Welcome to the movement, Detroit Public Schools Community District!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Adan Garcia, Associate Director of Communications
(202) 510-0827, marketing@leadingeducators.org

LEADING EDUCATORS LAUNCHES PARTNERSHIP WITH DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS COMMUNITY DISTRICT
Professional learning approach will help teachers bring engaging English language arts lessons to life

July 22, 2019

DETROIT, MI -  Today, more than 20 master educators and 360 English language arts (ELA) teachers from high schools across Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) begin their participation in a new effort to foster excellent and equitable teaching.

Launched in partnership with Leading Educators, a national nonprofit focused on systemic improvement, the program builds on DPSCD’s master teacher initiative with a focus on helping teachers make instructional decisions that accelerate learning breakthroughs.  School systems across the country like DPSCD are recognizing the importance of an instructional approach that leverages high-quality curriculum, opportunities for teachers to build knowledge and skill together, and supportive school conditions. When teachers have effective opportunities to grow in their practice, schools are better equipped to ensure every student succeeds in school and in life. 

Over the next year, Leading Educators and DPSCD will increase district-level capacity for continuous improvement, scale shared leadership that allows master educators to mentor peer teachers, and implement weekly professional learning opportunities for ELA teachers.  Master teachers will have access to additional supports including professional development workshops, “Learning Labs” for analyzing data and preparing for facilitation, and instructional leadership coaching.  

Leading Educators is a recognized innovator of curriculum-based professional learning design for school systems through their work with school systems including DC Public Schools, Tulsa Public Schools, and public charter school networks in more than 15 cities in the United States.

Leading Educators CEO Chong-Hao Fu shared, “Teachers need to feel comfortable finding balance in making instructional decisions that meet every students’ needs without feeling overwhelmed.  This partnership builds on the powerful work that DPSCD has been doing to align teacher support and high-quality curricula.  It’s a huge opportunity to bridge classrooms to foster schools where teachers work together to bring powerful lessons to life every day, knowing how to serve diverse learners without sacrificing the integrity of their content.”

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ABOUT LEADING EDUCATORS

Leading Educators is helping education leaders build sustainable environments where teachers and students thrive, igniting the potential for exponential impact in schools and across districts. We partner with states, districts, and public charter networks to design curriculum-based learning and support structures that create the conditions for continuous improvements in teaching across their schools--helping teachers create excellent and equitable student experiences every day. www.leadingeducators.org

Put Learning in High Gear

In a recent article in The Learning Profile, Leading Educators CEO Chong-Hao Fu makes the case for why access to effective professional learning is critical to teachers being effective at creating excellent and equitable educational experiences for every young person.

Chong-Hao Fu, CEO of Leading Educators (a curriculum-specific professional learning design organization), explains that just as doctors aren’t expected to invent a new procedure to do open heart surgery, teachers shouldn’t have to design lessons from scratch. Instead, they can apply professional judgment to differentiate instruction, drawing from evidence-based practices to meet students’ needs.

“There isn’t a Platonic ideal lesson that exists outside of the relationship between teachers and students,” says Fu. “Teachers inevitably must make decisions to respond to their students. The question is, how do we help them do so skillfully?”

True equity—that is, the sum of intentional efforts to ensure students furthest from opportunity are given what they need to be successful—happens at the intersection of a coherent instructional approach and systemic supports for excellent teaching. A system that has the success of every young person in mind has strong academics at the center.

You can read the full article from Learning Forward here.

Amy Rome Appointed to Chicago Board of Education

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06/03/19
M. René Islas
Chief External Relations Officer
marketing@leadingeducators.org


MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT APPOINTS AMY ROME TO CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION
Leading Educators President brings more than 20 years of service within CPS to governing body


CHICAGO, IL - Today, new Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that Amy Rome, President at Leading Educators and a long-time Chicago educator, will join the newly appointed Chicago Board of Education.

"The strength of our schools lies in their diversity, which is why we've announced a new board with strong representation to reflect the diverse voices of the students, families, teachers and staff of who they serve," said Mayor Lightfoot in a statement. "I want to thank our new board members who through their expertise and experience as teachers, administrators, parents, and proud CPS graduates, will ensure all students in all parts of the city have access to high-quality education."

Before joining Leading Educators as Vice President of Design in 2015, Rome worked in and with Chicago Public Schools for more than 20 years as a teacher, teacher leader, school leader, and principal supervisor. Most recently at the Academy for Urban School Leadership, she supported eight Chicago Public Schools as a principal manager and worked with principals and their instructional leadership teams across a network of 32 schools.  As Chief Program Officer, Rome advised Leading Educators’ three-year capacity-building partnership with Chicago Public Schools, funded primarily through a federal Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) grant that was awarded in 2016. Launched in 2017, the partnership enlisted Leading Educators to co-design and scale job-embedded, curriculum-specific professional learning supports for teachers across 14 schools.

