Leaders To Learn From 2017: Recognizing Exceptional School District Leaders
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Leaders To Learn From 2017: Recognizing Exceptional School District Leaders

– Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Please make your way to a seat. We’re gonna be starting the
program in just a few moments. Hello and welcome to
Leaders to Learn From 2017. I’m Matthew Sabellas. I’m the managing director here for live and virtual events here on Education Week. And before we kick off what we believe would be
an educational, unique, and immersive experience today, I’d like to make a few housekeeping notes. If you could bring us to
the Wi-Fi information slide, that would be great. To access the Wi-Fi today, please follow the steps you
see on the slide before you. If you have any trouble with this, the red P folks at the reg desk may have further information
about how to manage the Wi-Fi. Please connect, if you can go back to
the last slide for me, please connect using the group’s
ID: Mayflower Conference, and you enter the password
that you see on the screen: Leaders2017, That’s leaders with a capital L. We think it’s case-sensitive. There is no space between
the leaders in the year. Just type it as you see on the screen. Education Week constantly seeks to improve our live event quality. Does everybody have these on their table? These should have come in your programs today. These are your evals for the event. And many of you go, “Oh, eval. I don’t want to do that.” This is actually very important. This was critical in forming the day that you’re about to
experience here today. And so we need your
feedback throughout the day. The other way to give us your feedback is with the URL you see there. So if you’re on your phone and you’d rather do
your eval through there, it’s leaders.edweek.org2017eval. Since you’re on your phone already, you’re doing the evaluations already, telling us how happy you
are with the breakfast. I want to encourage you all to also go to your twitter handle and use the hashtag leaders to learn from. You’ll see that on the bottom
of each of the slides today and we want you to be
letting your colleagues know that you were here when it all went down. For those of you on Instagram, we also want to encourage you to give us a follow if you would at Ed Week events. (clears throat) We’ll be uploading pictures throughout the day of all of you, so I’m sure there’ll be photos
of you up there as well. We have an exciting agenda today, as you’ll see on the screen here, full of learning,
leadership, and networking. That will be happening in this room, but also for those here, you are being moved to the second floor. So anybody who went to
the meet ups yesterday… How many of you all went
to the meet ups yesterday? Did you get out there? Great, so you know where
you’re headed, right? So at 10:20, you are gonna be able to do it with the folks that are on livestream and are not able to do, and you’re going back
up to the second floor where you’ll be able to spend time breaking down some of the content with our leaders to learn from. For our audience and
members of the live stream, you are going to have
the opportunity to enjoy a unique meet up with Gail
Plattnick from Yesterday. She’s one of our leader alumni, who spoke at Hers and many of the attendees here, as you just saw, were able to meet with her, learn together, and network with her. As you have already seen
on the screen here as well, we have a digital networking guide that’s downloadable for you right now. It’s at leaders.edweek.org2017guide. On the screen, you’ll see that URL and it’s there that you will
see the names, the headshot, and the titles of those
here in attendance, that includes some of our
75 leaders to learn from that we’ve had over the past five years. Some of those leaders are
here in the room today. If you are a Leader to Learn From alumni, it would be great if
you could take a stand. We would like to recognize you. (audience clapping) If everyone would join
me in welcoming back these leaders to Leader to Learn From. During our networking
breaks throughout the day, you’re gonna have the
opportunity to network with these alumni folk, as well as your fellow
colleagues here in the room. And later at 4:00 p.m., you’re gonna have the chance
to hear from some of them about their district leadership successes, which will include
superintendent Mary Ronan of Cincinnati Public Schools. She’ll be speaking about her school turnaround strategy there. You also have the chance to
be with Christopher Chapman. You’ll hear about Christopher Chapman’s equity work that he’s doing at Oakland Unified School
District in Oakland, California. And you’ll be able to hear
from Superintendent Steve Webb and his chief of staff Tom Hagley from Vancouver Public Schools, who will be exploring their
community school’s program. But before we dive deeply into the content of this day with you, I’d like to now take a
moment to thank our sponsors. Without the support of
companies like these, this event and so many of Education Week’s other outstanding events would simply not be possible. This day we’re gonna
be doing something new and we’re really excited
about having the opportunity to bring you some of their
industry perspectives here with you today. When I call out your company’s name, if you are here representing your company, I hope you’ll please stand
so we can recognize you, know where your seating and so
we can circle back with you. Today’s Diamond sponsors are Renaissance, we have Scholastic, Achieve 3000, and today’s Welcome Reception sponsor is Waterford Institute. There we go. Today’s Keynote sponsor is
Walton Family Foundation and today’s Event
sponsor is It’s Learning. The live stream sponsor, thank you so much for live stream as well, Rosetta Stone. I also like to take a moment to thank our returning sponsors. We want to give a special
thanks to Renaissance, Scholastic and It’s Learning who’ve been supporting this important work for multiple years now. Today’s event would not be possible without the support of the sponsors. Thank you so much for all of you. And with that, your day begins. (audience clapping) (energetic piano music) – The great calling of the public schools is to teach all children, our very future as an education community turns on our willingness to adjust how we deliver instruction. – [Female] We are here to serve. Whatever it is that our
community, our teachers, our parents, and especially
our students need, it’s our job to get it to them. – I’ve always believed that education is the only saving grace for anyone, black, white, green, whatever. – The work that we are
called to do as educators is very difficult work and it’s not work that
can be done individually. – The best way to advance progress is to reach outside of your classroom. – We can overcome any obstacle if we commit to doing it one relationship at a time. – We live in an age of transition, without question. As fundamental as this sounds, it’s absolutely essential to keep your focus on the
needs of each and every child. – [Female] Educators must
step up and be shapers. – I know until I close my
eyes and take my last breath, that how far we’ve come is not far enough. – Good morning and
welcome to Washington, DC, and to the 2017 live version
of Leaders to Learn From. This is our fifth year now of spotlighting the best and brightest K-12 leadership in the United States. I’m Leslie Maxwell. I am an assistant managing
editor at Education Week and I’m the executive project editor for Leaders to Learn From. Over many months, it has been my privilege to
get to know the amazing stories of the 14 leaders you’re
going to meet here today. After pouring over hundreds of nominations that came in from our readers
and our Ed Week audience, our reporters and our
team narrowed down a list and went out and did some
deep vetting and interviewing of lots of folks and we got down to this amazing
select group of educators who are demonstrating committed leadership to their districts, to their students, to the educators that work with them, and to their communities. So today I’m so proud to
introduce you to these leaders. What’s especially striking
about this year’s class is they all have what I
call a powerful combination of tenacity and humility. Regardless of their areas of expertise, these leaders are all single-minded about improving the lives of the students and the
communities that they serve. But perhaps more importantly, they know they are part of an enterprise that is much bigger that they are. They understand that it takes a committed team of players to succeed. They’re not afraid to turn to teachers to seek their advice and insight. They ask parents for help. They tap students for their ideas and they reach out to a
whole range of partners all for the benefit of children. Many of you have already met some of our leaders this morning during the networking breakfast, but if you haven’t, not to worry. You’ll have lots of opportunities throughout the day to engage with them, including during our
Follow the Leader sessions later in the agenda. So I invite you to settle in and soak in the experience, the wisdom, and the insights that we’re gonna learn from these remarkable people today. But first to tell you a little
bit more about Education Week and this singular special report and event that we have created, I would like to introduce
our host for the day, Michelle Givens, who is our president and CEO of the editorial projects in education, the publisher of Education Week, Michelle. (audience clapping) – Good morning! How many of you are first timers to this Leaders to Learn From event? Wow. Well, welcome, and I’m gonna let you
in on a little secret, and this is particularly for those of you who I see sitting here with
a cup of coffee in your hand and you’re waiting for
that caffeine to kick in. Once you’re through with all
of these introductory remarks and the program really get started, you’re not gonna need caffeine. In fact, I’m not even sure why Ed Week
is paying for that coffee. (audience laughing)
How dare (sniffles). This year’s leaders will naturally pump up your adrenaline, boost your mood, and increase your energy level as they describe ways that their work can be a model for your
district leadership. At Ed Week, we created Leaders to Learn From because our non-profit mission is to inform and inspire positive
change in K-12 education. The leaders that you’ll meet today and the lessons that they’ll share will definitely inform and inspire you. They are among the best and brightest school district leaders
in the United States. These leaders and their work are real and very practical example of individual public educators capacity for supporting students,
families, and community. They’re also a powerful counter to the sometimes negative narrative about our
nation’s public schools. Their leadership takes many forms. For instance, we have a superintendent
and a school psychologist who are casting a wider and deeper net for student giftedness in
their Florida district. You’ll also need a superintendent who committed to leading one of the most economically destressed school
districts in the country, only to be hit with a water crisis in his first month on the job. Not once has he used the
crisis as an excuse for himself or his team of educators to let up on improving the teaching and learning for students. You’ll also hear from a career and technical education director and two of his students about how a veterinary sciences program is transforming a community
