Today, our Media Spotlight shines on eight NWEA partners featured in EdWeek’s annual “Leaders to Learn from” series. The report, videos, and events from Edweek showcase innovative district leaders who “seize on good ideas and execute them well in their school systems.”
We are thrilled to partner with these 2017 “Leaders to Learn from”:
- Patricia Deklotz from Kettle Moraine School District. Superintendent Deklotz is recognized for her unique ability to “innovate on a dime,” as Edweek Tasked with the job of transforming the district to meet the needs of all students, she drove the implementation of personalized learning, advocating for teacher and student voice in the process. Deklotz also introduced the OECD Test for Schools, noting that her students are “living in a global society, and I need our community to understand where we are on an international benchmark test.”
- Bilal Tawwab from Flint Community Schools. Superintendent Tawwab was at the helm of Flint Community Schools during the water crisis, turning off water to the school district before the issue gained national attention and becoming a vocal advocate for Flint children in the process. Despite the crisis, according to Edweek, “The district stemmed the enrollment decline, losing fewer students than anticipated, and posted modest gains for 3rd and 6th grade students on Measures of Academic Progress” (You can read more about Flint’s academic growth in this Huffington Post piece.)
- Jim Rollins from Springdale School District. Superintendent Rollins is highlighted for managing rapid growth and demographic change, in an Arkansas district that attracts many recent immigrants to jobs at Tyson Foods and Walmart. According to Edweek, “More than 55 percent of Springdale’s student body are children who are not proficient in English, and 71 percent qualify for free and reduced-price lunches.” Rollins managed the changing district with his motto, “Teach them all.”
- Chris Coffelt from Central Decatur Community School District. Superintendent Coffelt is featured for his ability to recruit, develop, and retain teachers in his district in rural Iowa. Coffelt’s district is one of two in Iowa to implement a system for improving teacher effectiveness (TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Achievement). In the process, his district has become “a destination for educators from across Iowa who want to learn from the district’s work.”
- Sharon Griffin from Shelby County Schools. Griffin, Chief of Schools for Shelby County, is featured for leading a successful turnaround experiment in Memphis, after the Tennessee state legislature passed a law that threatened state takeover of struggling districts. But Griffin took advantage of a clause allowing districts to “try out their own interventions using some federal money and flexibility from the state’s cumbersome K-12 policies,” according to EdWeek. She led the creation of an iZone, or Innovation Zone, “Where principals have empowerment, teachers have the supports they need, and kids’ needs are addressed first,” Griffin said.
- Burke Royster from Greenville County Schools. Superintendent Royster is recognized for his commitment to removing barriers to education, particularly for students in poverty. One of his district’s key initiatives is OnTrack Greenville, which partners with social service providers “to spot, and knock down, hurdles to students’ ability to learn and thrive in school,” Royster said. Even with 77,000 students, school leaders all over Greenville County can flag triggers like frequent absences to intervene and find support services.
- John D. Marshall from Jefferson County Public Schools. John D. Marshall is highlighted for bringing equity issues to the forefront of the large Kentucky district he serves as Chief Equity Officer (one of the few in the nation, according to EdWeek). Dr. Marshall calls himself an “inside agitator” and pushes his district to answer questions like this: “When you have a school in the West End—the more impoverished area—with two AP classes, and then one in the East End with 26, what are you saying to the kids in the area with only two?” He created an “annual equity scorecard” for the district, using data to highlight trends and issues, change the conversation, and propose solutions.
- Clyde McBride from Kayenta Unified School District. As the director of career and technical education, Clyde McBride built a successful pre-veterinary program for students in a rural corner of Arizona. In a community with high poverty and unemployment, McBride’s program has shown amazing results: the students in it “outscore their peers statewide on math and English tests, and 100 percent graduate from high school,” according to EdWeek. McBride pushed for a modern “agri-center complex” – and got it. As the former superintendent at Kayenta noted, “[Clyde’s] program gives students a powerful intrinsic motivator to come to school, because they can see its connection to their community.”
Congratulations to these superintendents and district leaders for the honor! You can watch the videos and read more about these outstanding leaders on Edweek.org.