Kahua: Building a Foundation for Rapid School Turnaround
'O ke kahua ma mua, ma hope ke kukulu - Set the foundation first, then the building. Waimanalo Elementary/Intermediate is a Title 1 school in a rural, predominantly Native Hawaiian community that was identified for comprehensive school improvement in 2022. Like many schools in the initial stage of their improvement journey, we needed to create a foundation first. We will share how the “first chapter” of our journey leverages shared leadership, data, and evidence-based practices to build a foundation for rapid turnaround. We moved forward, backward, dodged potholes, had detours, made U-turns, and we are still going. Does this sound familiar? Join us in building a deeper understanding of how school turnaround happens at the ground level. Letʻs move forward together!
Dr. Jana Chang serves as a Complex Area Academic Officer. She supports the school improvement work at Waimanalo School in Hawaii. She has served as a middle school teacher. established Hawaiiʻs teacher leader academy, served as a research analyst and managed a grant to promote educator data use. Her doctoral research focused on the improvement journeys of restructured schools during NCLB. Her presentation experience has focused on the use of data to close achievement gaps, improve graduation rates, and transform schools.
After leading an elementary school to Blue Ribbon status, Jamie Dela Cruz was called on to lead a turnaround high school. Waimanalo Elementary & Intermediate is his second turnaround school. Principal Dela Cruz "leads with love" and has been instrumental in bringing the Choose Love movement to Hawaii schools to build social-emotional learning and resilience.
Giselle Sherry-Marsh is a school and district improvement specialist at WestEd. She assists leaders at the state, district, and school levels with applying the Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement framework to support continuous improvement efforts.
Sherry-Marsh has over 12 years of successful school turnaround experience within urban and suburban schools and districts. She was a successful school turnaround principal before transitioning to a district office role as the Director of School Improvement, Accountability, and Assessment for a southeast school district. In that role, she coached district and school teams on using data to facilitate school improvement efforts. Her strategic approach to turnaround helped 100 percent of the district’s low-performing schools improve their differentiated accountability status. While leading school turnaround for the district, Sherry-Marsh also worked to develop teacher leaders and supported principals navigating their approach to school culture.
Sherry-Marsh is a graduate of Florida State University where she earned both her BS in science education with a specialization in chemistry and her MS in educational leadership and policy studies.