have
gathered here today the proudest moment of your work, the biggest
celebration that you could think of all in one sentence.
David Cicarella: It's great going first.
But I, perhaps maybe in one sentence, is the collaboration
that we've had.
We've worked very hard together.
It doesn't mean we always agree, but we've worked really hard.
We've collaborated.
And we've dealt with some very, very tough issues on the teacher
side and the education side.
And perhaps that's what I'm most proud of.
Deb Delisle: Great. Thank you.
Jessica Gogerty: I think the proudest moment was the day that we got our first
set of test scores at the end of our first year.
And the staff just gave up a cheer that you wouldn't believe
because we had worked so hard together.
We had done so much together to really make that happen.
And to have the results, we were astounded.
Deb Delisle: You are an English teacher, correct?
Carren Poff: Yes, I am.
Deb Delisle: So you're grading them on their like run-on sentences?
No pressure for the rest of the group.
Just asking.
Carren Poff: Honestly, no.
I was thinking of my sentence.
Mine's actually a quote from a student, a very low achieving
student who came up to me with tears in her eyes and was
saying, you know, Ms, this is the first time I've ever felt
confident in myself.
That just about did it for me.
Deb Delisle: Thank you. Tanya?
Dr. Tanya Green: My proudest moment was receiving our test scores back this year
and realizing that our students with special needs had met the
target this year.
We have several students with IEPs.
And to know that we worked very hard and they worked very hard
to achieve was a big proud moment for me.
Deb Delisle: Wonderful. Wendell?
Wendell Waukau: My proudest moment was our last graduation ceremony in which we
were able to tell our community that we had achieved a 94%
graduation rate of cohort freshmen where five years ago,
you know, we were promoting 50% of our kids on to 10th grade.
So I was just so proud of our students and our staff.
Deb Delisle: Wonderful. Thank you. And Linda?
Linda St. Andre: One of my proudest moments was this summer, in our summer
program, seeing some of our older students, fifth and sixth
graders, tutor younger students and seeing some of those kids
who may have had some behavioral challenges step up to the plate
and become leaders and teachers themselves.
We saw a whole new side of some of our most difficult students.
That was awesome.
Deb Delisle: Aren't they awesome?
This is so great, so optimistic.
So any person who's ever written a negative story about school
should be here right now.
That was an editorial comment, I apologize.
So I'm going to dig a little deeper.
I'm not going to restrict you to one sentence.
You know, we often discuss and talk about or describe
achievement gaps in terms of achievement test scores.
And I'm really concerned that perhaps we haven't shown as
bright a light on what I refer to as access and
opportunity gaps.
And these opportunity gaps plague some of our most
challenged students and certainly some of the schools
in which you're working.
So I would like you -- and you don't have to go in any
specific order here.
I would really like you to share with me and with our group here
an example of how your specific site ensures access and
opportunity for all kids, especially those who are
most challenged and certainly in the areas of access to rigorous
curriculum and support structures that are needed
for success.
Jessica Gogerty: One of the things we did at North High School that was
really very helpful to us is we looked at the students who were
not quite proficient in reading and then we targeted them and
grouped them together based on what skills they need.
So if they weren't very good at fluency, we worked with just the
kids who need fluency with the teacher like the choir teacher
who's good at fluency.
Or if they weren't good at comprehension, we had them work
with the biology teacher who was really good at getting
comprehension out of the text and really targeted our staff
development for how to teach those students and teach those
skills so they can now read and access that information for
themselves whether it's in a textbook, online, or whatever.
So that's one.
We did several.
One-to-one initiatives and all of that too.
Dr. Tanya Green: One of our primary initiatives when we started in this
turnaround process, was to outfit every classroom with
the most up-to-date technology.
We were still teaching from chalkboards and chalk
and chart paper.
And we really weren't engaging our students
and meeting their needs.
So every classroom is outfitted with an interactive whiteboard.
We have a smart lab for our students from pre-k to 8 to
go in and learn and explore the solar system, technology.
Every student has access to computer technology in our
new computer labs.
We built science labs.
But then we even dug deeper past the academics and began to look
at how can we engage our students in things
like lacrosse.
We have a lacrosse team.
We have a soccer team.
We have a track team to really bring in and engage our
students, you know, full circle wraparound services just to
really meet their needs and begin to give them the
opportunities that they would normally miss.
Deb Delisle: Wonderful.
Carren Poff: In Ontario High School, we're beginning to do some
of those things.
Like I know we have a big push for language and literacy
interventions because we have such a high need for those.
And really trying to get the lowest grade level, those
students who are at first, second, third grade level
reading and writing, getting them to the classes that will
teach them the foundational knowledge of English.
And this last year -- this will be the first year we'll be able
to implement it at our middle school.
So hopefully by the time they get up to the high school, we'll
be able to offer them higher level classes.
We're also -- we have a lot more college credit courses
that we're offering.
And we have a new science wing that will offer
biomedical and robotics.
And just trying to create a staff that's really
collaborative, really open to sharing their best practices
and helping each other out.
Wendell Waukau: At Menominee Indian High School, particularly the school
district, we have a number of things that we're doing with
college readiness.
For instance, our students are able to take distance learning
classes via distance learning.
Our students, high school students can take college
courses at our College of Menominee Nation.
We have a partnership with them.
We also have pre-college opportunities.
We have a pre-college partnership with a top notch
university, UW Wisconsin Madison, which actually
starts at middle school.
And as kids go through the program, they actually go on
site at UW Madison, live on campus, and experience college
life and college learning.
Deb Delisle: And I'm assuming most of those students would be
first-generation college students?
Wendell Waukau: A good majority are first generation college students.
David Cicarella: In New Haven, we've really changed the practices and the
policies as to how we select students and how we place
students in their courses so that we don't end up
inadvertently having exclusionary policies
where students can't get the different tracks and things
and access to courses.
So we've done a pretty good job with that.
That was in the short term to fix it.
In the long-term, we really put in, as part of our systemic
reform, wraparound services so that we don't get in a situation
where students are in high school and, well, you can't take
that course because you're not ready for that course.
So the long-term solution is the wraparound starting from pre-k
and work their way up so when students get to high school,
they'll all be ready for Algebra and advanced courses they need
for college.
Linda St. Andre: One of our initiatives at Longley has been to provide
students with many field trip experiences.
In our community, at our school where 65% immigrant students who
mostly come from Somalia, and many of these children don't
have the vocabulary or the background knowledge skills
to bring with them to the learning in their classroom.
So we've really been focused on giving them just everyday
experiences that most of them have not ever had.
