U.S. Department of Education: School Improvement in a Challenging Context
The Comprehensive Center Network and State Partners will provide participants with new insight and strategies for school improvement implementation in a COVID-19 context. The Department of Education staff will briefly review the school improvement requirements and expectations and introduce the role of Regional Comprehensive Centers in working with state education agencies. Centers and states will highlight several initiatives that discuss a variety of services and supports used to facilitate school improvement: training provided to school improvement coaches; strategies and tools for reducing achievement gaps in low-performing schools; building LEA capacity to plan strategic use of funds and conduct resource allocation reviews; and adapting school improvement strategies during the pandemic.
In her role at WestEd and with the Regional Comprehensive Centers, Felicia Brown Reed provides technical assistance and strategic support to state education agencies and school districts across the country. Through facilitation, process management, and strategic analysis, she organizes teams of leaders to set goals, create policy, and make improvements in the name of more equitable educational opportunities for students. Prior to joining WestEd, Reed served at the Rhode Island Department of Education and various national education non-profits. Reed has earned a BA in human development (early childhood) and East Asian studies from Connecticut College, an MEd in school leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and an EdM in educational leadership from The Broad Center.
Ben Cronkright currently leads partnerships within the Regional Education Laboratory in the Pacific region as well as the Region 11 Comprehensive Center. He has worked directly with stakeholders at all levels of the education system, including board of education members, state education agency staff, state and complex area superintendents, and school-level staff. Ben has provided researchbased insights in understandable and meaningful ways on a variety of topics, including college and career readiness, family and community engagement, school leadership, teacher effectiveness, and systems improvement. He is the project lead for Accomplishing Effective and Durable Change to Reduce Student Achievement Gaps in North Dakota Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) Schools.
Ariel Jacobs serves as a Management and Program Analyst on Title I and Low Performing Schools for the Office of State Grant and Program Support (OSGPS), with the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), in the U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC. Previously, Ms. Jacobs served as a program officer for State Entity Grants in the Office of Charter School Programs and Race to the Top State and District Grants in the former Office of State Support and the Office of the Deputy Secretary’s (ODS) Implementation and Support Unit (ISU). She began her career as a Teach For America New York City Corps member teaching 7th and 8th grade communication arts and social studies. Ms. Jacobs then joined the founding staff of Pace High School as the U.S. History teacher. She has also held program management positions at AnLar Incorporated, the Aspen Institute's Education & Society Program, and the District of Columbia Education Compact. She is also a co-founder of Young Education Professionals-DC and Young Education Professionals. Ms. Jacobs earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Macalester College, a Master of Science in Teaching from Pace University, and a Master of Arts in Social Work, Policy, and Administration from the University of Chicago.
Stephanie S. Johnson, Ed.D., is the Deputy Superintendent of School Improvement at GaDOE where she also leads the Division of District and School Effectiveness and Professional Development. Dr. Johnson’s focus is building leader capacity and providing resources and support to improve all schools, including those eligible for targeted and comprehensive assistance under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Additionally, her work includes implementing a tiered, proactive system of supports, ensuring that all Georgia schools have the resources they need and are improving student outcomes and expanding opportunities for increased student achievement. Johnson received her Educational Specialists’ degrees in both School Counseling and Educational Leadership from the University of South Alabama, and she completed her Doctor of Education Degree in Educational Leadership and Management. Her specialty areas are school transformation, rebuilding organizational norms, focusing on successful and measurable academic tactics, communicating a positive vision, and gaining support from key influencers. Her areas of specialty inform her leadership approach, as she views those factors as the foundation of academic and community success for all.
Priscilla J. Maynor, Ed.D., serves as Co-Director for the Region 6 Comprehensive Center at the SERVE Center at UNC Greensboro. Dr. Maynor provides leadership for the region’s SEA Principal Liaisons as well as leads the State Relations Teams in conducting needs assessments and consultations with their respective SEAs. Since starting her professional career as a special education teacher, Dr. Maynor’s experience spans across the K-12 public education sector – including classroom, school, local district, regional, and state. She has extensive experience nationally working with school districts, government agencies, Tribes, foundations, nonprofits, and for-profit organizations. Her unique set of perspectives on culture, teaching and learning, equity and the power of the community fuels her passion to catalyze leadership and innovation in schools serving under-represented populations.
Dr. Brook Meiller has been a classroom teacher, a district coordinator of language arts, an instructional coach, a professional development provider for the K20 Center at the University of Oklahoma, a district administrator and most recently the Executive Director of School Support. Meiller currently serves as the Deputy Superintendent of School Support & Improvement at the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
Esley Newton serves as an Education Program Specialist in the Office of Program and Grantee Support Services (PGSS), with the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) in the U.S. Department of Education. She is one of the Program leads supporting the Comprehensive Centers Program. Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Education, Dr. Newton led the Adapting Curriculum for Student Success (ACCESS) Project at the University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies, where she facilitated various professional development initiatives that focused on providing equitable access to the general education curriculum for students with disabilities. In addition, she worked as an Instructional Coach and Special Educator supporting students with autism and significant cognitive disabilities in Delaware schools. She has earned a B.S. from Towson University in Women’s Studies, an M.Ed. from the University of Delaware in Exceptional Children and Youth, and Ed.D. from the University of Delaware in Educational Leadership.
Deb Page, CPT, serves as the Region 6 Comprehensive Center's SEA Principal Liaison supporting the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE). Ms. Page trains SEA, Regional Education Service Agency staff and LEA leaders through the intensive LAUNCH!™ School Improvement Performance Development experience. She also supports Region 6 in the development and facilitation of a network of Georgia rural high-poverty schools, and a national network of school improvement facilitators. Ms. Page is President of the Institute for Performance Improvement and is co-author of the School Improvement Specialist Field Guide from Corwin Press. Ms. Page is a former high school Language Arts teacher with 25 years of experience in the business sector in Human Capital Development, Human Resources, Continuous Improvement, Performance Management and Business Development, primarily in a Fortune 500 company
Amanda Peterson supports and leads multiple portfolios and projects within the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. In today’s expanding global marketplace, educators need to scaffold, vary, and individualize instruction to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse set of learners. Amanda’s extensive training in these areas allow her to support and scale state-wide efforts. She leads the Targeted and Comprehensive Support and Improvement efforts for ND’s low performing schools, serves as the NDREA liaison, manages and oversees various federal title grants, participates in personalized competency-based learning efforts across the state, facilitates efforts to expand North Dakota Multi-tiered systems of support, and collaborates with multiple offices within the Students Support and Innovation unit, moving forward quality instructional practices in all of North Dakota’s schools.
Danielle Smith serves as Director for the Office of Program and Grantee Support Services in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) at the U.S. Department of Education. Ms. Smith oversees technical assistance programs including the Comprehensive Centers Program, the Equity Assistance Centers, and other national technical assistance centers and coordinates OESE’s support to all States and U.S. territories. Ms. Smith has led several technical assistance initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education, including in the Office of State Support, the State Support Network, the Equitable Access Support Network and the Reform Support Network.