in the Navajo nation. As you’re hearing these stories, if you’re a Twitter user, as Matthew said, I hope you’ll think about sharing them using the hashtag, leaders to learn from. I have one final thought for you before we move on. Everyone who’s ever taken
a shower has an idea. It’s the person who
gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference. Leadership is an action, it’s not a position. Whether you’re in the audience today or joining us via live stream, remember that a year ago today’s Leaders to Learn From are where you are today, they were reading and learning about last year’s class of leaders. Today you’re a reader, but perhaps tomorrow you
will be one of our leaders. Thank you (sniffles). (audience clapping)
All right. So now let’s get down to business. So onto our favorite part of the day, and that is of course introducing you to all of Education Week’s 2017 Leaders to Learn From and recognizing each of them for their outstanding contributions to their schools, students,
parents, and communities. – What we don’t have access to as easily for families
and students that we serve is more accessible in
suburban areas or urban areas. So the teacher leadership
system in central Decatur has been instrumental in terms of allowing teachers to break down the silos that we sometimes operate in or break down the classroom walls. – Normally, they’re the student standards of what students need to learn. A teacher leader is a person who guides and supports
teachers in their learning, supports them in the classroom to help students and to guide
them in their instruction and overall look at data and figure out what our
strengths and needs are so that we can set goals and accomplish them. Some gains that we’ve
seen in student growth is their fluency rate. Our state kind of really focused on the rate that students are reading. So we’ve been really progress monitoring and tracking students so then that would also hopefully impact their comprehension. – Previously teachers
where pretty isolated. Everybody was focused on their one thing within their subject or
within their content area and now it’s much more holistic and that teachers are working together and it’s in a really purposeful way. So teachers time is valued, but they’re also gaining
skills that they know when they take it back to their classroom that students need. – One of the edges of
the smaller education is the fact that you are able to receive more personalized service. By knowing who the kids are and creating these
relationships with them, I think that you are able to create an even better
environment for them to flourish. A lot of our families
have chosen to be here and we want them to receive
the same type of education at central Decatur that they
would receive anywhere else. And that’s always been
I think the heart of the work that we do and the reason that we’ve
chosen to move forward with teacher leadership. – Building up a teacher workforce
anywhere can be difficult, but small-town Iowa has presented Chris a variety of unique challenges. He has worked tirelessly
to recruit, retain, and improve the practice of
teachers who might otherwise be drawn to bigger cities
and bigger salaries. Chris, please come join
me here at the podium. (audience clapping) It’s now my pleasure to welcome staff member Michele Molner and superintendent Patricia Deklotz, Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine
school district to the stage. (audience clapping) – Good morning everyone. Thank you for being here and especially thank you to
Pat Deklotz for joining us. She’s being recognized
today for innovation as the superintendent of
Kettle Moraine school district. Innovation in the sense
that for the past decade she has led a
personalized-learning journey through the wild of personalized learning and really had lots of lessons to learn that she shared with us. So I’ve had the opportunity to go visit. When I got there, Pat said, “Well, you know, “we get like maybe 100 leaders, “200, 300 a year.” So when you have so many educators coming, what are they asking you? What’s the biggest question? First question they ask you? – First question usually is how and I would tell you that there isn’t one answer to that question. It’s really firm that I’m a belief of the educators in the district and empowering them to be
part of the problem solving. We talk about top-down support from the bottom-up innovation and all of the good work that’s
occurring in our district is based on the work of our educators. It’s not like I’m the
brilliant one in the group, but I do know great
education, great teaching, and them making it happen. – So often you tell them that the first thing they should be ask… It’s not so much how, but why. – Right, always start with the why. – And what was your why? – Our why really started back in 2005 when the board in a budget meeting deliberated five multi
awards on how to cut budgets. Out of the blue a board member said, “Well, I move recharge administration.” Have any of you heard that word? Right. “I move recharge administration “to transfer my
educational delivery system “to better and more efficiently meet “the needs of all students. “Second? “Any question? “All in favor?” Seven unanimous votes and
I’m like, “What happened?” and I’d like to say though what’s the new Transformation
for Dummies book out there and we really didn’t know how to start. But we engaged our community through a suh-meh-ree-ya planning process and we have been on that quest and I often thank my Board
for giving that charge to transform because there is so much
in this 21st century that’s different from
the way we were educated. And to be given that charge
to make it look different, to make it something that’s… We talk about the difference between remodeling and redecorating. Redecorating is pretty cheap,
easy, and it looks fresh. Remodeling is messy and dirty and usually you get in a fight with
someone over it then by the time you’re done, it looks different. We are embracing that charge to transform and when you come into our district, you see learning that looks different. – So tell me what you would see coming to your district? I know I saw kids who were very self-directed in their learning. You wanna give a couple snapshots? – We felt like we needed to move from education that’s compliance based to education that’s agency based. And when you personalize
learning for students you recognize them as individuals. So you’re not teaching to the middle. You’re teaching to each individual through small groups,
through collaboration, through student’s agency in solving real-world problems, whether you’re talking
about a kindergarten class solving that problem or an AP physics class
solving that problem. It’s very much focused on
engagement and student agency. – And you’re a big believer in data. You like data, you like to use
data in your decision-making. Do you want to give us an example of that? – Sure. We have, as I’m sure many of you have, district and school goals that are broken down into 100-day plans and we monitor those 100-day plans on a monthly or semi-monthly basis to make sure that we’re on
track to accomplish the goal, the 100-day plan. If we’re not making progress, we have immediate conversations and at times we change our direction. So it’s a constant monitoring, not just of academic growth, but also the social and
emotional indicators that what we’re doing is having an impact. Student voice is as
important as teacher voice as we do the work that we do. – And you decided to introduce
the OECD test for schools which is part of the PISA program and because you wanted your
students to measure up. So, could you explain that
decision for us please? – Sure and I would encourage
all of you to look into that. One of the things that I
think is a real hindrance to American public education, is the fact that we’ve been painting with a brush
that says we’re failing. We are educating kids who will compete in a global society, I don’t care what state in our nation. You will be competing, you will be living in a global society. So it’s really important
to us that we have data that says what we’re doing was right, not just because it felt good, but because we could deliver results. So the OECD test for schools allows us as a district to
benchmark our high schools against some international standard. Our comprehensive high school compares with Finland, Germany, Canada very well respected education systems. But the very interesting piece of data is that our charter schools, our high school’s health science, and most importantly, our Performing Arts Academy, is ranked right up there with Singapore, second to Shanghai. A performing arts school is not known for math and science and these students are so
engaged in their learning that their achievement scores are there. But more importantly when you look at their learning climate, their agency and efficacy in the work that they’re doing, it is off the charts. Now we are looking for longitudinal data, it’s our fourth year of
doing the assessment, and we believe that with that data, people would want to know more about how to bring that to their districts. – So the biggest misconception
in our last seconds about personalized learning? We have about half a minute. – The biggest misconception in my mind is people think it’s a box or a thing and there’s no one definition
for personalized learning. It doesn’t look the same in classrooms across my district. It’s really important to recognize if you’re personalizing, you have to take context
into consideration. So what might work in Flint, Michigan, might look very differently in my district and that’s okay. You have to empower the
educators and the students if you really want to
personalize learning. It has to reflect that
voice, choice, path, pace and place. – Very good. Please join me in
thanking Patricia Deklotz. (audience clapping) – Superintendent Deklotz
instills a culture of personalized learning in which students choose how and what they learn and teachers create their
own micro credentials to advance their careers. For her, being a leader in K-12 means helping both teachers and students achieve their fullest potential by working the levers
of individual motivation and inspiration. Pat, please come join
me here at the podium. (audience clapping) – Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. (car engine running) – I knew coming in that I was going to be a part of a heavy lift. But this was something that none of us saw coming. The question becomes “Okay, you have a crisis. “So do you just kind of
put your goals to the side “and deal with crisis? “or do you figure out
a way to manage crisis “and still move the work forward?” At that time I was away at a conference here in Michigan. There was a press conference where the medical community
shared on some data, some very alarming data, as it relates to children
in (mumbles) levels. Immediately I’m in shock, like, “Okay, that’s serious.” And so that press conference was held, I wanna say maybe a Wednesday
of that particular week, and by Friday, I made the decision that the students of Flint
community schools will not, I repeat, will not consume the water. You had so many folks who approach you, they’d be saying, “What are you going to do? “So what you wanna do? “What is your plan? “What is your plan?” I tell people, even with a crisis like one