Deb Delisle: Wonderful. Thank you.
You know, as you're describing certain pieces of work or
describing some initiatives that you're doing, I'm struck by how
important it is to really focus in on the culture of your
particular school setting, getting people to not think
about kids in disparate groups, thinking about that all of our
kids can succeed.
And that's a huge shift for some folks.
And it's a huge shift in terms of the policies and practices,
because some of our own policies or practices get in the way of
students, for example, as you mentioned Dave, accessing
certain courses.
So talk a little bit and share with us a little bit about the
work that you certainly had to do on the front end to get
people thinking.
So you received a School Improvement Grant,
and that's great.
And I know when I've gotten grants, it's yahoo.
And then the next day, it's like, oh, the work now begins.
It was more exciting to be in the process of getting
the grant, right.
So the work begins.
So what did you do?
What are some things that you just walked in -- you weren't
the Pied Piper necessarily.
People weren't going to jump on your bandwagon and say, yeah, we
weren't doing our jobs, we didn't feel good about what we
were doing or our work wasn't happening for kids?
So how did you go about doing that?
How do you build that culture?
Jessica Gogerty: Well, at North, we were the lowest achieving high school
in the state of Iowa.
So it wasn't too hard to convince the staff that
that was something that needed to be changed.
Deb Delisle: You didn't have t-shirts that said like lowest performing?
Jessica Gogerty: No. No, we didn't.
But it was exciting because we had a really compassionate and
highly talented teaching staff.
We were just all going our own way.
We were all separated.
So one of our biggest things we had to do was we had to get all
of us together and moving in the same direction and thinking the
same way and using the same terminology and kind of
harnessing our power together.
So, you know, after this experience, I don't think I
would ever want to teach alone again because having people to
really talk about our instructional strategies and our
instructional challenges together and solve those
problems together collaboratively was really one
of the most powerful and most influential thing that we did.
David Cicarella: I was going to say, you mentioned collaboration.
That's a term we use a lot.
It's a very nice word, and we all agree on it.
But I will say it's probably the most difficult thing.
The hardest work is to collaborate.
It was so much easier when we were fighting.
I mean, you can just go off to your corners.
Deb Delisle: Not good modeling for children though.
David Cicarella: So I think it really is though starting the conversation and
getting away from blaming.
And that's -- it's easier said than done.
But once you do start that, you'll find you'll get some
traction for it.
Because the impetus is out there, and people do want
to do that.
I mean, everyone would prefer to cooperate.
It's no question about it.
But it's just difficult.
It's easier to get the kids to collaborate and cooperate.
The adults, much more difficult in this system,
I think we all find.
But I think that's, maybe, perhaps one of the biggest
things is that get the mindset changed so that you can get
started on it.
And it doesn't happen at once.
It is a slow process, agonizingly slow sometimes.
But once it does get some traction, it does move
pretty well.
Dr. Tanya Green: We're tripping over each other up here.
Deb Delisle: This is exciting that you're all so bubbly.
Dr. Tanya Green: I think for us it was really a big challenge.
We're kind of unique in that we are not a charter school.
We're still part of our school district, but we have a lead
charter operator, Friendship Public Charter Schools, that
comes in and works primarily with us with our district.
And sometimes it's almost like you're serving two masters
because sometimes they can have opposing initiatives.
I think for us it was, again, that collaboration, having both
our school district and our charter school operator come in
and show us how to collaborate, but also showing us what we were
doing well.
So it wasn't that we were starting over from scratch but
they were actually acknowledging what we were doing well and now
here's how it can be better.
And I think that really helped us work.
And it worked.
Wendell Waukau: As you can see, I wanted to jump on that collaboration bandwagon.
But I wanted to add a piece about community engagement
which, I don't know, there are so many different ways
to define it.
But we look it as people who of same proximity, geographical
location, similar interest, working together for the
betterment of a cause.
So we look at, you know, the graduation crisis in our
district more like a public health crisis.
Because we're looking at obesity.
We're looking at mental health, AODA.
And so what we've been fortunate to do is to go out into our
community, bring the community in, and bring the resources to
the kids because you know, if we can believe all kids can learn,
then we have to be willing to educate the whole child.
And we're just fortunate with our staff, our leadership, our
community agencies.
We've just been blessed in that journey.
Linda St. Andre: And just to piggyback on that, I think the community is so
important and the perception of the community of our school is
very, very important.
Lewiston is my hometown.
So I grew up with the stereotype statements about
the downtown school.
And it's just about getting in there and shining a positive
light on all the good things that are going on there and
focusing on that and making sure that the public is aware of it.
That has been huge for us at Longley.
You know, when I first started there, we did some cosmetic
kinds of things to brighten the place and make it look more
inviting and, you know, just publicizing the fact that PBIS
data shows that our kids do behave and do well.
So it's just a matter of finding the positives.
And I think that that encourages everyone, students, staff, and
the whole community.
Deb Delisle: So it strikes me -- and I would walk away from this
room believing that you are all leaders.
And unfortunately, sometimes people view leadership from a
hierarchical role or a certain title.
So talk to us about how you've changed your
perception about leadership.
And how vital do you think it is to have various roles associated
with leaders and leadership, assuming responsibilities if you
will, if that's part of the role of the leader as well, casting
the vision and working collaboratively together.
Jessica Gogerty: Well, as we were talking before this whole event, what I heard a
lot of people talking about was how to get teacher leadership
and to really develop the capacity of the teachers
in the classroom.
If you've got a real xxphony problem, the people in the
classroom usually have some good ideas if you can just get them
together to figure it out or give them a vehicle, a structure
to solve some of those problems and really be clear about what
your non-negotiables are.
What do you have to do, what do you have to have to be
successful in solving this problem?
And your teachers will come through.
So having a lot of different leadership pathways for
teachers, not just administrator or classroom teacher and
that's it.
But more pathways for people to really kind of develop that
capacity and be leaders in the school.
Dr. Tanya Green: I think when you talk about turnaround work -- because we
are talking about some of our lowest performing schools or
some of our neediest children and families -- the best way to
really empower your staff, your students, your community, is to
really employ servant leadership, to just roll your
sleeves up and not just tell people what to do and dictate
and mandate but to do the work side by side, alongside with
your staff and your students.
And that makes them feel as though it really can be done.
Deb Delisle: So can you give us a specific example of how you've done that?
Dr. Tanya Green: I can give you many examples on how.
So for example, things as small as lunch duty.
If you want to really stress to teachers in a turnaround or any
school the importance of being on time for work, be the first
person at work.
Make sure you're working with them to solve crises.