“We know that Amy holds the welfare of Chicago’s students and families close to her heart, and we congratulate her on this incredible opportunity to contribute to her city.  We also thank Mayor Lightfoot’s team for their cooperation in assessing any potential conflicts with our partnership in Chicago to ensure this relationship will have no bearing on ongoing support to teachers,” said Leading Educators CEO Chong-Hao Fu.

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ABOUT LEADING EDUCATORS

Leading Educators is reinventing professional development for teachers, igniting the potential for exponential impact in schools and across districts.  We partner with school systems to establish the teaching, leadership, and conditions for continuous improvements in student opportunity at scale, helping teachers ensure excellent and equitable student outcomes every day.  www.leadingeducators.org


Do More with Teacher Appreciation

BY MAGGIE SLYE, Managing Director of Thought Leadership

Do a quick Google search for “Teacher Appreciation Week” and you will uncover dozens of pages broadcasting special deals for teachers, gift ideas for parents, and recognition events.  Now in the 35th year, this annual reminder that teachers are valued brings rare national focus to education as a top tier issue for five short days. We can never show too much gratitude for the 3,700,000 teachers who have devoted their lives to igniting the fullest potential in all of our students. And as a teacher and school leader for over 15 years who now supports teachers’ growth across the country, I can’t help but think we are missing the point. Teacher Appreciation cards, gifts, and events certainly communicate care, and there is much more we can do to show teachers how much we value their service.  

Let’s add these essentials to a national “Teacher Appreciation Gift Guide”:

High-quality instructional materials:  What teachers teach matters just as much as how they teach it.  The truth is the quality of teaching materials varies widely, and most curricula in schools today do not meet the highest of standards despite the growing availability of low- or no-cost options.  This means too many teachers resort to spending about 7 hours per week searching for materials online or creating them from scratch. Planning time should allow teachers to focus their energy on bringing strong materials to life, not figuring out what to use.  When school systems prioritize adoption of high-quality curriculum, they increase the likelihood that every student will have access to the content they need to learn and thrive.

Meaningful professional development: School districts spend nearly $18,000 per teacher, per year on teacher professional development.  Where that investment fails is it rarely connects to what teachers are actually teaching, missing the mark on  the student growth teachers want to spark. Instead, schools should support every teacher with consistent professional learning opportunities that facilitate building deep content knowledge and cultivating instructional practices their students need. Better yet, when teams of teacher engage in learning together, it fosters collective ownership of student outcomes across classrooms, allows teachers to pinpoint challenges that might be common to multiple groups of students, and land on timely, evidence-based solutions to implement rather than struggling alone.  This process, used in tandem with high-quality materials, equips teachers to drive a coherent vision for instructional excellence that accounts for the needs and strengths of all learners.

Think of schools as places where students and teachers learn: Schools were generally not designed with teacher learning in mind, and it might not be obvious why that matters.  Teachers experience frequent change as standards and expectations for student learning evolve to meet the demands of a rapidly changing global economy. Whereas other sectors, including medicine and engineering, take these anticipated evolutions into consideration through credentialing and training that responds to new research, teacher roles and working conditions have not been designed with continuous learning embedded. Shifting this reality requires creating sacred time for learning-focused collaboration, limiting school priorities, and distributing leadership capacity for timely feedback and coaching.

As educators, community members, students, and parents, we can build a system that supports students and teachers. This Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s commit our collective creativity, capability, and resources to do even more to honor our nation’s teachers.

Maggie Slye is the Managing Director of Thought Leadership at Leading Educators. Previously, she led Leading Educators' partnership with DC Public Schools to launch and scale LEAP, a job-embedded, curriculum-specific professional learning system. In her 20 year career, Maggie has served as an assistant principal, central office director, literacy coach, and teacher. She is active in conversations on Twitter about the future of teaching, curriculum, and learning standards at @MaggieSlye.

Meet M. René Islas, Chief External Relations Officer at Leading Educators

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M. René Islas joined Leading Educators this month as Chief External Relations Officer. He is a lifelong advocate for students and families, holding positions at the U.S. Department of Education, several nonprofit organizations, and school support partners. Here he shares about the experiences that have shaped his leadership and his vision for helping schools ignite potential:

LE: What should the Leading Educators community know about you?

MRI: I am always looking to improve. This starts with personal improvement but then extends to other things in my life. I am a consultant by nature and always start with the question, “How can we make things even better?”  That’s the spirit of our growth value at Leading Educators, and I am excited to continue exploring how that commitment to building on strengths can lead to better experiences for students and families every day.

LE: You have worked in education for your entire career from many vantage points. What is the most influential lesson you’ve learned from an educator along the way?