that we’re facing here in Flint, we only have one year to
get it right for a child and I’m sorry. I can’t look at a child and say, “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to educate you “that year because we were
dealing with the water crisis.” That’s not a fair excuse. So I had to maintain a laser-like focus and keep this district focused on what mattered most and would always would matter and that’s teaching environment. You know when you hear Flint, you automatically think, “Oh my God, the water-crisis city.” And we here in Flint, we do not want the water
crisis to define us. It still is a little alarming to me to have to go into a room and see bottled water
sitting at a child’s desk or a stack of bottled water in the corner because it shouldn’t happen and it’s such a basic need. It’s so basic, but we’re moving forward as a community, as a school district. We are focused at what
we have control over and that’s making sure we have a very strong system that’s able to meet the
needs of all these children. – Amidst Flint, Michigan’s water crisis, School’s Chief Tawwab
refused to use the emergency as an excuse from keeping
his team of educators focused on improving student achievement in a long struggling school district. This superintendent maintains a mantra of stay calm, keep focused
on teaching the students, and set clear goals and
relentlessly pursue them in the face of diversity. Bilal, please join me here at the podium. (audience clapping) All right. Please join me in welcoming to the stage staff writer Darrell Burnett and Sharon Griffin, the Chief of Schools in
the Shelby County Schools in Memphis, Tennessee. (audience clapping) – Good morning. So I’m Darrell Burnett. I have the privilege of covering Doctor Griffin for two years and she had the most personality of any administrator
that I’ve ever covered in my life 10-year career
as a journalist, so. I was actually kind of excited to see some of your nominations coming from the district. So Doctor Griffin, you’ve had one of the fastest turnaround efforts in Tennessee. I’ll just start really simply, how did you do it? – Well, first, I think it’s important that whether you believe
you can or you can’t, you’re right. So the first thing that
we really focused on was an unwavering belief that the work was even possible. So that meant like us performing in our
district like none other. We had to actually create
profiles for schools. And instead of just hiring
principals based on are they elementary, middle or high school, we hire principals based on the need and if a person did not fit the needs of that school
to their experiences or even their expertise, we didn’t hire them. The second piece was we allow principals after they were hired and the need was met to hire every single
teacher in the school. We make sure to communicate that early so that teachers won’t be surprised. A turnaround work is difficult and that they knew what to expect going in to the situations. The third piece was we knew that we could not hire all level five teachers, which is the highest mark in our district. So we hire (mumbles) coaches
at the district level. So all of our teachers get the opportunity to be coached by an expert in their field. So before we get test
results in the spring, we were able to go in on a bi-weekly basis to support our teachers where we identify deficits. And fourth is partnerships. Many of our schools in
turnaround situations, they had kids who had
suffered extreme trauma just through property alone. They had witnessed things
that were catastrophic and so we needed some
social and emotional support within our schools. So before we even taught
Math or English or Science, we made sure that all
for students basic needs and even their social and
emotional needs were met. As a result, we have 21 schools right now and 11 of the 21 schools
have made double-digit gains, so we’re excited. (audience clapping) – So as you know, under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the districts have much more flexibility with the expiration of the SIG grants to design their own turnaround work. So as districts sort of look at the
most struggling schools, what sorts of advice do you have for them? – Well mostly what I would say is I think student-based budget
allocations is gonna be huge. So many times we’ve used
the cookie-cutter approach that we think that what’s
best for one school is best for the other
186 schools in my case and in many instances
we duplicate services. And so we are not being good stewards over resources that we have just based on people are doing 10 different things 10 different ways. And so I think one of the
biggest pieces of advice I would have is to make sure that you take a good audit of
the services being provided, that you make sure that professional development for your teams are aligned and that you actually support your schools based on the needs of
the individual schools. – So you recently just got a promotion, Chief of Academics at
Shelby County Schools. Now that you are overseeing
several more schools, how do you plan on scaling
up some of the work that you did in the I zone and how do you plan on sort of sustaining some of the test score gains that you guys made? – Well what we’re seeing in the I zone has been our biggest
asset is human capital. We’ve poured a lot of
resources into people so that we can build
capacity at the school level. When we first started the I zone, there was an individual-coaching model where we coached individual teachers. And so it was possibly three to five days or even the next week before we could get back
in to see the teacher. The process of scaling aat up
to all of the other schools, we want to make sure that instead of impacting one teacher at a time, we impact one team at a time. And so all of our schools will now how instructional leadership teams and under teams there will
be content specific people that will actually be coached
by content-specific coaches at the district level. So now our teachers don’t have to wait. They can just go downstairs. So those people can come
upstairs, observe them, and give them actual real-time
feedback on a daily basis and so we know that’s
going to be more impactful then waiting a week or possibly two weeks. – I gotcha. So talk to me about parent engagement. So as you know, there’s a lot of mobility in Memphis and you’ve had some very honest conversations there in Memphis. Talk me through sort of what the importance of
parent engagement is and how you think of the role the parent has in Memphis. – Well, absolutely. I think first as district leaders, we have to be very honest
and transparent with parents. We have to really tell them
what we haven’t done as adults. And a lot of the issues
that we see with kids, it’s an adult issue. Because in my experience
with working with schools that have been under-performing you all, We didn’t pump the kids out. It’s the same kids who
are now higher performing. And so what I share to parents is hold us accountable. When your students receive high marks, As and Bs, ask for how he or she got that just like you would if it was a D or an F or a low-performing grade. And so in saying that, it kind of builds a bridge of trust because the parents in many
instances have not trusted us, and particularly when we were going into support schools
and takeover schools. And so just that honesty
and that transparency around what we were not doing. And then two, hold parents accountable as a parent and then offered some support to them has been quite beneficial. – So one of the things that fascinates me about Memphis is Doctor Hopson and you
are both from Memphis. And I’m wondering, I mean you taught and you were a principal at one of the schools that
was in turnaround status and then you also graduated
from one of the schools that was in the I zone. So talk to me about being a product of Shelby kind of schools and then leading some of the changes. What are some of the assets, what are some of the benefits, what are some of the insights that you had as a Memphian an outsider may not have. – Right. Well I think that Memphis
is a national proof point of what can happen when
you’re very deliberate to put the right people in front of kids. So I think we have to be
very transparent and honest to say that our district has changed and that the poverty that now exists, we have to change and address some needs socially and emotionally that when I was a student 30 years ago, we didn’t have to address. So I have to consistently say to people that English and Math and Science, all of those are important. But it’s been just as
important as a native Memphian to have a closed closet, to have a full pantry, to have the optometrist actually take time during the course of the day, come and check the eyes, have a dentist come because if children are
not physically well, they can’t learn. And so I think that has been a shift and even being from Memphis, being able to say that and then actually inviting people in, we have something that we do in the I zone that’s very different. We want to take you to the
most challenging classrooms. When you normally visit schools, we kind of matriculate
to the best teacher. The kids are well behaved. They can answer all the questions. But that’s not really
where we need the help. So we’re very delivered to
take guests and visitors to our most challenging classrooms. We want you to see where the needs are so that I can garner the
resource to make it happen. – We’re out of time. Please give a round of
applause to Doctor Griffin. (audience clapping) – Chief of Schools Griffin has led an urgent effort to turn around the academic performance of more than 20 low performing schools in Memphis. Sharon harnessed the right resources, empowered principals and
hired teams of educators who deeply understand
a school’s population, culture, and academic challenges. Sharon, please join me here at the podium. (audience clapping) – [Student] Today’s the
beginning of my destiny. – [Group] Today’s the
beginning of my destiny. – [Student] My future is bright. – [Group] My future is bright. – [Student] The world is depending on me. – [Group] The world is depending on me. – [Student] And I will not let them down. – [Group] And I will not let them down. – [Student] Today and every day. – [Group] Today and every day. – [Student] I am a Lion King. – [Group] I am a Lion King. – [Student] I am a Lion King. – [Group] I am a Lion King. – [Student] I am a Lion King. – [Group] I am a Lion King. – [Burke] Good morning. – My names Travis Buh-kahn-roo. – Nice to meet you. – Eminem, (mumbles). – Nice to meet you. What I noticed when you came
in and you shook my hand, everybody looked at me in the eye, you tell me who you were. He said something else. You might’ve said good morning
or welcome to Lakeview. It made me feel welcome. What? I appreciate what you’re doing. I’m impressed by it. I’m Burke Royster. I’m superintendent of
Greenville County Schools. This is my 37th year in education. Everything we do in our
business is people centered. (students chattering) Really, the roots of Ontrack Greenville, we’ll get back to a
conversation that I had with the leadership of
United Way several years ago. They adopted a philosophy
of cycle of success. And I was trying to break
the cycle of poverty by replacing it with a cycle of success. The highway 25 corridor is a challenge not just to Greenville County schools, but students that attend
schools in those areas have a lot of barriers to
