Next Week: Education Stakeholders Forum on TA and Comprehensive Centers

I’ll be hosting an Education Stakeholders Forum to be held Wednesday, May 11th, 2011, at 1:00 p.m., at the Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. We’ll be soliciting input and feedback on how we can improve the delivery of technical assistance through our partnership with Regional Comprehensive Center.

For more information, please visit this page: Information about Education Stakeholder Forum meetings and registering

Thanking Mrs. Silverman

Cross posted from the ED.gov blog.

I still remember how nervous I was during my first day of school, as a new kindergartener at Fremont Elementary. As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, I only spoke Spanish at home. So, I was worried about how I would fare in school. Would I understand what my teacher was saying to me? How would I make friends? What if I didn’t like school?Mrs.Silverman

Thanks to Mrs. Silverman, I didn’t have to worry about any of that. She welcomed me into her classroom and helped me fit in, even going so far as to set up a play date for me and a classmate, Brenda, who would go onto be my best friend. Gradually, she taught me my second language, while never devaluing or trying to erase my first. Most importantly, she showed me how magical learning could be, and set me on a path to academic success.

It is in large part because of Mrs. Silverman that I became a teacher. To this day, I have a photo of her with some of my classmates and me that appeared in a district newsletter. And whenever I have the opportunity to speak about the power of education, my story always seems to come back to Mrs. Silverman. Every so often, I do a search online for her, to see if I can find her, and tell her in person how much she’s done for me.  I haven’t found her, but I’ll continue to share broadly my memories of Mrs. Silverman. Maybe that’s my way of thanking her over and over again for all that she did for me – though I sure would like the chance to tell her in person.

Supporting Rural Schools

Colonial BeachAs I’ve mentioned in this blog before, we in OESE are taking a new approach to working and helping districts build capacity, especially those who serve diverse groups of learners. So, one of our priorities is working specifically with rural schools and communities to ensure they have the appropriate resources and support to address the unique challenges they face.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a rural school in Colonial Beach, Virginia – specifically, a rural SIG school.  Colonial Beach High School is one of two schools in the Colonial Beach district, and it serves a population of 3,000 citizens. The school received SIG funds last year and they’ve adopted the transformation model to turn around the school, with a lot of support from the district and its superintendent, Dr. Carol Power.

During my visit, I met teachers, saw some classrooms, and spoke with the dedicated School Board and the Lead Turnaround Partners team, which is made up of six educational experts that are working with Colonial Beach to implement the school turnaround process. The school has made some encouraging progress, but what was really interesting for me to see was how Colonial Beach was dealing with some of its challenges as a rural school. For example, the school has only one algebra teacher – that certainly makes it difficult to form a professional learning community at the school! The solution for Colonial Beach has been to use technology to connect teachers to colleagues in other areas.

The Department recognizes that many of our nation’s rural schools face particular challenges like this one, and we are working to provide technical assistance and other forms of support, including our upcoming SIG Conference focused on rural and Native American students, to be held on May 24-25 in Denver. We want to offer a forum for rural educators to build a professional network, to learn from one another, and to celebrate the unique strengths offered by rural communities. I’m interested in learning even more about strategies and successes in rural schools across the country, so I encourage you to share your experiences directly with me at AskDrT@ed.gov.

Photo Credit: Reza Marvashti/The Freelance Star | Read coverage on the visit from Fredericksburg.com

Up-to-date information from OESE: April Superintendent Monthly!

Superintendents — are you keeping up with all that’s happening in OESE and the Department of Education? Read all about our latest grants and events through the April issue of Superintendent Monthly. If you want to be kept up-to-date, you can sign up to join the Superintendent mailing list, which will share our monthly newsletter and information on any Superintendent calls coming up.

Superintendent Call on Productivity and Flexibility

Thank you to those of you who joined us for the April Superintendent Call yesterday afternoon. We discussed the documents put out by the Department of Education last month to Governors on increasing educational productivity and flexibility in federal dollars. I hope the call was helpful to you.

I also encourage you to email me about potential topics that you’d like us to cover in future calls — we want to make them as helpful and productive to you as possible. Email me at AskDrT@ed.gov and sign up to be on the Superintendent mailing list to receive invites to our Superintendent calls!

Superintendent Call on Productivity and Flexibility

Click here to download documents on productivity and flexibility.