You are serving the lunch.
We had an incident one day where the hot water didn't work in the
cafeteria and so I ran down to the cafeteria and started
making lunches.
That means a lot to teachers.
If a teacher has to leave early, I'll teach your class.
If a teacher is having issues with planning,
let me help you co-plan.
I'm a teacher too.
I'm a science teacher.
I know how to write a plan.
Let me co-teach.
Let me model.
Let me demonstrate.
Because a lot of our schools are not just the lowest achieving.
They also are poor facilities.
So my school has no air conditioning.
So I'm in there in the heat in the classroom doing small
groups, pulling small groups, dealing with discipline, showing
them how to transition.
That empowers them.
Dr. Deb Delisle: Tell them about painting the walls.
Dr. Tanya Green: We paint the bathrooms.
It's just an investment.
And I think that for my school, where it was when I got there in
2005 to where it is now, really took a lot of the servant
leadership and the modeling where teachers now paint
with me.
Teachers now come in and say, let me paint my desks, versus me
doing it myself with the custodian over the summer.
And so I think it's, for this work and for you to really make
change, you have to serve, not have a perception of
being served.
Wendell Waukau: I would like to add.
First of all, we have air conditioning in our high school.
Dr. Tanya Green: Lucky dog.
You lucky devil.
Wendell Waukau: But I was blessed by a mentor who told me that leadership is
simply about influence, nothing more, and that just because
you're in a leadership position doesn't necessarily mean that
people are going to give you the permission to lead them.
So I've been fortunate that we've put that leadership into
the schools with our principals.
We have leadership teams.
We have positive behavior, management teams.
And we give them time to talk with one another.
We give them common planning time.
We give them an opportunity to look at data and bring those
recommendations and those ideas back to the school level, the
district level.
And now we're starting to bring our students and make them a
part of that leadership team also.
But again, I really believe in that whole model of
servant leadership.
So thank you for making it, Tanya.
David Cicarella: I just might add, on the leadership, I think perhaps the
biggest thing -- our contract was kind of unique in that we
incorporated a new teacher evaluation system that
incorporated student learning.
Very difficult issue.
Test scores as well as the tenure issues,
we had a lot of things.
And to get perhaps the buy-in from the teachers in my case
is perhaps that there had to be some trust issues there.
Because we're, you know, taking a risk.
No one wants to be scapegoated.
No one wants to be blamed.
And we've kicked that around with education.
It's the teacher's fault.
No, it's the principal's fault.
It's the school board's fault.
And my comment is, look, we're not going to fire
our way to success.
I mean, that's not the way it can be done.
But the people -- again, I'm speaking because of the
teachers, but it wasn't much different for the
administrators, parents as well.
I mean I think they will buy in when there's some trust there
that I'm not going to be blamed, we are truly going to work on
this together.
And in our case, we used collective bargaining process.
You know, we put some teeth into what we said that we
were going to do.
And my final comment is I've been around, a classroom teacher
for 28 years.
Lots of plans coming from the top.
Well intentioned, well written.
No buy in from the teachers or even
the building administrators.
And of course they would say, well, you didn't ask me, that's
why it failed.
And then when the political will dried up or the money dried up,
there went the plan.
Then a new plan came in with a new superintendent
or new school board.
So we felt it was important to use collective bargaining.
We've all agreed to it.
We've signed to it.
And there's no backing away from it now.
We must do this work that we've agreed to.
Deb Delisle: Can you give one example -- and then I'm going to follow up so
other people can talk about the leadership?
But could you give an example in that collective
bargaining piece?
So maybe a surprise clause, a clause that may surprise
other people that you reached agreement on.
Can you think of one?
David Cicarella: I'll be brief for you.
One big part of it was a teacher evaluation system.
We have a unique validation system whereby we have outside
validaters come out to the classroom.
If a teacher is struggling and there's some consequences for
them or if they're exemplary on the other end and ready for
leadership roles, we wanted to make sure that another pair of
eyes, an expert, another person went to that classroom
to do the observation.
So we call that validation.
So when the principal or the administrator goes to the
teacher's classroom, another person went with them, sat apart
from each other and both did their observations and then
we would compare those, if needed, down the line.
As far as the -- everyone knew why.
For the struggling teachers, we wanted to make sure that they,
you know, were treated fairly, that they were validated,
they weren't scapegoated.
But on the exemplary teachers, we're often asked, why would you
have the exemplary teachers?
These are good teachers.
Well, we wanted to also to make sure that, if we're going to put
these people in leadership positions only that the best
and brightest that were going to move up to leadership positions,
we wanted to be certain of that.
So that's kind of a unique clause that we have in our
system, the validation piece.
Deb Delisle: Great. Thank you.
Other thoughts on leadership?
Linda St. Andre: I just wanted to say that as a leader now myself, I've been
fortunate to have the leaders I've had in the past and
currently be excellent role models who allowed me to,
as I was just kind of trying out leadership, to take risks.
And sometimes I was successful, and sometimes I failed.
But they were supportive either way.
So I've tried to model that for my staff and to develop that in
some of my staff and just to go by the mantra that I'm nothing
without my staff.
So I would like for them to be able to move
on into other roles.
Deb Delisle: Carren?
Carren Poff: Just as a new teacher perspective, I think the most
important thing for the staff that I talk to a lot and for
myself is that our leadership is there for us.
I mean, they're there to listen to us.
They're there to hear us complain.
They'll come into our classroom and see what's really going on
and see the issue instead of just handing out, you need to
do this, you need to do this, this needs to get better.
Well, come and see why this is going on and let's see if
we can collaborate.
So I think just collaboration and being heard and
supported is --
Deb Delisle: So Carren, tell me.
How do you -- I guess I'm going to say urge or push.
Maybe it's push.
But how do you urge your colleagues to make sure that
they bring their issues forward?
You know that it's not the meeting in the parking lot after
the staff meeting in the school or it's not the closed doors in
the classroom after the meeting that you've had.
How do you encourage them to do that?
Carren Poff: Well, I'm lucky.
We have an amazing staff.
And being on Site Council kind of allowed me to kind of hear
what was going on in the leadership in our school.
So if a staff -- they felt pretty comfortable coming
to me if they had a concern or something
they were not happy about.
And I said, you know, let's go talk.
You know, Covatch (phonetic) is here, let's go talk to him.
And we did.
I would bring him down and I would say, okay what do you
need me to talk to him first?
But, just basically saying, bring it to their attention.
Deb Delisle: So encouraging them and it sounds like you have also
offered support to them.
Just to be there with him to help their voice be heard.