being successful in school. – I was the kid who did
not like to read at all. So I have joined a (mumbles)
program in fourth grade and it had pushed me a lot to do what I was supposed to do. It pushed me a lot to read
and become a better reader. It expanded my vocabulary and it got me where I am now. Today is different because we never did this
barbershop (mumbles) before. So it’s like a lot of kids that’s part
of the (mumbles) program gets their haircut today. – [Interviewer] Do you like to read? – Yes. – [Interviewer] You do? – Yes, sir. – [Interviewer] You’re
expanding your vocabulary? That’s gonna help you when you
get ready to take your SAT. – We are not necessarily expert in social services. So it’s a chance for us to work with those people who are, those agencies and those
nonprofit organizations that can help those
students and their families remove those barriers that are impeding their success in school. – Well, let me get into
this business here. You’re never gonna be broke. Do you have Spanish in you? Yeah? – We have the ability to very, early on and quickly, identify those students that are being affected by those barriers. When you see that, when you look at our On track program, and you look at that initiative, when you look at the early warning system that looks at attendance,
and behavior, and grades, a team comes together in those schools that have the On track initiative and works to identify what those barriers are and then quickly referring them to the people sitting around the table that are expert in doing it. What’s wrong with the uniform? You can be different no
matter how you’re dressed. I’ve been fortunate in my career. I’ve enjoyed every job I’ve had and I like going to work every day and I hope that we’re able to prepare our students to have a life like that. – South Carolina’s
Greenville County schools Superintendent W. Burke Royster enlists a wide array of
partners to help keep students, particularly those in poor communities, engaged in school and
on track to graduate. He understands the depth of students needs and understands that the district alone can’t knock down all
the barriers to learning that many low-income students face. He wisely turned to community partners and together with his team of educators are tackling poor attendance,
raising achievement levels, and boosting graduation rates. Burke, please join me here on the stage. (audience clapping) – All right. Let me welcome to the stage contributing senior
writer, Michelle Davis, and Chief Equity Officer of the Jefferson County School District in Louisville, Kentucky, John Marshall. (audience clapping) – Good morning everyone. I know it’s kind of a cold and dreary Washington, DC, spring day. But the good news is we have a very fiery personality here to warm us up. John Marshall is the Chief Equity Officer for the Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky and it’s not a job that many
people have across the country. While there are many educators
who care about equity, who work on equity, I think it’s rare to have someone whose sole focus is equity and concerns about that among the student body at the cabinet level. Let me just tell you just a
little bit about John Marshall. He basically has spent his entire life in Jefferson County Public schools. He went all through school there. He graduated. He came back as a teacher. He’s worked his way up. His whole family is
basically working or studying at Jefferson County. So he’s clearly invested in the success of all the students there and he used to be one of those students. And because he has so much
confidence in his mission, he’s the person who has to
ask the difficult questions, the uncomfortable questions about why some groups of students are succeeding while other groups are falling behind. And those are questions that not everyone will always want to address or wants to talk about. So if you’ve read my story, you’ll know that one of the words you’ll hear from John a lot is unapologetic. So I want to start by asking you about what that word means to you in
terms of how you do your job. – So when I say unapologetic, it’s kind of something that I believe we have to stand in our purpose and when you stand in your purpose, there’s no need to
apologize when we’re talking about improving the outcomes for students. School systems throughout the nation have to get to a point where put a critical conversation in front of adult and
unapologetically say, “But what about this kid
that we’re not reaching? “What about this teacher
that needs more to help? “What about the parent on the other side of the tracks that we’ve left out?” And we unapologetically
present data to kind of under guard and strengthen
why we’re doing this work. So without apology, we’re going to have to get to that point because I think we have almost
apologized our way sometimes out of improving and reaching our kids. – You mentioned data earlier. I know that it’s not just about
your passion or your feeling that some kids are not being reached or some kids are not
achieving to their potential. You really focus heavily on data. Talk a little bit about that. – Yes, and of course
my team’s in the back, and so is my superintendent. I do have a lot of opinions, but I can’t push the opinions out. We have to go with what the data is. So when we talk about data
we have to understand that that is what we have to look at to prescribe and move things forward. There’s no point in saying that you are disproportionately suspending African-American males if we do not have the data to prove it. There is no point in talking about advance program participation
and the lack thereof if we don’t go with the data. The data in some instances alleviates a longer conversation
that we have to have. But at the same time, we all understand as
educators that are advocating, we can go with data and still have to explain it away, and away, and away. But without the data, again, there’s no point in
having a long discussion around an opinion. We have to take the data, we have to look at the data, and we have to use our skill
sets to move the data forward, especially in a district
the size of Louisville, 101,000 kids. I mean without the data, we’re just kinda just talking. – Well you created an equity scorecard that I think is very clear and just describe what you measure, some of the things that
you measure every year. – So the the equity scorecard, it’s on its second iteration. The equity scorecard, under the leadership of Doctor Hardens, actually put those conversations that we might not want to have. So we were talking about the cross-sections between race and poverty and we looked at it
from literacy, behavior, college and career readiness,
and culture and climate. So we took this equity scorecard, shared it to anyone that wants to see it, had community conversations around it. And then my other colleagues that have been on stage and on the video, talked about pulling the community in. There’s a different way to start having a conversation around, not with JPCS the school
system needs to do, but what Louisville, Kentucky needs to do, so when you expose an equity in a way and create a space where
it’s safe to talk about the inequities, it does a couple of things. It makes the district now
really have to own it, but it also makes the
community have to own it. One of the things I
really wish we could do as it relates to reporting, when we put out all of
our school report cards and the achievement of all the superintendents in the districts, I wish it would say
Louisville, Kentucky’s school or Louisville, Kentucky’s
achievement areas or achievement scores as opposed to Jefferson County Public Schools. So what the equity scorecard do was throw the inequities out
there, talk about them, and then we were told how
we going to address them. So over the four years, you were diligent about
some of those inequities and how we’ve moved them and we’ve made some great attempts and gains in some of those inequities. – One of the things when I
looked at this equity scorecard through reporting for my story, one of the things that I thought
was really kind of shocking was that black students reported less of a sense of belonging then English-language
learners in your district. What does that say to you? – It says that we have to… Simply put, it says
that we have to do more, and we can’t just put
that on the students. We have to look at our practices. We have to look at our biases. We have to look at our beliefs and we always have to have this high expectation of learning, but we can’t just say
that and then default to, “Yeah, but if they did this… “What if they came from that?,” or worse, “Because they’re poor…,” we can’t do that. So what that says to me, and what that says to the superintendent, our teams, and the district back there
is we have to do more. We have to put the students in the center of those conversations and we have to see why they feel that way. We can’t sit back and say, “Oh, shucks. I’m sorry you feel that way.” They are the client and we have to do more for those students. So our African-American students clearly, and most of our school district, need a lot more. But it’s not up to them to find it. It’s up to us to make
sure that they get it. – One of the things that I
think goes along with that is you’ve done a lot of work with teachers around some of these racial issues: how to best approach
African-American male students, how to approach certain
segments of students. Talk about your efforts in that area. – So we do this, now it’s kind of statewide, Equity Institute. We’ve signed the males of color resolution with some other districts have had and we actually put that conversation right in the center. And we talk about the differences and some strategy and how to reach students of color, students from poverty. And we really are intentional about how teachers, and
administrators, and parents, and educators reach out and
work with those students. Our equity institute
and our equity scorecard and our work around black male
achievement is unapologetic. It does come with some resistance. – I knew that word was gonna come out. – (laughs) It does come
with some resistance, but at the end of the day if we go back to the data, what else are we gonna do? So when we talk about these trainings and we talk about things we need to do, again, it’s not John’s opinions. We’re going on to the research and we’re talking about… Now we are using some of
the leaders in this room, some of the things they’ve done, but we’re putting it smack down in the center to talk about it. Our African-American students are going to be whatever it is we put in front of them. So we have to put the
best in front of them and make sure that they understand that they are not excluded. – I know these are complex. They’re not easy to address, these issues, and not everyone wants to
hear what you have to say. And again, these are not easy things to deal with. How do you approach the
community, the teachers, the school board when there’s controversy over some of the moves
that you wanna make? I mean one thing that comes to mind is you told me that there was
a group of Latino students who had tested just
underneath sort of the cutoff to move to advance courses and you made the decision, and with the district, to move quite a few of them
to the advanced courses. I mean what you say to a parent who has a white child who says, “I really like my kid to be