MRI: I learned that despite our best efforts, systemic inequity still exists. It will take more than just teaching everyone well for students to overcome systemic barriers. As leaders in education, we must acknowledge that parts of our system are built to favor one group of students over another. Acknowledging this is the first step, then we need to search for, and implement, solutions that support all students to reach for their personal best.

“As leaders in education, we must acknowledge that parts of our system are built to favor one group of students over another. Acknowledging this is the first step, then we need to search for, and implement, solutions that support all students to reach for their personal best.”

LE: In your personal story, there are many connections between family and education. You spent a lot of time as a child with your grandfather who was a school principal, and you now have four children of your own. What have those experiences taught you about the kind of education every family should be able to expect for their children?

MRI: I was raised by generations of great educators. They are award-winning teachers and principals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty for their students. I can cite examples of how each of them looked at the individual children in their classrooms, searched for their individual strengths and needs, and then adapted their own professional skills to best support each student. Raising my children, I discovered that this professional practice demonstrated by members of my family are rare. My hope is that more educators will work to see each child as a unique bundle of potential that they will work to help blossom.

LE: You are person with many interests in addition to education, and we have a handful of rapid questions to scratch the surface. Are you game?

MRI: Yes!

LE: Who is that teacher you will never forget?

MRI: My middle school English teacher. She challenged me to write an essay on advocating for civil rights. She showed me that she believed in my ability to persuade through the pen and then supported me to refine my message. I appreciate her encouragement and hope that I can inspire others as she did for me.

LE: What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

MRI: Jacob’s Ladder: Ten Steps to Truth. It's a fun, easy read, covering heavy stuff. I love philosophy!

LE: Who’s someone who inspires you?

MRI: Dr. Martin Luther King. He bravely chose the hard road--non-violent, direct action--to challenge our nation to turn away from systemic racism.

LE: Where’s your favorite place in the world?

MRI: Jamaica. It’s my family’s happy place.

LE: What are three things you can’t live without?

MRI: God. Family. Music.

LE: What are you most proud of in life so far?

MRI: My four kids. Each one of them brings a distinct set of gifts to our family and community.

M. René Islas Joins Leading Educators as Chief External Relations Officer

CONTACT:
Adan Garcia
Associate Director of Communications
(202) 510-0827
marketing@leadingeducators.org

M. RENÉ ISLAS JOINS LEADING EDUCATORS AS CHIEF EXTERNAL RELATIONS OFFICER

Islas will oversee a strategy to expand districts’ access to supports and resources for improving teaching at scale

WASHINGTON, DC - March 26, 2019

M. René Islas, who has been a lifelong champion of expanding educational opportunities for all students, joins Leading Educators as the organization’s new Chief External Relations Officer (CERO), CEO Chong-Hao Fu announced.

The grandson of a school principal, Islas remembers learning the value of education from around the time he could talk.  “My grandfather taught me that in order for students to learn the content they need to pursue their dreams, they need strong relationships with skillful teachers who care about them and believe in the great things their students will achieve.  Throughout my career, I’ve been driven by a commitment to create the best school environments where teachers and their students will thrive,” Islas shared.

Islas has spent much of his career navigating the government, nonprofit, and consulting sectors to build coalitions of support around the issues most critical to advancing educational equity.  Most recently, he was the Executive Director of the National Association for Gifted Children where he led efforts to increase public awareness, change policies, and improve educator practice in support of advanced learners, especially the most vulnerable students who are historically underrepresented in gifted and talented programs through initiatives including the Giftedness Knows No Boundaries campaign.  Previously, he served as the Senior Vice President at Learning Forward, a nonprofit education association focused on building the capacity of leaders to establish and sustain effective professional learning, and as Chief of Staff for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education.  As CERO, Islas will lead a robust strategy to expand supports for districts and teachers to eradicate within-school equity gaps in pursuit of universal college and career readiness.             

“René brings a wealth of leadership expertise to our team, and he has helped make big things happen throughout his career to advance student outcomes by improving access to excellent educational opportunities.  Whether it was leading a coalition to create the Teacher Incentive Fund within the U.S. Department of Education by the U.S. Congress or launching thriving consulting businesses at Learning Forward and B&D Consulting, René has taken on innovative leadership challenges that have contributed to the broader education sector,” Fu shared.

“I am excited to join the powerful team at Leading Educators that is reinventing professional learning to support effective teaching for students from all backgrounds,” said Islas about the work ahead.

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About Leading Educators

Leading Educators is reinventing professional development for teachers, igniting the potential for exponential impact in schools and across districts.  We partner with states, districts, and public charter networks to design content-based learning and support structures that create the conditions for continuous improvements in teaching across their schools--helping teachers reach better, more equitable student outcomes.  www.leadingeducators.org