Carren Poff: Yeah. I knew, I knew just from working so closely with the
administration that they were willing to be there
for the staff.
And listen to them.
But I think from past administration before my time,
I think they are a little hesitant to come forward.
So I think it is a cool drip change, but we have some really
great leaders that are coming forward and really helping.
Deb Delisle: Yeah.
And it sounds like you all are breaking down your own walls,
in, in whatever context.
I am going to switch it a little bit.
So we are moving into an, era of college and career ready
standards for all students.
And we all know the reports and the reasons why we have got to
do that.
So in your particular sites, what are you doing to ensure
that all kids have access to college and career
ready standards?
And then most importantly, like can you give an example of
support structures you are putting in place to ensure that
all of your kids will be successful?
Dr. Tanya Green: So we are doing a lot of work around the common core which is
coming up, which we know if we do it effectively, these
transitions toward preK to 8 that our students will be
prepared for college and their experiences in college.
Our students actually with the support of friendship public
charter schools went to Harvard University.
So we are doing a lot of college tours.
We do college homecoming.
We are trying to bring a lot of the college life experiences in
a meaningful way into the school.
Our students are taught about college and explore colleges
through their websites from preK to 8.
We are trying to do a lot more partnerships with our
local colleges.
We have Morgan State University, Coppin State University,
Towson University.
And we are trying to reach out and come up with new innovative
ways of bringing that college experience and prepare that
information to our students.
Because they are so young.
And often in the preK to 8, they can't see that far.
And so we are trying to make that a reality for them.
Carren Poff: I know that we have created a freshman success class for our
incoming freshman that introduces them to different
colleges, financial aid, scholarship opportunities.
We have also for our English department, we have gone over to
the common core of proficiency based curriculum.
And in it, we teach them, we incorporate every day that these
are some skills that you are going to need to be successful
in college.
And that is I think that is a ten percent part of their grade.
But it is opening that communication up about college
and what you are going to need and bringing the colleges in.
We have a lot of colleges come in.
Last year we had a college liaison, so we had plenty of
guest speakers and we are just moving forward.
And a lot more kids are talking about colleges and -- further
things like that.
David Cicarella: Yeah. I mean ours is probably rather basic in that what we
do is we put an awful lot of bodies in the schools.
Try to reduce class size.
Try to get additional teachers.
For example, a lot of teachers that retire, come back and work
19 and a half hours.
And they use those, these people with tremendous expertise and
they will come in and they will be reading tutors, math tutors
to get the kids caught up.
We still have our tag program for the talented and gifted.
They are trying to address that, that other end.
But it really, that piece it comes down to the personnel and
people tease me and say, because we haven't had cutbacks in the
teaching staff in New Haven.
Despite all of the financial difficulties.
And they ask me, how is your superintendent doing?
I don't know.
I don't ask him.
I don't want to know.
God bless him, because he does a terrific job at that.
That is where we are.
Deb Delisle: Great.
Wendell Waukau: I would like to just mention a couple of things unique in our,
our school system.
We actually teach a class of it is called our rules basically.
It is teaching kids how to build resources.
Our daughter Joan didn't like the class very much but you know
because it was all about teaching you how to be
successful in college.
But once they go through our rules, we also have another
system of supports where every high school kid has
a graduation coach.
We don't put that responsibility just on our guidance department.
They are responsible for about five, six kids.
They follow those kids all of the way through.
They look at their attendance, they look at their grades.
You know, it is another, it is another support system.
I think what we did is years ago they talked about breaking
ranks, talked about having that one significant adult that every
kid can go to.
Well, we have just kind of tweaked it a little bit.
But then we also built, we build on that.
We have ACT boot camps and we have a retired taxpayer from our
community who made the mistake one day of coming in my office
and asked, how can I help?
And he has been working for about three and a half
years for now.
So we sponsor these ACT boot camps and get our kids ready.
And it is just, you know, we are having some pretty good success
with that.
Our ACT scores are starting to go up.
Jessica Gogerty: Every freshman at north high school takes conceptual physics.
Not physical science, but algebra based
conceptual physics.
Including our self contained special education students.
And in order to make that happen, we have, we make sure
that all of our conceptual physics teachers even the
special ed teacher have plan time together every other day
for an hour and a half to sit down and go through strategies
and how we are going to get our kids to understand this.
We are seeing that they are better at algebra.
Because they are doing hands on, experimental research into the
basic fundamentals of algebra based physics.
That is just one example.
We have multiple examples like that.
But that is how you get kids ready.
You have got to build their skills and give them confidence.
A lot of them don't even realize that we are doing a little bit
of precalculus with them.
Linda St. Andre: Besides making sure that we are teaching to the rigor of common
core, one of the things that we have really focused on at
Longley is having college be at the forefront of students minds
all of the time.
Just having visuals about it.
They learned their college graduation year when they
enter preK.
They are called to our monthly assemblies by that year.
Every classroom has adopted a college and that college has
adopted them.
So once a week, they wear their college garb and so -- and, and
when they come to the office, I often ask them, you know, well,
so is this behavior going to help you get to college?
So just talking about it all of the time and keeping it in the
forefront as an expectation, not really a choice.
But it is, it is the way things go.
Elementary, high school, college.
So --
Deb Delisle: I think our time is just about up and I, I just feel like we
could talk about so much.
We haven't gotten into teacher prep and professional
development and just the list goes on and on.
I am sure you would have a wealth of information to share
and ideas to share with us.
I have to say when I was thinking about the responses
you were giving to me, I was thinking so these words came
to mind about you are all collaborators and leaders and
you have tenacity and vision and courage and compassion and hope.
And I have to tell you, that several years ago, it was
actually a state board member in Ohio who came to me one day
after I had made a presentation and she gave me a plaque.
It is usually one of those name plaques.
It wasn't my name on it.
It said not on my watch.
I happened to that use that term because I was thinking about all
of the kids who are slipping through the cracks and thinking
about, you know, when do we get school turn around and school
improvement right?
Can we afford to wait another generation?
And I had said, not on my watch.
This can't happen, not on my watch.
So if I had tablet to give to you, I would each say thank you,
because not on my watch.
You live that every single day.
So I want really, really want to thank you not only on behalf of
the US Department of Education, and certainly the White House,
but thank you for what you do for your kids every single day.
It matters and it matters a lot.
So let's give them a round of applause.
Roberto Rodriquez: Thank you.
We want to thank all of our champions and thank you to our
Assistant Secretary for leading that conversation.
Great, candid, and thoughtful discussion around leadership,
around collaboration, around how we forge agreement around
a shared mission.