Missed the call? Click here for the recording.

Thank you to those of you who joined us for the April Superintendent Call yesterday afternoon. We discussed the documents put out by the Department of Education last month to Governors on increasing educational productivity and flexibility in federal dollars. I hope the call was helpful to you.

I also encourage you to email me about potential topics that you’d like us to cover in future calls — we want to make them as helpful and productive to you as possible. Email me at AskDrT@ed.gov and sign up to be on the Superintendent mailing list to receive invites to our Superintendent calls!

Building Capacity for School Turnaround: The 2011 School Improvement Grant Regional Conferences

This entry is cross-posted from the ED.gov blog.

This morning, I’m excited to help kick off the 2011 School Improvement Grant Eastern Regional Conference in Washington, DC – an intensive, two-day event for school, district, and state leaders who are working to turn around their lowest-performing schools. The conference, hosted by ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) in partnership with our Comprehensive Centers, is the second of four regional capacity-building sessions that will take place over the next two months. The conferences are a key part of OESE’s efforts to provide our grantees with support and technical assistance as they implement the School Improvement Grant (SIG).

From the beginning of his administration, President Obama has made the commitment to turn around America’s lowest-performing schools a centerpiece of his cradle-to-career education agenda. Through our newly redesigned SIG program, we have provided an unprecedented amount of funds to help turnaround this country’s 5,000 lowest-performing schools over the next five years.

In addition to providing unprecedented resources for school turnarounds, ED is working in partnership with schools to ensure student success. Having been a Superintendent, I know how much support is needed on the ground to implement reforms, and how difficult it is to actually turn around failing schools. But, I also know that school turnaround can be done, with the right supports.

This is why these conferences are especially important. In the next two days, grantees at the Eastern SIG Conference will have opportunities to learn from their colleagues and other education leaders on what’s working, and what looks promising, in school turnaround efforts across the country. The conference will address not only structural and organization reforms for turnaround, but also instructional best practices to meet the needs of students in schools. And perhaps more importantly, school, district, and state leaders will build new relationships, strengthen existing ones, and begin building communities of practice that will allow them to continue to share promising practices and successes they see with SIG in their schools and districts.

I’m confident that this conference – like the Western conference, held just last week, and the Central and Midwest Conferences coming up in May – will be just the beginning of continued conversations and learning among grantees and all stakeholders invested in the success of school turnarounds. And, it’s my hope that all participants will return to their states and districts re-energized and equipped with new information, resources and networks that will help transform our struggling schools into world-class centers of teaching and learning.

A SIG-Filled Week, and a New SIG Resource for Supporting Adolescent Literacy

I’m in Los Angeles to speak at the 2011 Western Regional Capacity-Building Conference for School Improvement Grant (SIG) recipients. This is the first of four conferences we are holding for grantees across the country, and I’m really excited to be here to kick off these learning sessions that will offer support to states, districts, and schools as they undertake the difficult but necessary work of school turnaround. Tomorrow, I’ll also be visiting two SIG schools to better see how turnaround work is progressing on the ground. I’ll provide a more detailed update on the conference and the visits when I return to DC, but in the meantime, I wanted to share with you new SIG resources that grantees may find helpful.

Last week, the Center on Instruction posted a series of 5 webinars, produced in conjunction with Doing What Works, on topics related to adolescent literacy.  These are recorded professional development webinars designed for SIG grantees, with content from the Center on Instruction and handouts and activities from the DWW adolescent literacy website. This is a valuable resource for SIG schools and districts who may be looking for more resources on improving literacy, and I encourage you to take a look.

Here are the available webinars in the “Using Doing What Works (DWW) Resources to Support SIG Grantees in Adolescent Literacy” series:

March Superintendent Monthly: Education Month

I’m pleased to announce that our March issue of Superintendent Monthly is now posted online. We have more information on the upcoming Superintendent Call in April, as well as updates on the President’s activities during March, which has been designated as “Education Month” by the White House. We also have some new grant opportunities open, so I encourage you to take some time to read over the newsletter.

If you’d like to receive the newsletter via email, please sign up at http://eepurl.com/cnFkL. If you have any questions or feedback on the newsletter, please e-mail me at AskDrT@ed.gov. For back issues of the newsletter, you can visit http://www.ed.gov/oese-news/superintendent-monthly.