i3 Director Looks to Retirement as Latest Change Opportunity

Carol Lyons farewell

Carol Lyons (center) is joined by members of OII’s i3 Team to celebrate her 39 years of federal service and wish her well in retirement.

Earlier this month, OII said goodbye to Carol Lyons, who directed the Investing in Innovation (i3) Program since 2011. Carol retired after 39 years of federal service.

As i3 director, Carol supervised two busy years of complex grant competitions, annual project director meetings, and day-to-day monitoring of an ever-increasing portfolio of i3 grantees, including the recently announced 2013 cohort. While her time as the i3 director was likely the most hectic, she has had many wonderful opportunities in the federal government throughout her career. Carol worked at the Library of Congress, on Capitol Hill, and at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, before it was split to create the Department of Education as we know it today. She also taught school briefly before embarking on her federal career.

Continue reading

Posted in Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) | Comments Off

Promise Zones Launched in Five Communities

On Thursday, Jan. 9, President Obama announced the first five “Promise Zones,” where local communities and businesses will work together to create jobs, increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, increase access to quality, affordable housing, and improve public safety. Announced in last year’s State of the Union Address, the Promise Zones Initiative is part of the President’s plan to create a better bargain for the middle-class.

The first five Zones — in San Antonio, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma — have put forward plans for how they will partner with local business and community leaders to make investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity. Click here for a fact sheet on the Promise Zones Initiative and the key strategies of each of the five Zones.

Continue reading

Posted in Community Engagement, Grants, Promise Neighborhoods | Comments Off

The End’s the Beginning for TQP Director Peggi Zelinko

Peggi Zelinko (center, in red) is joined by current and former staff of the Teacher Quality and i3 Fund Programs and other ED colleagues to celebrate her retirement. (Department of Education photo by Paul Wood)

Peggi Zelinko (center, in red) is joined by current and former staff of the Teacher Quality and i3 Fund Programs and other ED colleagues to celebrate her retirement. (Department of Education photo by Paul Wood)

Last month, OII said a fond farewell to Director of Teacher Quality Programs Peggi Zelinko. Peggi retired at the end of November after 19 years of service at the Department of Education.

Peggi was named the Director of the Teacher Quality Programs (TQP) in OII in 2005. In that role, she oversaw a number of discretionary grant programs focusing on teacher quality and school leadership. These programs have included Transition to Teaching, Troops to Teachers, Teaching American History, the National Writing Project, the School Leadership Program, Supporting Effective Educator Development, and Teacher Quality Partnerships. She also served for a year as acting director of the Investing in Innovation (i3) program, while maintaining her leadership role of TQP. Before her leadership role with TQP, Peggi served as a program officer for the Transition to Teaching program and team leader for the School Leadership Program in OII, and as the program officer for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education’s teacher quality initiatives.

Peggi was a practitioner as well as a policy maker. Formerly a staff member with the U.S. Department of Labor and the West Virginia State Department of Education, she also worked as a teacher educator at the collegiate level and as a high school marketing teacher. Her work at ED was defined by this background in education. One of her chief goals as a program director was to ensure that programs show results. “To what end?” was one of her signature comments when assessing grant program activities.

Continue reading

Posted in Investing in Innovation Fund (i3), School Leadership, Teacher Quality | Comments Off

Time-Tested Routines at Heart of Common Core Transition

As states, districts, and schools implement the Common Core State Standards, a new resource to help them with the change process is available from The Achievement Network (ANet), an OII Investing in Innovation (i3) grantee. Focusing on the How: Guidance for School and District Leaders on Supporting Teachers Through the Transition to the Common Core addresses the uncertainty that educators may have about the transition to the Common Core.

Educators’ traditional sources of stability and direction are undergoing change as they implement the content changes associated with Common Core. It is “time-tested routines,” according to ANet, that can provide an infrastructure for implementing the new standards. These include “consistent, collaborative routines for planning from standards, evaluating student progress, and adapting instruction based on student needs.”

Continue reading

Posted in Academic Achievement, Grants, Investing in Innovation Fund (i3), School Improvement | Comments Off

New ED Resources Offer Reform Insights and Help

Just in time for the New Year, the Department of Education has launched two new education reform resources. Bookshelf is a series of ready-made presentations that highlight numerous focus areas in education. The presentation slide decks present facts, charts, data, and other information reflecting progress and challenges in improving education, as well as ED programs and initiatives that aim to close achievement gaps and foster equal educational opportunities. The presentations are available to the public for download and use.

The Department has also created a new blog, Progress: Teachers, Leaders, and Students Transforming Education, to highlight state and local innovative ideas, promising practices, lessons learned, and resources informed by the implementation of K-12 education reforms. These lessons from the field showcase reforms in action spurred by programs such as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, School Improvement Grants, Promise Neighborhoods, and ESEA Flexibility. The new blog is intended to provide insight into the exciting transformations taking place in classrooms, schools, and systems across the country through the leadership of teachers, school, district and state leaders and their partners.