in the advance courses too “and they just missed the cutoff.” – So back to the part when
we’re talking about is are gifted and talented advanced program, advanced placement test. And we have a lot of students that were missing that test, whatever the test is, by two or three points. So we actually just got some community brokers in the neighborhood, not anyone suited and
booted in central office. We got people that they
respected and understood, broke down what it means to put them in these accelerated classes and said, “Now come along with this,
and let’s call these parents, “and let’s place them “inside the advance program. “And then we’ll put safety nets in there “to make sure that they move forward.” And in doing that, I think they are now seventh graders. The average of that cohort of our Latin ex-students is a 3.0. So what does that mean? It means when we have actually
have high expectations and we don’t resist and
fall back to status quo behaviors and practices, students can perform. So it’s really about access. The parents didn’t know
that they could appeal. The parents didn’t even
know what the test is that they were taking and then we said, “Test missed, out of the way. “Let’s just put them in there,” and they thrived. So when we talk about
why would you do that, again, let’s just go back to the data, why would we not? How do we not address this situation where it’s two or three point? Shame on us if we don’t
do something about that. – Well that goes to some of
the discussions we’ve had about the idea of equity versus a quality. Kind of describe your philosophy on that. – Equity to me is very simple. It’s giving students, and teachers, and anyone what they need. I mean everybody in this room can get a Huckleberry Finn book, a locker, and a right to ride a bus. But how our teachers
are going to make sure that that student through literature gets what he or she
needs to understand it? One of the travesties that I think sometimes happens to students is they’re not allowed to bring all of their richness into the door. Their culture and their understanding has to stop at the door and then we get to this very
monochromatic understanding of how we’re going to teach. So equity is finding a way for someone like me to understand that literature is a way in which
we can move things forward. But beyond that, it’s giving students what they need. It’s just putting students that belong in advance program in advance program, explain to parents that don’t quite understand how the Jefferson kind of approach
school system works and a place to understand it, it’s putting teachers in
a place to really teach differently. If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to always
get what we always get. – Great. I want to thank John Marshall for sharing his philosophies with us. (audience clapping) – In Kentucky’s Jefferson
County Public schools, John Marshall uses data to
unmask racial inequities and demand policy changes and support for students of color
and those who are poor. His job is to sometimes
ask uncomfortable questions and to confront issues about why some groups of students struggle while others thrive. John, please join me at the podium. (audience clapping) Now I’d like to welcome
Assistant Editor Andrew Ujifusa to the stage for a conversation
with Dolores Gonzalez, the Chief Program Officer
for IDEA Public Schools in South Texas. – Good morning everybody. There are two things that you should know about Dolores upfront. First, she is the first charter network leader that we have honored at Education Week. The second thing you should know (sighs) is that she originally went to college to be a psychologist, but she changed her mind when she saw the movie
Silence of the Lambs. (audience laughing) So I’ve asked the hotel
to take the fava beans and the nice Chianti off the lunch menu. (Dolores laughing) So you told me that if
you were Queen for a day, you would have every district
have a pre-K program. That’s one of the two big
initiatives that you started with IDEA Charter Schools a few years ago. But it sounds nice when you just say it, but what were the challenges
that you encountered when you started setting
up your pre-K program, particularly with the
demographics you have and what kind of results you’ve seen? – Yeah, so. We found that our incoming kindergartners for the past several years, anywhere between 40 and 60%
depending on the school, kids were coming in not
even ready for kindergarten. They had this zero-literacy
skills or numeracy skills and to eliminate the
achievement gap from the get go, I knew that we had to do something. So we piloted pre-K. It’s a half day program
which proved many challenges. Several other schools offer full day pre-K and since charters are choice, we had to do a lot of thinking about what all the
barriers were for families so we could put solutions into place. One of the things we had
do you think about was where are kids gonna go
with their p.m. student and the parent works all day long? They can’t leave in the middle of the day to come transport their child. So we reached out to communities,
boys and girls clubs, childcare development centers and created these partnerships with them where when we went to
share this with parents, we could say, “Here is the solution. “We’ve already thought of that for you “and we’ve negotiated a reduced
rate with these centers. “So you don’t have to pay “hundreds and hundreds
of dollars for childcare, “when we’re already
serving 86% of our students “are from low-income families.” So it’s an example of the
things we had to think about before they could sign up to come. – Yeah, and just talk a
little bit about the parents. This is new for a lot of them, weren’t sure what to expect when they’re sending the
kids to the pre-K program as you are starting at. How else did you have
to work with the parents and set their expectations? – Yes. So if you’ve ever experienced the first day of school with pre-K, there’s a lot of emotion that they. You have kids were really excited and you have kids who are really scared, lots of crying and
screaming in some cases, and parents are actually the same way. So,
(audience laughing) first day of school, I’m
always in the pre-K classrooms. So we decided after our first
year at one school on a pilot that we learned we have
to do summer-culture camp. So we had kids come in the summer, their parents came along with them. All of the crying and anxiety all happened before
the first day of school with a lot of the teachers and campus lead team around
to do a lot of support, live talking, a lot of reassuring that
as soon as parents leave, 10 minutes later they’re laughing and everything’s gonna be just fine. So we incorporated now summer-culture camp for a few weeks before the
first day of school starts, which has just eased a lot of anxiety and parents are more comfortable and kids are more confident when they walk through our doors. – What kind of results are you seeing now that you scaled up the program? I think it’s in its third year now? Are you seeing–
– Yes, so we’re on our third year. One of the principles just
emailed me on my first pilot. Those kids are on first grade right now and we have 98% of them who are going to end the first grade completely ready for second grade. We do this nationally normed assessment and some are well beyond
in the second grade ’cause we have our
personalized-learning approach where we teach kids where they’re at. So we’ve got first-graders already in our secondary curriculum and then we’ve got some
that are just about to complete and be on target, as compared to some of our other schools that do not have pre-K yet. They are probably in
the 60s to 70s right now of kids who are prepared for second grade. – So you’ve taken a lot
on your plate because your other big initiative that you started around the same time was at other end of the spectrum, your advance placement for
all program in high school. The first generation of the
family to go to college. What was your motivation? How did you come up with that idea and what if you had to work through to sort of implement that? Because that’s obviously a big challenge for the students as well as the teachers. – Yeah. So our AP (mumbles) program
started in year three and we have 100% of graduates complete 11 AP courses
before they graduate. That was mostly because
our alum are coming back, we stay very connected to them, who are telling us, “You did not make us read enough. “You did not make us right enough. “We were not ready.” So we decided to do an AP for all program, create these college-like experiences in a really safe and scaffolded place. But what that made us do is our teachers were always
exhausted at the end of the period and the kids are this, “Woah, this is a great bio class.” I’m just like, “This is a problem that teachers “are tired at the end of the period “and kids are not.” So I say if you are a teacher and you are tired at the end of the class and kids are not, there is something that needs to happen. So we really encourage and trained and brought in professional
development four our AP teachers to be facilitators of learning and really let the kids
do all of that work. So there’s a lot of pre-reading
before they come in. There’s a lot of peer tutoring going on. There is a lot of group work and socratic seminar where we have kids doing
a ton more thinking and the teachers just know
what great questions to ask. – So you’ve mentioned that
when you are starting out your career as administrator after working as a
special education teacher that your mindset was: I’m at the center of all these things. I’m the nucleus and
everything evolves around me. Your thinking has evolved a little bit. – Thank God. – In terms of your
leadership style, that idea, how would you say that’s evolved? – Yeah. So I did feel like I
had to know everything, and my colleagues, and
some of them are here, and my sister’s here, will all attest that. I got this little plaque in my office that I
bought for myself that says, micromanager
(audience laughing) and I just felt I had to know everything and I had to know it better than my lead team, better than teacher. And when I finally woke up, I finally realized five or six years ago that it was not gonna happen. I hired differently. I needed to hire people who were experts and knew more than I did and trust that they were
going to make those decisions and me and myself just
ask better questions. So we do a lot of collaborative work. We ask for feedback all the time. We ask for input. I do several topics. We just lock ourselves in an office and call them think tanks and allow ourselves to
color outside the lines to try to come up with multiple solutions and then pick the one that we feel is best as a team. – The think tanks, that would go over well
here in Washington. (Dolores chuckling) We are out of time. So please join me in
thanking Dolores Gonzalez. (audience clapping) – As the Head of Academic
Programs for IDEA Public Schools, Dolores Gonzalez is focused on erasing achievement gaps in the earliest years and putting all students on a firm footing to make it to college and to graduate. She has used the
experiences of IDEA alumni who struggled in college to make important changes
to the high school program so students feel more prepared and confident for higher education. Dolores, please join me here on the stage. (audience clapping) – People can’t fix what they can’t see and a lot of our families don’t know how to describe what they’re experiencing. I have an opportunity
