Stamford Prioritizes SRBI in School Improvement Effort

SERC is supporting Stamford Public Schools in its district-wide implementation of Scientific Research-Based Interventions (SRBI), a key element in the district’s strategic improvement plan.

Stamford had implemented SRBI in its elementary schools and sought to expand it to the secondary level when it tapped SERC for technical assistance. SERC Consultant Michelle LeBrun-Griffin is working with the district to guide its development of a framework, strategy, and process for implementation.

In this endeavor, district leadership has been particularly engaged, Michelle says. She has worked closely with Dr. Michael Fernandes, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools, who has helped ensure district communications reflect the training and messaging from the SRBI implementation effort. The district has infused this effort in its overall strategic plan, ensuring synergy between the implementation of SRBI and other school improvement goals.

SRBI is a critical piece of the improvement process both at the district level and school level; the Academy of Information Technology & Engineering (AITE) High School has been the pilot school for the secondary-level SRBI implementation. The chance to serve in this role, AITE Principal Tina Rivera says, has helped building leaders connect the dots: how the school goals and data teams in progress are aligned with the district goals and the strategic school improvement plan.

“I thought that was an amazing opportunity because it would allow us to focus on the work we’d already begun,” she says.

Collecting data can be cumbersome, so the school is providing additional professional learning, peer coaching, and meeting time, Tina adds. The teachers use the information gleaned from this process to determine what students need.

“That’s [been] really kind of powerful,” she explains. “All these teams have pieces of information that inform or should inform the decisions we’re making around SRBI.”

She noted one challenge for the high school: The SRBI process has been more naturally collaborative for elementary schools, which have built-in specialists such as reading intervention teachers, and for middle schools that have grade-level teams. However, she notes that secondary schools can help students with significant gaps in learning with good instruction, scaffolding, and differentiation.

Ultimately these students may need targeted intervention, and the effort at AITE involves a building-level SRBI core team. Michelle helps facilitate the work of each team, which includes administration, a literacy expert, special education teachers, a behavioral specialist, and two to three other teachers in different subjects to lead change.

“Work cannot be done in isolation,” says Rebecca Wilson, the SRBI District Coordinator. “It touches everything and everyone.” Any adult in a school building, from office secretary on, may play a role in this work and sometimes in the provision of intervention.

The team is not just associated with a system of interventions for struggling learners. The common messaging from both the school and district emphasizes equity and the improvement of teaching and learning for all, Michelle says. In the process, the district evaluates what curriculum and instructional areas need enhancement to increase access to learning—from organized social-emotional supports to coordinated individualized education programs (IEPs).

“I haven’t been jazzed about something like I am about this, because I see the end piece,” Tina says—how beneficial it will be for all students and staff.

SERC’s Director honored

CT Parent Power honored SERC Executive Director Ingrid M. Canady with a “hero award” at its Red Carpet Hero Awards Gala October 13. The awards honor individuals, who do not know in advance they are receiving an award, for their leadership in support of Connecticut’s children and families.

Marilyn Calderon, founder of CT Parent Power, presented the awards. Among the awardees was Jessica Sager, CEO of All Our Kin in New Haven and a SERC Foundation Board member along with Marilyn.

Ingrid received the “Educational Equity Leadership Hero Award.” “She is an amazing leader. She is one that believes that all is possible,” Marilyn said. Ingrid received the award “for her unwavering tenacity, transparency, inspiration and dedication to leading our state alongside community members. [She is] culturally sensitive and responsive to all of the children and families that dare to dream. Thank you for making those dreams come true.”

Traveling for more Courageous Conversation

Three individuals from SERC were among nearly 1,000 attending the Pacific Educational Group’s (PEG’s) 2017 National Summit for Courageous Conversation in Detroit October 14-18.

SERC has a long history with PEG and its founder Glenn Singleton, who has helped guide SERC’s journey in racial equity, facilitated SERC’s “Beyond Diversity” sessions, and served as a keynote speaker at SERC and the SERC Foundation’s Dismantling Systemic Racism conference. PEG’s annual summit is an opportunity to delve deeper and meet other equity leaders from across the country and the globe.

SERC Executive Director Ingrid M. Canady and SERC Consultants Janet Zarchen and Kc Nelson-Oliveria attended the summit this year. SERC has eight individuals who are PEG Affiliates, trained to use the PEG protocol. Attendance at the National Summit continues to build on SERC’s “Courageous Conversations” in its equity work internally and with schools.

SERC represented at the U.S. Department of Education…

SERC’s Jeremy Bond, a Board member of the national ParentCamp Inc., assisted with the planning and facilitation of a ParentCamp held at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., Oct. 23.

ParentCamps bring families, educators, advocates, and others together to discuss issues in education. The theme for this year’s ParentCamp at the Department of Education was “Informed Families Thrive: Equipping Middle & High School Students for Success.”

Modeled after EdCamps, which are largely run by teachers, ParentCamps offer opportunities for parent leadership and promote school/family/community engagement. This was Jeremy’s third annual ParentCamp at the Department of Education.

… And at the Digital Citizenship Summit

Jeremy also was a panelist at the third annual Digital Citizenship Summit, held in Provo, Utah, November 2-3. The summit originated in Connecticut at the University of St. Joseph in 2015; others representing Connecticut at the Utah summit were a summit organizer, Marialice Curran of Glastonbury, who founded the Digital Citizenship Institute, her son Curran Dee, a fifth grader, the “Chief Kid Officer” of DigCitKids, and several members of BRAVE Girls Leadership Inc.

The summit promotes social good through the use of social media and other technology in education and the global community. The 2017 event focused on expanding the network of individuals engaged in digital citizenship and promoted youth voice.