So thank you for all of those important lessons.
I would like now to call up our Deputy Assistant Secretary for
policy at our Office of Elementary and Secondary
Education, Jason Snyder to lead our second panel.
And Jason serves as our Deputy Assistant Secretary in the
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
He leads the Office of School Turn Around at the US Department
of Education.
And administers the School Improvement Grants.
And helps coordinate our school turn around efforts.
Jason brings a wealth of experience and knowledge
to this work.
He has served as a social studies teacher, as a government
history and economic teacher in the past, as well as an
education law attorney.
But he also brings a great passion and commitment to this
work and has really been a guiding light in building a
foundation for the school improvement grant program over
the past three years at the department.
We are very grateful for his leadership.
So thank you, Jason.
And I will call up our second round of champs
to begin the conversation.
Jason Snyder: Good afternoon, everyone.
And thank you to the first set of champs.
Those were some incredibly inspiring words.
And, you know, just one quick comment here as we look around
and seeing the turn around work that is going on around the
entire country in all corners of the country, it is amazing as,
as Secretary Duncan has said, that this is really a movement
of turn around right now.
This is not just single instances, pockets of excellence
here or there, but a real movement to, to make a dramatic
difference in schools that for far too long have denied
students equal education opportunity.
And so we are just incredibly grateful for all of the work
that is being done all across the country.
I would like to start off by asking our panelists because
this is about turn around.
So a little bit about the before and after.
If you had to pick one thing and say this has been the biggest
change that has happened over the last couple of years.
And how it has made a dramatic difference in the lives of
students, what would that be?
And why don't I start with Kevin.
Do you mind if I start with you over there?
Kevin Gay: That is fine. I wasn't anticipating that.
Jason Snyder: Surprise. Sorry.
Kevin Gay: I think you know the focus on the individual student at our
school as well as collaboration that you have heard so much of.
But we were not looking at student data at the
individual level.
And I was just thinking a minute ago of, you know,
we put in processes in place.
When do we look at that data to make decisions based on the
individual students to intervene or to enrich or to whatever,
whatever the case may be.
And I think before we were not doing that effectively.
So the difference is that we look at every child as an
individual based on their own specific needs and where we have
processes in place, that ensures that we are not
missing those students.
So that along with collaboration and having a systems approach.
And I may talk about that a little bit later.
That everything is a system and how does it all link together so
that we are not, that we are intentionally aligning those
systems and processes that we're not missing students.
That we are not leaving things out.
That we are all working towards a common goal and
a common vision.
So to me, those things are what is brought about dramatic change
at Leslie County High School that we are very proud of.
Jason Snyder: Anyone else want to jump in?
Brett Bernard: Well, I go back to the culture and climate of Emerson as the
first thing that I -- I was not at Emerson prior to being
a school turn around school.
So I have kind of am going by what I have heard and what
stories I have been told.
But it was a place where I don't think parents felt welcome as a
part of our school.
It was a place where I felt teachers felt like they were
being told what to do.
And how to do it.
One that didn't embrace their strengths and believe in what
they were doing.
And so the last, two years I have been at Emerson, I have
seen the belief in our students and our staff
just grow and grow.
I think that has been the catalyst for our,
for our improvement.
David Romick: Things Bellmont High School, I often draw comparisons between
Bellmont High School and Dayton and East Side High in the movie
Lean On Me.
That is the kind of environment that Bellmont was prior to
conversations about school improvement.
From the perspective of a union leader, it is nice to have a
successful model in our district.
Because now that successful model can drive the conversation
content between the teachers union and the administration in
different directions than would have been the case three or four
years ago.
So the biggest difference I see sort of from before to after our
turn around is the nature of the conversation.
The subject matter of the conversation.
We are student outcome driven.
Whether that is college and career readiness, whether that
is proficiency, there are a number of ways
of describing that.
But every conversation we have is student outcome driven.
I would say that is the biggest difference.
Kristen Hayes: I think I would say allowing the kids, allowing the students to
have a buy-in in the school.
Focusing more on their self expression, feeling more
comfortable, and enthusiastic about actually coming to school
and learning and acknowledging their personal talents has
really encouraged higher achievement as well elementary.
The school, the students are really becoming more engaged
in the process of learning and using their natural talents to,
to contribute to their own learning.
It is not just the teacher.
But them actually participating in the process.
Taking ownership of it.
Has I think encouraged a better environment at Savoy.
Edward Wiest: I think one of the biggest differences in our school is
just attitude of hope.
I just I feel like everybody looks at what is happening in
the school and feel much more hopeful of where we are going.
And just to kind of piggyback off of what some of these other
people have said, I think our students really feel for the
first time that they have a voice in their education.
And I think that is something that has been ignored for a
long time.
You know, we have all as teachers and educators, we have,
we have always kind of planned what was best for them.
We have had all kinds of programs available to them.
But for the first time, I think they feel like they, they really
have some way to, to influence what their educational outcomes
are going to be.
Jason Snyder: And that is why I, I was out at school a couple of months ago.
And just north of Billings and prior, and that is what I heard
over and over again from students.
I am more engaged and I am involved now in my education and
that there is, there is people around me who are pushing me to
do more.
Jason Snyder: That is great.
Lusia, I would like to ask you a question about how
you got involved.
And you are, you are a parent on the panel here and you decided
you wanted to be part of this turn around process.
And President Obama has called for the support for our lowest
performing schools, our collective responsibility.
And you said this is part of my responsibility.
What, what made you get involved?
And what do you do now?
Lusia Requenes: I went to Emerson elementary as a child and I have lived in the
community all of my life.
I have two daughters that have always attended
Emerson Elementary.
I was a stay at home mom for nine years.
I did what I thought was right.
Read to your child.
Check the planner, the homework, everything.
I get a letter in 2010.
Saying that our school was one of the lowest performing schools
in Kansas.
That is when I said why?
And what can I do to help?
Why I was not, why was I not informed?
How did I not catch that my daughters were attending the
lowest school?
That is part of --
Jason Snyder: You were surprised by that.
Lusia Requenes: I was surprised.
Jason Snyder: Yeah. And so what did you, what did you decide to do?
Lusia Requenes: Get, well, I applied for -- (laughter)
Jason Snyder: Tell us what happened.
That was interesting.
Brett Bernard: That was interesting.
I learned that I was going to take over Emerson in I think
March of that year before the next school year.
And so I was in May I was coming to the school for the first time
to just get a feel for it.
And introduce, be introduced as the new principal,
incoming program.
First person I meet as I walk in that auditorium, with her
two daughters was Lusia.