that allows our staff and our school members to be able to harness that love that parents
have for their children and use it in a way that allows our schools to serve our
children more effectively. Part of today’s training
meeting it’s gonna be about how to help families
transition their kids from elementary to middle, middle to high. Federal Way School District is the most diverse in the entire state of Washington and the eighth largest
school district in the state. My role is to lead, train, supervise 23 family liaisons
in the elementary schools. The family liaisons go into the community and they build partnerships
and they provide parents with the information they need and build this bridge between
the staff, the schools, and the families, and the community. – They want their kids to go to where there’s the best program. – One thing that Trise
always tells us that we need to have that
relationship with these families so they can have that trust with you. Because when you have that trust, especially within the school, then it’s easier for
their kids to succeed. We are visible for our families. We can have platforms and pathways where they’re able to talk
about concerns that they have or ways that they can get involved. – Teachers say to me, now that I’m doing family
engagement as a strategy, I’m understanding how
to teach the students. The hope is that teachers
are from parents, parents learn from teachers, and children are able to learn from both. The ultimate goal is to ensure that our students are
graduating from high school with the hope for them to
have secondary education. – Well we have two fifth grade classes and they dress up like scientists and (mumbles). – Yeah. – Have served under four superintendents and when you ask how has family engagement stayed on the front burner, I can easily answer: when you empower parents, they speak up for themselves, they speak up for their children, they support teachers, they applaud principals, they applaud superintendents
that listen to them. The family voice, the voice that comes
from the love, the heart, the passion about their child, that voice has a place
in the education system. You made it very clear, “I’m a parent who has a voice. “I’ve been to these meetings before.” You can talk. My most memorable moments in this work is when I get to hear a parent say, “I realize how important my voice is, “how important my partnership is, “and how important it
is for my child to know “that I’m working with
them and their school “to ensure that they succeed.” That inspires me every day and in our district, it happens almost every day. – Trise Moore’s work as the Director of Equity
and Family Engagement helps turn a community of
parents and family members into their children’s primary
educators and advocates. Moore and her team have
reached out to parents who previously didn’t feel
comfortable at PTA meetings. Trise doesn’t just equip
parents with strategies to navigate a big school system, she puts parents at the center of the district’s decision-making. Trise, please join me at the podium. (audience clapping) Let me welcome to the stage Education Week Associate
Editor Catherine Gewertz, Clyde McBride, the Director of Career
and Technical Education at Kayenta School District in Arizona and two of his great students, Racquel Whitehair and Trevon Nasosi. This is the first time we’ve had students join
our leaders on stage. So please everyone give a warm round of
applause to these leaders. (audience clapping) – I had the privilege to go to the northeastern corner of Arizona to Monument Valley High
School in Navajo nation to meet these people and
find out about their program, to meet Clyde, and Racquel and Trevon were two of the many students I met there. So let me just describe what
this program looks like. It’s an ordinary-looking high school, but it’s got a very not-ordinary $2.5 million-dollar
agricultural sciences building that Clyde dreamed of for many years and pushed very hard for
before it became a reality. It’s a classroom, it’s a working-community clinic. I watched little goats come in, nervous chihuahuas, bulls, horses, they all flow in and out all day long and these students are
taking care of those animals. I also went along with a
bunch of Clyde’s students when they rode a bus out to
a neighbor’s ranch one day and vaccinated a bunch of animals. These kids, they tackled the animals, they did the injections, they did everything they had to do there. They are tough, they are
smart, they are on it. So they’re gonna do great
things in the world. But even more important than that, the sense of relevance to the community in helping serve this
community and its animals, the students in Clyde’s program out-achieve students
in Arizona in general. They outscore them on tests. 100% graduate from high school, 3/4 go on to college or training, the rest go to work. So there’s some amazing outcomes that comes with some very
relevant community-based work these folks are doing. So thank you for coming. I’m done talking now, I
wanna asking something. Trevon, I first met you when you
were feeding bulls in a pen and I asked you, this is a half-day program. I mean they come for part of the day and they spend the rest of
the day in regular classes. And you told me you really like Mister McBride’s program so much better. That’s your favorite part of the day. Why is that? – First of all, (speaks in native language). First of all, I like
the hands on experience. I like working with Mister McBride. Every day we get animals in and out, large or small, but mainly I worked with the big animals, the large animals, the cows, horses, sheep, and goats. – So how does that connect
to the learning you do in the rest of the day? Is there a connection for you? How does it fit together? – Well in the morning, I have his class. Then in the afternoon, when I’m done with school, I go home and I wonder, I say, “I wonder if my animals had this. “I wonder how they are, “if they got the vaccination, “what to give them.” Then I think back and I say, “Well, I’ll probably
give them this spring. “We’ll give them this vaccination.” – So it’s going on at home for you, what’s going on in school.
– Yeah. – And Racquel, who by the
way, is Miss Teen Navajo, let’s just give a little respect there. (audience clapping) Racquel, how does this kind of learning tie into your personal life? And you might want to share
a little bit if you will about what you’re thinking. Both these guys are
seniors in high school, so they’re almost done. Why don’t you share what
you’re thinking of doing and how all of this might connect to it. – First of all, I’m gonna introduce myself
in my native tongue, just like Trevon did. (speaks in native language) And that’s how I tried to define myself as a young Dine lady. I have been in the program actually since I was a sixth grader. So I’m going into my final year and I started out really small. So I don’t know. As a sixth grader I started
with showing livestock. And as I’ve grown into the program, I’ve gone through the
leadership processes. I’ve competed in the
career development events that are hosted through the FFA program. And then on top of that, with the daily life that we get serving the animals,
and doing vaccinations, and working on cattle, I’ve also gone to go through learning how to draw a vaccine and giving the vaccinations hands-on. So with that, I’ve also grown into
loving the health field and I wanna apply that
to human health services and I wanna go into nursing and ultimately I want to
become a registered nurse and specialize in pediatric oncology because I really love
to work with children. – Thank you. (audience clapping) So Clyde, let me ask you, you could’ve started any kind of career in Tech Ed program. You’ve been in Kayenta a long time. You showed up in the
community as an outsider. You didn’t first started as a veterinary sciences program, did you? – No. First of all when I arrived there in 1990, it was more of a
plant-trying-to-grow-corn type program and the immediate engage to the student was they were more interested
in the animal science side. And I can tell you growing up in a ranch and getting formal training
in livestock management, it happened very quickly
where a student had a horse that was having some issues and they called me up and I went out and made the horse better and it kind of just progressed from there. It was my decision that this is what the community really needs. They need somebody here to be able to care for the livestock
in unique situations. So that’s when I turned
the focus in our program to the veterinary medicine
side and the veterinary science because I could stay up all night, every night, treating animals. But it would be more important to teach that next generation so they have the skills and ability to treat their own livestock. – So you literally shaped the program based on phone calls and
demands you were getting? – Yes, ma’am. – So what difference do
you think that’s made to the students in it and
to the community members who send their children to your school? – We have a lot of students who the parents have to
drive them about 40 miles to catch a bus every day because they are out of our school district. But the parents and the community sees the importance of that program. It all starts out when
we’re looking at anything dealing with the public is in most part, people, you’re just one voice strong. Way back 20 years ago, we were having a serious issue of parvo infecting dogs and the parvo virus just kills them off. I remember a parvo dog coming
in to the clinic one day and it’s always this little
girl that’s holding this puppy and I had to explain to her that her puppy was going to die. When I turned around, my class was crying. And I said, “Now it’s up to
you to make a difference.” Probably in the next three
months following that, we gave over 400 vaccines to prevent parvo because they took it into their own hands. It’s a student’s program. They took ownership and they’re the ones that go out and promotes services
and what we need to do. That’s why I’m glad they’re here because they are the heart and soul. They are the ones that
is out there promoting health practices to our local community. – Trevon, correct me if I’m wrong, you’re not really planning to do a career with animal science, right? You have something else in mind, right? – I would like to try to do both. I do like to do welding, welding and I like to go
to school for welding. And maybe at the same time, go to school for being a grazing officer in our Navajo reservation or a ranger. – So you have a couple
different things in mind and I wonder how the
animal science part of it pushes you forward with
something like welding. I mean someone like me would think, “Well, those aren’t related at all.” So what’s the relationship that you see between all of these things
that you have in your mind that you might do? – Well for the grazing officer, it helps me with my community. My grandparents, as we explain our clans, we all are related. In some way our clans, we are related and I would like to help them. Every now and then I did get a call from my uncle or my auntie to ask me, “How do you do this? “What should I… “How, how?” So I go over there, take the time, and I go on that side. And then, as in the welding, Mister McBride always has
a project for me to do. (Catherine laughing)
(audience laughing) – I’ll bet. Thank you. I see we’re out of time, would you please help me
