Hello to our many friends as we hit the ground running for School Year 2019-20. We were busy over summer and want to provide a flavor of some of the work we see as vital and meaningful.
Artesian Schools- Memphis, TN
Co-Founder Larry Myatt and Chicago-area ERC Associate, Kothyn Evans Alexander spent time getting to know Artesian School’s Southwest Early College HS in Memphis, TN. Founder and Executive Director Ashley Smith has made a move to the inside of the school, becoming interim Principal alongside her ED role. We love the Artesian motto and mission- link here – the idea that the talent is here, the soul and spirit and will are here, waiting to be tapped. What a great idea for a school!
Smith made a supreme career jump, leaving a successful decade and reputation in pharma sales and development to found a school, a school that had to be in Memphis, and that would build on the local people and wisdom. She has added two seasoned and highly talented new Curriculum Facilitators and is taking a first-hand role in re-thinking the school’s social-emotional development/youth development platforms. SWECHS is adding, over this coming year, a thoughtful Advisory setting to the weekly schedule, restoring PYD activities, reaching out beyond the school to create a learning community built on pushing for higher standards –for students, staff and families—while providing the support to get there. Staff will be working from a “guided discipline” lens to support student growth and achievement. It’s a turn-around of sorts but the future looks good, she is raising expectations, and is an open, energetic and super committed leader! We’re all in with her, her team and with Memphis!
Pembroke, NH Innovation Academy
Last spring, I had the chance to meet with old friend, Chris Motika, Director of Curriculum,. Instruction and Assessment in Pembroke, NH. Chris and I had worked closely in Manchester, NH and he introduced me to his new colleagues – Headmaster Paul Famulari, Curriculum Director Dan Morris, and Dean of Students Amy Parkinson—from Pembroke Academy. They were excited for their high school, to explore new ideas and practices to engage teachers and students, even in a context where students are doing quite well by traditional measures. We had an energetic late afternoon two hours in March as we explored possibilities and they prepared to present to their school board the idea of an Innovation Academy, where students and teachers could explore deep inquiry practices, project design that goes beyond “PBL”, and create new systems and structures, as a sort of “R&D” segment of the school.
They soon got the okay they were after and a large number of staff came forward to populate the teaching ranks of the Academy over the next 2-3 years. My Inquiry Colleague, Dr. Katrina Kennett, and I were invited to work with their team for an initial kick-off in June. The first cohort of teachers brought energy, curiosity and high hopes. Busy school administrators and other teaching colleagues in the building freely sat in and participated, boding well for a growing investment in more sophisticated and engaging teaching to reach and go deeper with all learners. We dug into our ever-growing Inquiry Tool Kit, introducing EdCafes, our Grand Challenges and Curiosity Key to the PA Innovation team. We’ll be headed back as they rev up for opening!
Calcutt Inquiry Academy, Central Falls, Rhode Island
Six summer days brought together teachers and hands-on Principal Tim Milisauskas from Calcutt Middle School to get a jump start on building the school’s Inquiry Academy. The Academy will encompass almost all of the school’s eighth grade, is completely heterogeneous, and includes a sizeable number of students learning English as a second language. It’s a high-stakes venture but the team and the administration show every sign of being ready. The CIA team explored tried-and-true ERC tools and strategies, such as Learning Murals, EdCafes, meeting protocols, and Viewing Groups as well as working on hands-on activities, collaborations and visits beyond the school and an interesting set of organizational development “working principles” to guide their work when the going gets tough in the new team ecology.
ERC will continue to work directly with the CIA as well as providing full-faculty professional learning in the areas of positive school climate, inquiry tools, and school redesign as Calcutt moves into implementation phases of its district change initiative.
On-going Coaching and Consulting
Co-Founder Wayne Ogden continued his stellar work supporting leaders coaching in a number of settings. We’re not ashamed to say that he’s prominent among a handful of highly experienced experts on teacher supervision and support. Helping in-service administrators to keep priorities in order and provide granular attention to developing a high-performing culture remains in demand. As Wayne reminds us in his “Six Myths” (link here), “20% of newly hired school leaders leave their position within two years of employment, with some districts routinely report principal “failure rates” of almost 50% within the first five years. Who’s NOT going to invest in support for people at that place in the organization?”