So at that point, I knew she is going to be involved in our
school, one way or another.
And so I could either hire her to be on my team, as what I
ended up choosing to be as our parent community specialist.
And before that even happened, I had a lot of people speak to how
what a dynamic person she was.
What skills she brought to our school.
And her daughters were beautiful, wonderful kids and we
wanted them to stay with us.
So we talked Lusia into joining our team.
And it is one of the best decisions that I think we have
made as a school.
Jason Snyder: How and what kind of activities does Lusia help out with?
Lusia, you tell us please.
What kind of -- (laughter) -- activities do you help out with
right now?
What are you doing to help, to help improve the school?
Lusia Requenes: Well, I think just keeping the parents informed.
That has been my biggest mission, communicate with them,
being up front with them, genuine and respectful.
One of the biggest changes that I have seen in our parents now
in the two short years is the interaction that they have.
They have someone they can speak to about anything academics,
behavior, health.
Brett Bernard: Keep going.
And one other piece is, you know, as we started this school
turn around process is we knew if we wanted to make the student
achievement gains we had hoped for, we couldn't do
it by ourselves.
We couldn't continue to have the relationship that we had that
our parents previously had, the relationship with the school.
Something had to change.
We needed more out of our parents.
And so one of the biggest pieces was we had to start building
relationships with our parents.
They had to have a face that they could come to, someone they
believed in that could be, that liaison between school and staff
and, and the staff at the inner school and with our parents.
And Lusia was that.
You know, things we had to ask of our parents.
You know, we needed, we needed our kids to come to school an
extra and a half longer.
For those that were falling behind.
And, and so without that relationship built in,
why am I going to send my kid to your school for an
extra hour and a half.
We needed to build that.
We also, which we had a third of our students weren't reading on
grade level when we started.
So dramatic things had to change with our literacy program.
And so we needed to increase the amount of reading not just
at school but at home too.
And again, asking for our parents involvement
and commitment.
We cannot do that without the work of our parent community
specialist, without the work of our two teachers out there,
you know without building those relationships.
You know, it is Lusia' job to kind of get the motor going and
now she is helping our teachers continue that work.
Jason Snyder: Let me open that up.
Does anybody else want to speak to the importance of community
and family engagement and community involvement in
your schools?
Edward Wiest: Sure, I would like to do that if that would be okay.
I teach on a reservation in Montana on the Crow Reservation
of Crow Nation kids.
And community to Native American people is way more important
than people may understand just how important community is.
And that the, the collective values that they share.
So we are a small school, very, very small rural school.
And so what we had thought, we thought we were doing a pretty
good job of connecting with community because parents felt
pretty welcome coming into our school.
They would come to our classroom.
We could talk to the parents.
But what we, at least for myself let me say it that way, what I
didn't realize is that they were a guest in our school.
They were coming into our school as guests and what we needed to
do and what we have started to do was to go back into the
community and visit the parents in their homes.
And now all of a sudden I am their guest.
And that is a whole different dynamic than having them come
into my school room.
So tremendous stories that you hear when you get to know the
parents at that kind of a level.
And when you start just asking them about what is your dreams
and aspirations and your hopes for your children.
It starts to blow you away.
Because you always make these assumptions when you are in a
low performing school.
You think, well, maybe the parents really don't care.
Because you have these, just heart wrenching stories of
children and what happens there.
But when you go and meet the parents in their homes,
that is just a real change in attitude in myself.
And what I realize now is that there is not one parent that I
have ever met that doesn't care, not even a little bit.
But a great deal about the future of their child.
Jason Snyder: Okay.
Kristen Hayes: Well, I am sorry.
I would like to piggyback on that as well.
Just as an Art instructor at Savoy Elementary a personal
story, I have had several parents, you know normally
during PTA, you know, the Art teacher is like the last person
that they want to visit, you know.
It is like, all right, no, I will just walk past.
But it was so interesting to find parents who had some
inclination or you know some interest in Art when
they were younger.
And they would come in with these stories and say, you know,
I used to enjoy doing that.
You know, how is my son or daughter doing in your class?
And you know, how -- are they, you know, are they completing
the projects?
Are they, you know what are they interested in?
And actually give me suggestions you know on things that might
interest their children, you know.
So, you know, again, the whole buy in with the students as well
as their parents is so important.
And, you know, ours is just another way to bring them all
together, the parent and the student back into the schools,
you know.
Jason Snyder: One of the things as a former teacher I know that too often
as educators, we do our work in isolation and don't do it
together with others.
I was wondering if you guys could give some examples of
how through your turn around processes, you have broken down
that isolation in your schools or in your communities?
Kevin Gay: I think one of the ways that Leslie County High School, we
use what we call professional learning communities through the
work of DFAR (sp), with that protocol, and they have been
true professional learning communities.
You know, you can call them PLC's, you can say you are
collaborative, but I think through the protocol that we
have used, we, we asked teachers to come out of every meeting
with an action plan or some action steps that something
has occurred meaningful for our students when they leave
every meeting.
So that has been and those educators, as someone on
the last panel said, they solve their own problems.
I mean, they are the ones with the ownership.
We support as leaders in the building, we are there to offer
resources to support, to give the training necessary, or
whatever the issues may be.
But we have had, we have really had very little need to go
outside for professional development, because we found
that our teachers when they are collaborating together and they
have a set protocol and process and they know what they are
looking for, and what they are trying to accomplish, they are
the ones that can come up with the best answers that there are.
So that has been the vehicle behind our turn around at Leslie
County High School.
And they are true professional learning communities based
on action.
And our teachers have been the ones that have stepped up and
just made all of the difference.
David Romick: I think breaking down some of traditional school structures is
helpful and necessary in a lot of cases.
And by that, I mean, for example, in a high school, a six
period day, where five periods are teaching, and then you have
got a planning period.
I think in terms of school improvement, what we have been
able to do successfully in Dayton is break down that
traditional structure and re, rebuild it so the teachers
have common time.
Just giving the opportunity and actually in some cases forcing
initially teachers to talk to each other, is important.
It gives them time to share what works and what doesn't.
To share strategies that are effective, strategies that
are not effective.
On the other side, it gives teachers and administrators a
chance to sit down and talk about where their
problems may be.
This student isn't, isn't acting as he should in my room.
How is he doing for the rest of you?
And if we can sit collectively and collaboratively and have
that conversation, that solution to that problem is always more
valid than one that is come up with in a silo to borrow a term.
Brett Bernard: Yeah. Any isolation that our, that our teachers had with
teaching prior to this grant, stopped day one.