think these wonderful folks who’ve come from Arizona. (audience clapping) – As you’ve just heard from his students, Clyde McBride’s powerhouse program in pre-veterinary sciences gives kids hands-on experiences, propels them to college and jobs, and provides an indispensable service to their Navajo community. Clyde, please join me at the podium, and bring Racquel and Trevon as well. (chuckles) Come back up! (audience clapping) Don’t be shy. (audience clapping) – My father first came to this
country in the early 1960s and he began working in the
farms here as a farm worker. But the first farm time that he worked at was here in Oxnard where
he worked for three years. And I made a commitment to my father at one point when I was a principal and I started moving up the
ranks in the school system, that one day when I would
become a superintendent that I wanted to serve a community like where he started first in America. Oxnard is a working-class community, also a diverse part of a
migrant farm worker community. When serving a community that is primarily 90%
free and reduced lunch, the majority of our students need all the help they can get. (student mumbling) – Do you see that? Can everybody show me your reading finger? Say this is my reading finger. – [Students] This is my reading finger. – Reading is a gatekeeper and it’s a must. Having books in the home is essential. Our school district is doing its part. We presently have a
one-to-one tablet initiative where every child has an iPad device. But not only that, we’ve also loaded it with
aa digital program, Mayan, and other programs that have the ability for students to
download digital material and not only read it at school, but read it at home. Every child in this school district, no matter their income level, has the ability to have 20 new titles to choose from every day. – Research shows that time spent reading books is a single best predictor
of academic success. The students we’re about
to honor this evening are definitely going to
have that academic success because each of them have
read over one million words. (group clapping) – One of the unintended
consequences of our initiatives here in Oxnard School District has been that parents are also utilizing
our students tablets at home and they’re also reading books, the digital books, together with their children, reading to their children, or reading themselves. – (speaks in foreign language) – He was looking for food, but everywhere he looked, there was nothing, just empty pots. – The only way we’re gonna best set up our students for success is giving them access to reading, motivating reading. Do whatever it takes. How are you? – Good. – Good. You learned how to read? – Yeah. – That’s cool! And I want students to love to read for the sake of the joy of reading. But I also want them to never have as an excuse, any class in general, that they don’t understand something because they don’t have a strong
enough comprehension level. Those of us that are educators, we need to acknowledge we were successful and we’ve navigated the school system. Now let’s help our students
all navigate it as well. Give me a high five. (palms clapping)
All right! You read very well. – [Student] Yeah. – [Cesar] You like to read? – Superintended Morales fosters a love and joy of
reading throughout his district by leveraging educational technology, creating and sustaining a
massive bilingual campaign, and making tens of
thousands books available, to not only his students, but those students families as well in Oxnard, California. Cesar, please come and
join me at the podium. (audience clapping) Let me welcome to the stage Education Week Staff Writer Evie Blad and Jim Rollins, the Veteran Schools Chief of the Springdale Public
Schools in Springdale, Arkansas. (audience clapping) – Hi everyone. I have to say this is kind
of a cool moment for me. When I was a little baby
reporter in Arkansas, I covered Springdale Schools for a time. So it was pretty neat when we were receiving
nominations for this year to see Doctor Rollins name come up. Springdale schools is a
notable school district because it grew so rapidly, and its composition changed so rapidly. As a school district in
the 20,000 student range might not seem big if
you’re from California or from a metropolitan area, but in rural Arkansas, that’s pretty big and what’s most notable about it is that it happened so quickly. When Doctor Rollins came
to Springdale in the 80s, they were fewer than 5,000 students and in the mid-2000s, early-2000s, the district changed overnight, hundreds of students coming in regularly. The Northwest Arkansas region
was the fastest growing metropolitan statistical
area in the country. And in addition to keeping with that growth in sheer numbers, the district added a significant number of Hispanic students and Marshallese students who brought different instructional challenges to the schools. So Doctor Rollins, can you just tell me a little bit about what drove that growth and some of the challenges that it presented for you along the way? – Well our region of the country, in certainly the Northwest Arkansas, was a rapidly growing area, an area that really had been one of rich agrarian
heritage over the years that began to grow up economically. And when you begin to
think about the corporate presence of Walmart, and Tyson Foods, and really other corporate
giants like that, and the spinoff industries
associated with it, you can appreciate why families began to look at Northwest Arkansas, Springdale, specifically, They moved there from all over the country and really all over the world. And so our teachers really
had to be learners themselves. We’ve had a mantra forever to focus on teaching all children. Teach them all. I can never say enough or
express enough appreciation about the willingness of
our teachers to adjust, and as I said, be learners themselves so that they’re better
prepared to serve kids from all backgrounds. – And it’s really true. You don’t go through a school
board meeting in Springdale without hearing Doctor Rollins say, “All means all or teach them all.” And I wondered if you can
tell me a little bit about your philosophy. You have a really strong
administrative team. You’ve worked really hard to
put good leaders in buildings and good teachers and classrooms. How did you go about
finding teachers who could approach this change and meet the needs of new groups of students? – I think we all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and service to children, I think, pulls great educators to you. We’ve been (clears throat) so fortunate, I think, to create a culture
where teachers understand that if they really want to do good work, they can come there, and be
respected, and be appreciated, and know that their voice counts. And when you have those
kinds of enticements that are part of your culture, as I said, great teachers wanna come
and be a part of your system. – And can you tell me a little bit about you partnered with the
University of Arkansas to get more teacher certified in TESOL. You have a large number of your traditional classroom teachers who are trained in second
language acquisition and have done some culturally-sensitive professional development to learn about how to meet the needs of their students. Why was that important to you? – Much of our growth
during the last 15 years has been ELL children, families, as I said, moving to our area from
all over the world really. And so we knew we had to continue to learn ourselves so that we could better
serve the needs of all kids. Making that cultural transition, learning how to deal with children and families from different backgrounds, different learning styles, et cetera, was very much a part of
our growth and development. Our teachers understood that. They are professionals
at the highest level and they are willing and eager to continue to learn so that they could
better serve their kids. In order to do that, we had to create
partnerships of all sorts, partnerships with our universities, really not just our local university, the University of Arkansas, but universities around the region. Today we have about 1700
teachers in our district. We have another 900 support personnel and thus all 25, 2600 of our staff are constantly immersed
in capacity building. So we’re in a better
position to serve our kids. – And you are open about the fact that there are still some challenges. You want your teaching force to reflect your student population more. You’d like to have more Latino teachers. You’d like to have more
Marshallese teachers. Tell me a little bit about some of the things that
you’re starting to do to approach that. – We’ve been constantly immersed in traditional recruiting
initiatives over time and we’ve had some good luck with that. But the thing that really
inspires me the most, are the efforts that have come forward, develop our teachers and principals to develop teacher academies, where we’re training young people who have deep roots in the community to consider and prepare
for the teaching profession and that has produced great dividends. Today we have about 40 plus
percent of our entire staff that are ELL endorsed, meaning they’ve gone back to school. They’ve taken at least 12 hours of focused instruction in terms of working with ELL children. I can tell you with a
great deal of pleasure that 100% of our teachers have been immersed in the ongoing professional development to better serve all children. We know that capacity building is the very key to our future and that’s certainly the case when you’re dealing with a growing and highly diverse population. – That’s right. Well I hope that you’ll join
me in thanking Doctor Rollins for his contribution to education and his presence here today. (audience clapping) – With his Teach Them All ethos, Superintendent Jim Rollins
has been on the leading edge of helping immigrant
students and their families find a firm foothold
and sense of community in Springdale. He and his team did this when the district grew at a rapid pace, requiring them to build new schools while figuring out how to meet the needs of the emerging immigrant communities. Jim, please join me. (audience clapping) (car engines running) – Where I grew up in with my family, education was not a priority. As I grew up and some of my friends had a focus on where they were
going to go to college and I remember that it let me off guard. Like, “What do you mean
you’re planning for college?” And so, spoke with my mom about that, and she said, “We’re poor. “We don’t go to college.” But after high school, I
went into construction. Before I got into teaching, and I am a career change, I was in demolition and heavy equipment. I had made the decision
that it wasn’t enough for me and decided to go back to college. I knew that I wanted to
have the life of the mind. Okay, no problem. The first year, I was teaching for Perris
Union High School District and I heard that there was this thing called the technology committee. And so I asked to join
the technology committee. It was primarily run by the tech director and the meetings had some teachers there, but all they talked about was, “Are we upgrading to Windows 2007? “Are we doing this? “Are we doing that?” And I was frustrated that I don’t understand why we
are talking about this. Everything should just work. We should be talking about
teaching and learning. – But the good news is we have– – I’ve put that frustration into action and working with the