Plan to visit these new Web resources in 2014 in addition to staying connected to OII’s home page. Not subscribed to our home page yet? Click here to subscribe and follow us on Twitter @ED_OII.


Posted in Educational Improvement, Innovation in the Field, School Reform | Comments Off

Department Announces Highest-Rated Applications Secure Match Funding and Become Grantees for Investing in Innovation 2013 Competition

(Dec. 13, 2013) The U.S. Department of Education today announced that the 25 highest-rated applications (HRAs) for the fourth round of the Investing in Innovation (i3) program competition have secured private-sector matching funds and will be awarded approximately $134 million by the end of December to expand innovative practices designed to improve student achievement.

The 25 grantees were selected from 618 applications, representing 13 states and the District of Columbia. With this new cohort, the i3 program will encompass a total of 117 projects that are using more than $1 billion in federal funds and nearly 200 million in private-sector dollars to address some of the most important challenges in education.

“In this era of rapid change, these i3 awards will help grantees prepare students for the rigor and changing demands of the global job market,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “The collaborative efforts of these grantees and their private-sector partners will further our focus on ensuring students are successful in education and careers.”

Continue reading

Posted in Grants, Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) | Comments Off

Video Series Reveals How i3 Science Project is Unfolding

Want to get a firsthand look at how elementary school teachers in Virginia are changing the way they view science and how they teach it because of an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant? You can by tuning in to the VISTA Voices: Inside the Elementary Program video series. Teachers from across the state attended summer institutes where they worked with students, gained hands-on practice using new teaching methods, and made plans for implementing new approaches, both individually and as school-based teams — all part of the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA).

Continue reading

Posted in Grants, Investing in Innovation Fund (i3), Professional Development, STEM | Comments Off

Time Out for Writing

In mid-September, as most of the Department’s staff was focused on closing out the federal fiscal year, a group of more than 10 employees from a number of department offices, including Teaching Ambassador Fellows, took a hiatus from “end-of-the-fiscal-year mode” to learn about innovative and effective ways of teaching writing that are being used throughout the nation’s classrooms.

Margarita Meléndez with the June 2013 edition of Language Magazine, in which her article about Digital Is appeared. (Photo by Judy Buchanan, courtesy of NWP)

Margarita Meléndez with the June 2013 edition of Language Magazine, in which her article about Digital Is appeared. (Photo by Judy Buchanan, courtesy of NWP)

Staff from the National Writing Project (NWP) presented a two-part seminar that highlighted the organization’s cutting-edge work in the fields of digital writing and digital writing instruction, as well as information on successful initiatives that integrate writing across the curriculum at all levels of instruction. The seminar was organized by the Office of Innovation and Improvement’s Teacher Quality Programs Office.

As most readers of this blog are familiar, the goal of the NWP is to improve student achievement by improving the teaching and uses of writing in the nation’s schools. Headquartered at the University of California – Berkeley, the NWP serves teachers nationwide through a network of more than 200 local sites hosted by colleges and universities. The Department has supported the NWP for many years, most recently as a recipient of the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program. The NWP received SEED grants in Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013.

Continue reading

Posted in Grants, History, Technology, Writing | 2 Comments

Comments Invited on Charter School Program’s National Leadership Activities Grants

The U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) invites public comment on the notice of proposed priorities, requirements, and definitions for CSP grants for National Leadership Activities, published in the December 3rd Federal Register. The Department may use these proposed priorities, requirements, and definitions for a National Leadership Activities competition in FY 2014 and beyond.

Proposed priorities included in this notice will be used to ensure that grant projects funded under future National Leadership Activities competitions address key policy issues currently facing charter schools and impact stakeholders on a national scale. The proposed priorities will also create incentives for organizations to improve the quality of charter schools by providing technical assistance and other types of support on issues of national significance and scope and by disseminating information to stakeholder

Continue reading

Posted in Charter Schools, Educational Improvement, Grants, School Reform | Comments Off

Artists Mark International Education Week with Exhibit and Performances

VSA student and adult artists and speakers at the exhibit opening gather for a moment on stage before the ribbon-cutting.

VSA student and adult artists and speakers at the exhibit opening gather for a moment on stage before the ribbon-cutting.

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the U.S. Department of Education (ED), in celebration of International Education Week, hosted the VSA Student Art Exhibit and ribbon-cutting ceremony, Yo Soy … Je Suis … I Am … My Family, in Barnard Auditorium. VSA was founded almost 40 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to create a society in which people with disabilities learn through the arts, and is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Kennedy Center’s education programs are supported by a National Arts in Education Program grant from OII.

The exhibit is a collection of 19 works by students from 10 nations in VSA’s International Art Program for Children with Disabilities. Also featured were music performances by winners of VSA’s International Young Soloists Competition. There are an additional 51 pieces on display at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.

Continue reading

Posted in Arts, Arts Education, Grants, Special Education | Comments Off