And it wasn't always by choice because we had eyes
and ears watching us.
I mean, you know people from the state department.
School proof facilitators.
Principals, district leaders, they were there.
And they brought lots of friends with them.
So that stopped right away.
And it truly is probably the best thing that could
have happened.
Because it started building that comfort level of our teachers.
That, that I am no longer teaching in isolation.
The two areas that I have seen some of my teachers do some of
their best work at, as Kevin talked about is the data.
Looking at the student data together and analyzing that data
and coming up with action plans for the students.
Our teachers do some incredible work with that.
And the other piece is with planning.
One of things that our school improvement grant has let us do
as an elementary school we don't have an hour and a half or two
hours of planning every single day.
And so we use some of those funding to help give our
teachers you know half days to plan together.
And to develop great lesson plans together.
And that was a great resource for us.
And so that collaboration piece is one of the areas that has
been a strength of our school I think since as well.
Jason Snyder: That is great.
Kevin Gay: I would like to also add, just, it has been one of the greatest
professional learning experiences for me as an
educational leader.
The state of Kentucky through it's district 180,
helped support us.
And brought about a systems thinking way to look at this
as a system.
And I mean, I, I for years had learned about curriculum
instruction assessment, professional development,
all of the research based strategies that are out there.
And there are many that are meaningful within
school turn around.
But, you know, they have aligned their systems from the state
level all the way down and supported us.
And caused me, Mrs. Susan Allread (sp) to look at our
school as a system.
And how we, you know, and use the linkage chart, where do I as
a person fit in?
What can I do to improve that system?
Where do these resources through seeing your transformation fit
into our system?
Most effectively, where are we at?
And as an educational leader, I mean, that has been the biggest
change and the most professional learning that I have gained in
my whole career as a, as a principal.
Jason Snyder: That was a great thank you by the way to all of the state
leaders who are out here today.
Kevin Gay: Absolutely.
Jason Snyder: Thanks, Kevin.
Anybody else want to add on breaking down the isolation?
Kristen Hayes: Well, I just, this is my first year at Savoy Elementary and
coming into the school, meeting the administration, I really
didn't have a sense of isolation.
It is always been such a supportive environment in
terms of administration.
So going back to that being very key to the success of the
students as well as the teachers.
And through the School Improvement Grant we were
even allowed planning time over the summertime.
You know, so we were actually paid to come during the
summertime and to do some extra planning and collaborating.
So it is, it has provided that opportunity, and it, it is -- we
already have, we have developed an environment
that is very collaborative.
So I think it is working.
Jason Snyder: Let me ask you two more questions here.
One more is about, there are a lot of people out there.
There is a lot of money behind this.
There is a lot of effort and a lot of work.
There is a lot of time and resources going into
it right now.
How do you know that your work is being successful?
How do you know it is working?
Yeah, Brett.
Brett Bernard: I will speak to a few things.
Student -- the assessment scores, we have seen incredible
growth at our school.
40, you know, 40 percent more of our kids are scoring proficient
than they were two years ago.
In such a short amount of time.
Now, that is the bottom line measure for us to take
a look at.
Going into classrooms and seeing the things that are taking place
at our school is so much different than it was two
years ago.
To see the innovative things that the kids are using with
technology and the differentiation that
is taking place and the different opportunities that
our kids have to, to demonstrate their learning is amazing to see.
You know, I spoke earlier I think to our parent of law, but
we lost 40 percent of our kids our first year of being called a
turn around school.
And to see within a year, every single one of those kids back
and then more, was --
Jason Snyder: Your enrollment jumped.
Brett Bernard: Our enrollment jumped and we were looking for extra teachers.
And, you know, by January, word of mouth is out there that we
are succeeding and our community is spreading that word.
Jason Snyder: People voting with their feet.
Brett Bernard: Yes. Yeah, exactly.
Jason Snyder: That is incredible.
Kristen Hayes: We have also seen an increase in math and reading scores this
past year.
Working with the arts integration through the turn
around arts program with the President's Committee on the
Arts and Humanities.
So that as well as from what I understand a big jump in
productivity and enthusiasm through the kids where the
environment the previous year wasn't as enthusiastic, I think
we definitely excelled in that area.
Edward Wiest: I can, I can say a couple of things.
I was conversing earlier before this conference here with some
of the other teachers.
And I am a math teacher.
But one thing that our school did and we are quite
early into this.
This is only our second year into this turn around.
But one thing that we have seen already is in our reading
scores, we -- and again I hate to put percentages out there
being a math teacher, because I am not positive of this.
But I am pretty sure.
Pretty sure that probably over 50 percent of our kids were in a
remedial reading program.
And I know for a fact that we have dropped well down.
And again I can give you percentages.
If I had known that I was going to be expected to give you a
percentage, I would give you an exact percentage.
But I am, I am pretty sure that we are well under from 50 to
well under 20 percent of our kids are now in some kind of a
remedial program.
That means we have taken 30 percent of our kids and moved
them up in the reading levels.
Another thing I think is, we can talk about scores.
But I think you know also from surveys and talking to the
students that you get a lot of feedback on positiveness that,
that comes back from the students themselves and how they
feel about the school, how they feel about themselves, and how
they feel about success.
What they think about the future.
All of those to me are very indicative of, of, of what kind
of positive changes are happening in our school.
Kevin Gay: Yeah, and I think that we do a quarterly reporting
process of course.
And we are looking at so many different points of data.
Which is, keeps us, you know, keeps us focused on
what is important.
But just to shout out to Leslie County High School in 2009,
we only had 15 percent of our students going proficient or
distinguished in math and about 40 percent in reading
and language Arts.
And last year we had 53 percent of our students scoring
proficient or distinguished in math, and 83 percent of our
students in language arts and reading.
And our high school was in the top ten percent of the state of
Kentucky of college and career readiness gains from
16 to 42 percent.
So we are looking at multiple levels of data.
Not just you know graduation rate and I think, I think that
is what is very important.
David Romick: That is an interesting question for me in particular as a union
official rather than somebody who is affiliated with a
particular school.
Being the President of the Dayton Education Association we
have about 1180 members spread across 30 different work sites,
most of those school buildings.
And when you ask me how I know that turn around efforts are
working, of course, I can look at, at data and report cards and
so forth and so on.
But there certainly is more to it than that.
And I think from, from a bigger picture perspective,
the conversations that are going on in buildings and in our
district, and between and among groups of people that used to
not have those conversations, let alone any conversation at
all probably, is a sign to me that this is working.
I pay the requisite amount of attention to test scores and
report card data, because that is important.