tech director before me was able to sort of change the vision of the technology committee. We rebranded it and then
it finally took off. It took off at what we called the Educational Technology Council. – [Colleague] You wanna do. You can put two right at the end. – So out of our scholar plus
teaching and learning plan, out of that plan, we became a one-to-one district. Our students take home
these Chromebooks every day and they also take them home for summer. We don’t collect them. When we first went one-to-one, there were people that were skeptics. Diverse skeptics saying, “Oh, those kids… “and those kids…” but what I told them, and it is a truism, that those kids, these kids, are our kids. They cherish their device. They know that they
take them home, in fact, we have people that work in this district and have kids in this district and their neighbors come
over to use the device to do their homework. They’re not in our district. They are in another district. So we were not just
providing devices students, we were actually providing
them to families. However, I would say, a one-to-one movement
is just the beginning. I think the districts
should be one-to-many. I think that we should being tool rich. We shouldn’t just be technology rich, we should be tool rich. We’re not just fixated on
testing and test scores, we’re actually working on teaching kids how to learn. You saved that in Drive and
share it with each other? – The technology director in California’s Perris Union High School District demands fast responses to IT problems and insists on keeping close connections to teaching and learning by sitting in on lessons
and coaching his colleagues. That intersection between exceptional at tech integration, and curriculum, and instruction is why we are singling out Joseph Williams and his outstanding work on behalf of students and educators. Joseph, please join me here on the podium. (audience clapping) Let me welcome to the stage Assistant Managing Editor Leslie Maxwell, formerly we were gonna have
Christina Samuels join us, but she has no voice today. So Leslie will be
stepping in for Christina and a great leader from the
Seminole County Public Schools in Florida, Jeanette Lukens, the Director of Project Elevate. (audience clapping) – Thank you everyone and I’m gonna do my best
to pinch-hit for Christina who is the person who should be here if she was feeling better. She was the one who
wrote the amazing story about the work that
Jeanette Luken’s is doing in Seminole County in partnership with Superintendent Walt Griffin. And just a word about Doctor Griffin. He was planning to be with
us here today of course, but earlier this week, there was a tragic incident
in the district that impacted one of their families and sadly, a mother and her eight-year-old son were killed in a domestic
violence incident. Her seven-year-old son
is still in the hospital, an 18-year-old high school
student was also injured in this incident. So I just want us to take a moment of silence in condolence with our colleagues here. We’re all here because
we care about children and of course this is
everyone’s worst nightmare. So thank you for your moment. Just a quick word about
Seminole County schools. It’s a big district in Florida, just under 70,000 students. It’s diverse. It’s a high-performing district. But you guys started looking around at areas where you thought
you might do better and one of the things that
I think that the data showed you and Doctor Griffin was
that in gifted education, the students were overwhelmingly white and coming from affluent families. And as a school psychologist who was getting those referrals, you were seeing that pattern yourself. So tell us a little bit
about that, Jeanette. – So, yes. While I’ve been working in a variety of schools across the district, I did notice disproportionality with regards
to those gifted referrals. Depending on which school I was serving, there were little to
no referrals for gifted versus getting them every single day. Also within the referrals
that I was receiving and noticing across the district, there was little diversity with regard to the students
who were being considered for this program and the services. I also noticed when I would be supporting those teachers in the classrooms, there was limited diversity in some of those settings as well. So there was great variability depending on which sections
of our school district we were supporting. – So how did you start the work of identifying and removing those barriers that were obviously keeping talented kids are from a richer backgrounds and experiences. How did that get started? – So we have a fantastic team and we kind of came across three questions when we were analyzed
saying district-wide data with regards to our
culturally and linguistically diverse students. The first was, were they being referred
in the first place? Were they even being considered for these particular programs? The second was, were they actually
qualifying for our services and programs with the
current eligibility criteria? And third, were they really all being
given advanced opportunities? And were those advanced opportunities appropriate and relevant
for these children?? So those were the three barriers that we identified in analyzing the data and meeting with school teams. We really had a very
comprehensive approach to tackling these barriers, including a robust freshman
development for teachers so that they’re able to better recognize gifted and gifted traits in children and high-ability students from these underrepresented populations because giftedness can really
manifest quite differently in students from poverty and in students learning
English as a second language. We also pulled in a family
engagement component to that as well. We took a look at our eligibility matrix that we’re able to use, the state allows us to use an alternative eligibility criteria for
a select group of students to really make sure that
that was actually capturing talent and ability of our children. And then looking at our
advanced opportunities, we’re really making sure that we were providing all students
with a variety of options, not just those identified
formally as gifted. We’ve done a comprehensive
expansion and revision of our talent development
program across our district to hopefully foster and
generate some higher ability and then also really
looking at school-wide enrichment for all children. – Talk us through how you’ve
been working with teachers to look beyond the kid who’s
always raising his or her hand or the student who’s earning the As and says they love reading. What are those other signs? How do you go about
broadening the definition? – So we’re really trying to work on breaking misconceptions and stereotypes with our teachers. And our approach is not just
including grade level teachers. We really expanded our
freshman development to include teachers who are teaching ESOL, our special-areas teachers, getting more comprehensive approach and letting them all be
aware of those traits. We are also using some
innovative technology bringing virtual
classrooms to our schools. Yes, we are presenting trainings, but we are actually
allowing teachers to have live interactions with these
student avatars that are displaying these traits and they are able to practice recognizing those trades and again trying to break and get past those stereotypes and misconceptions. It’s all about relationship building. We’re spending so much
time in the classroom working with those teachers. Another part of our project is tackling the instructional support and again those gifted traits through content. So we have content-area specialists coming and training our teachers, not just a gifted-student focus, what’s the best practice
for differentiation in each of the content areas and how are we able to meet the needs of the high achieving and gifted students. – I know part of this work has also involved educating parents
in these communities where students were not not
being referred for giftedness. Talk a little bit about what its taken to get parents understanding that they can advocate for
their children to be referred. – When we were looking at the gifted data, as well as my personal experience
as a school psychologist, we noticed that are there are
some schools in our district that are very heavy in
parent-generated referrals. They are aware of their
rights as a parent. They understand that there
are possibilities for advanced opportunities for their children versus some other of our schools, the parents were just unaware at all. So we have a huge parent component as far as advocating for those parents, meeting with them, educating them on what
the actual traits are, at home, what to look for, how can they support their student, high achieving or gifted, but also their rights as a parent of what they can ask for of their schools. I think at the heart of all of this work, whether it’s parents, teachers, students, it’s all about equity and access. We really strive as a district
to serve all students, and that includes high
achieving and gifted and we want to continue to see those academic learning gains across all of our groups of children. – And I know you’ve
gotten some real results. I mean your numbers have
really changed over time. If you can kind of give us an
update of where you started and where you’ve gotten to, and what the next phase is. – I think a great example of
one that I reference frequently when I began this work
and was asked to do this, I was asked to go into a school
that had one gifted student, elementary school, K-5. I was in that same school last week and there was not enough seats in the room for the group of gifted students and also the diversity in that class. I think it’s so powerful
for these children to have peers in their same community that looks like them, that are from the same areas as them that it’s okay to be smart and I’m allowed to have this ability and what can I do to foster more of it. Yes, we’ve had huge gains. We are very thankful for that. We have a lot more work to go but we’ve seen an increase, that only in our specific target schools, but over all, in our entire population. Diversity is the increasing. We are getting closer to marrying our district-wide data. – Well with that, we’re about out of time. So big round of applause
for Jeanette Lukens and to Doctor Walt Griffin in absentia, thank you so much. (audience clapping) – Seminole County Florida
School Psychologist Jeanette Lukens is scouting more broadly for talent and bringing more
diversity to the district’s gifted student population. She’s working with teachers to help them look for giftedness beyond the straight-A kids and those who always raise the hands. If you haven’t seen the video story that shows some of
Seminole’s gifted students deeply engaged with and
excited about their learning, you’ve got to do it. Jeanette, please join me at the podium. (audience clapping) – Wow, that was an incredible array of talent and enormous amount of information. For those of you who have
been sitting here thinking, “My God, I wanna hear
from a superintendent,” Tawwab and everybody else, you are going to be able to hear more from everybody right now. We are about to begin something that I think is incredibly
special for all of you in the room and for everyone on that live stream, we want you here next year.

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