Wayne’s coaching work took him, among other places, to the Tiverton, RI Public Schools to continue his long-time collaboration with Superintendent Dr. Peter Sanchioni and where he mentors new and early-career principals at the middle and high school levels. He does similar work with Natick, MA Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Anna Nolin, working with principals at the elementary school level.
Wayne also concluded a long and fruitful coaching collaboration with Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, working with their lower school in ERC’s once-home town of Cambridge, MA. The school continues to thrive and Wayne enjoyed a number of productive coaching relations at the school.
Also, among continuing work, Wayne provides leadership and capacity building support at TEC Connections Academy in Walpole, MA also known as TECCA. TECCA is one of Massachusetts’s two public k-12 virtual school districts. And serves approximately 2,300 students. In its fourth year in 2018-2019, the school is led by superintendent Adam Goldberg. Ogden supports the fast-growing school’s efforts by facilitating a “New Leaders Group” and serves as a confidential coach for members of the school’s new Leadership Team.
Woburn MA Public Schools
A teams of ERC consultants led by Wayne Ogden pitched in to support Superintendent Matt Crowley in this Boston-West suburb by conducting program reviews at both the Joyce and Kennedy Middle Schools. The reviews offered a deep and comprehensive look at the curricular and co-curricular offerings at each of the two schools including classroom observations, student and parent surveys, document reviews and interviews with teachers and administrator in order to assist in shaping a professional development plan for each school. Joining in the work in Woburn were Dr. Jim Marini and Dr. Judith Malone Neville. ERC provides a range of services that help districts and leaders assess the work of their schools. (link here)
White Mountains Summer Institute, NH
White Mountains Regional HS conducted their first Summer Institute thanks to a generous grant from the Barr Foundation. Principal Mike Berry invited ERC’s Katrina Kennett and co-founder Larry Myatt to co-design and facilitate the three-day event and to provide mini consultations to teams in the areas of Humanities, Integrated Math/Science, Environmental Studies, Sophomore/Senior Seminar, STEAM and more. It was an impressive professional outing. Staff were cranking despite the midsummer heat outside and food trucks provided fun and nutrition to a staff hungry not only for lunch, but more importantly, for professional growth, intense collaboration, and re-committing to the idea that the school serves as the intellectual center of a community--“doing more for more kids”, as they like to say. Hats off to the Spartans!
Albuquerque Middle Schools
Eight middle schools from Zone 1 in Albuquerque came together to explore plans to raise achievement and build positive culture by better supporting students’ social-emotional development. Assistant Superintendent for Zone 1 Gabriella Blakey is a friend and colleague from prior endeavors in the Duke City and we built our two days of work around ERC’s Eight Key Elements of a robust social-emotional and positive youth development (PYD) setting. Principals from the eight schools brought school climate data, as well as information on their instructional and support teams and community connections. Key ideas from our working theory are that high-functioning teacher teams offer greater insights and support for students, that adults engaging young people with a PYD lens can bring out the best in young people, and that community organizations working in schools must play a larger role. We keep saying it, wellness is an achievement strategy, and we hope for good things for these eight schools.
“Just In”-- Manchester West 2019 STEAM data
A note sent along by old friend Bob Baines, former Mayor of Manchester, NH and founder of STEAM-Ahead NH indicated that our professional development and coaching at West HS had paid off in a big way. (see link here)
He passed along data that confirmed that our different approach to STEM, to professional development and to deep, inquiry projects paid off. Among the highlights:
a 96% graduation rate for STEAM Academy students
STEAM students are attending college and earning Honor Roll report cards at significantly higher rates
7 STEAM students finished in the top 13, although making up less than 20% of the school population
Congratulations to the hard-working faculty of Manchester West HS STEAM!!
Those are some of the places the ERC team showed up this summer. The myth of educators having the “summer off” is just that -a myth. These are schools and districts that we can be proud of and we’re happy to work with them.
Happy Fall to all!
The ERC team.