But again, as a union official, I am advocating for teachers to
allow them to provide the best learning conditions
for their students.
So, so it is almost a layered look at things
that I have to do.
And transformation allowing those conversations to have
place, allowing those relationships to form and get
deeper and more productive and better is, is certainly a sign
to me that our efforts are working.
Jason Snyder: So one last question here and then we'll -- one last question
here and we'll wrap up.
Let me just say that, I mean it is incredible the stories that
we are hearing here today.
And there, there has been a lot of naysayers out there that say
that turn around can't happen, that these schools won't improve
no matter what kind of resources, no matter what
kind of effort we put into it.
And what we are seeing from these two panels and the
discussions that we have had over the last two days is that
you are all proving what is really possible.
And that turn around can happen.
And I, I would like since you have gone through it, I would
like to end on this question.
What advice would you give to a new teacher or a principal
joining a turn around school for the first time?
Kevin Gay: I think I kind of shared about the systems approach of course,
but I think creating a collaborative vision is
the most important guiding thing that you have to do.
And that takes surveying all stakeholders and we ask our
students you know what their beliefs was.
And if you would compare them to research based practices and
what our students said in 2010, they could have written books
about best practice.
And so, you know, our beliefs statements and our vision of
what we want our school to look like in the future, I think that
is, that is key.
And then creating systems and processes around that vision to
get there.
And it is going to be different for different schools.
But I think that will be the biggest advice I could give.
Brett Bernard: And I would, I would echo that.
That shared vision is critical.
You know we look at this school turn around as an opportunity.
What an opportunity for us to show them what great teachers we
are, what great students we have.
You know, Lusia and I are up here as these champions of
change but we are just representatives of what
our teachers did.
And, you know, these are the people that, that did the work
on the ground floor and have made this all happen
for our kids.
And so making sure you believe in your teachers, because they
are capable of incredible things and they surprise me everyday of
what a great job they do.
And it is incredibly impressive to go watch and into the
classrooms to watch the work they do.
So believe in them and then believe in your kids.
And you know we have seen such turn around in our kids and they
are capable of so many things.
Just believe in them and you know, they will do nothing but
surpass your expectations.
David Romick: I think my advice to a new teacher would be first of all
fasten your seat belt.
Things move quickly and you need to be prepared.
The other piece of advice really is very simple.
Keep your eyes and ears open.
If you are watching what people are doing around you
and listening to what people are talking about around you, then
you are going to assimilate into that culture more easily than,
than you would again if you were self focused more of self
directed and into that teaching in isolation model that has been
popular not too many years back.
So yeah, keep your eyes open and fasten your seat belt.
Jason Snyder: Anybody else?
Edward Wiest: Go ahead.
Lusia Requenes: I am sorry. Just very briefly.
I would say start with the tone of the environment.
Start with the tone of the environment.
Look at, you know, we talk about at Savoy, order,
purpose and respect.
You know, having that mutual respect for students, faculty,
administration, ensuring that when the students walk in, they
feel welcome.
They feel invited.
And they are there for a purpose.
You know, they are not just there to spend seven hours
a day you know walking around the schools.
But, you know, you are there for a purpose.
And we are here to support you in any way possible.
Edward Wiest: I just wanted to add.
You know, I just went to my daughter's graduation and the
moderator was, he was sharing how he is nervous just to stand
up in front of everybody and you know introduce everybody and do
all of these different things and he was making a big fuss
about it.
And finally his wife said to him, you know,
it is not about you.
It is about the kids.
And I think when if somebody is coming into your school, that is
what you need to tell them.
This isn't about you.
This is about the kids.
And what are we going to do to get everybody involved with
success for our kids?
Jason Snyder: Anyone else? Okay.
Well, thank you everyone.
This has been very inspiring to hear all of your stories.
And Ed and Brett and Lusia, I have had a chance to see your
kids, and they are inspiring as well too in large part because
of the work that you are doing.
They feel very much involved.
And I know that is the case.
Very much involved and very much engaged and very much pushed.
That is the word we hear from kids all of the time, I am being
pushed more.
And I know that is the case in all of your schools.
So let's give them all a big round of applause.
Kyle Lierman: Actually, before I get started, Jason, I know a lot of folks on
your team worked on the event today.
If you wouldn't want to just give them a shout out and have
them stand.
Jason Snyder: Yeah, I appreciate that.
If the whole Office of School Turn Around could stand up and
-- that would be great.
Give them a big round of applause.
And Kyle, just one more big thanks to all of our SE, SEA
State Turn Around leaders who are here today and have been
willing participants in a great two day conference in a peer to
peer effort to help support each other in the really challenging
work that we are doing around turn arounds.
Great big of applause for you.
Thank you very much.
Kyle Lierman: Great. Thank you, Jason.
And big thanks again to especially to Tina and
to Mike Lamb.
Tina, her last day is Friday.
It is unfortunate that she is leaving
the administration family.
But we are happy to send her off with a nice Champions event.
So I just want to end today with an ask for all of you.
And that ask is that you share your story of being here today
and you tell your story about all of the work that you do and
about the work of these Champions Of Change.
You know tweet about it, Facebook about it, email your
friends and your colleagues when you get home.
Hash tag WH champs.
But there are three reasons that I, that I ask all of you to tell
your story.
When you are here in Washington and when you go back home.
The first of which is, I am sure all of you heard
a new idea today.
These champions are champions for a reason.
They are doing incredible work in their communities.
And the way that good ideas spread is through our networks,
through our colleagues, through our friends,
through our families.
And we want good ideas to spread across the country and we want
the story of these champions and all of the work that all of you
do to spread far and wide.
The second reason is that there is a debate going on
in Washington and across the country that I am sure many of
you hear quite a lot about.
And the best way to make this debate real is not
here in Washington.
It is about making the stories local across the country.
And making sure that we keep and fund and make a priority
programs like school turn arounds and like education
funding and making that story local.
Your voice is being heard across the country.
Your voices are the most important ones in this debate.
So making sure you get the word out about that as well.
And then third of which is that I think we can all agree no
matter what side of the political divide we are on,
that we need more Champions Of Change.
We need more folks like the people we are honoring
here today.
And we need people to be inspired across the country.
And we hope that when you tell the story, of what you saw here
today, when you talk about these Champions Of Change and the work
that they are doing across the country and in their communities
that we inspire one or two or ten or 20 more folks across the
country to take up the work and get, get down to work in the
communities just like our champions are doing here today.
So that is what -- that is what my ask is of all of you.
Thank you all for coming.
And let's give one more round of applause for our
Champions Of Change.
Thank you very much.