Step Up, K12 Leaders! Our Schools Need YOU! & So Do Our Teachers & Our Kids

real logo hi resEducation Week™, a widely-read online educational publication, has just released “A Sneak Peak” of their annual “Leaders To Learn From in 2015.”  Four current K12 school adminsistrators were featured this past week, with the full listing of other notables due out soon.

EdWeekClick on the EdWeek graphic to the right to read this interesting story in full. Reading it prompted us, your RE@L Blogmeisters, to bring these stories to you, along our own followup commentaries.

Leadership is key to succesful K12 reform in our schools. But it’s just one of the keys! And there are so many doors we need to open.

Let’s see what these 4 transformative school educators had to say about making K12 work better for the public they serve. This year’s award winners were:

TiffanyAndersonTiffany Anderson, Superintendent in Jennings, MO. “Her school district is demonstrating how high-poverty communities can improve academic achievement by focusing on meeting students’ needs inside and outside the classroom.”

See her insightful video statement by clicking the graphic to the left.

Anderson lists 3 ideas on how high-poverty communities can raise academic achievement.

  1. Build RelationshipsRE@L adds: It’s almost impossible to make major changes alone. Form partnerships.
  2. Create a rigorous curriculumRE@L adds: A well-defined course of study is essential for both students and teachers.
  3. Pedagogy — it’s still about great teaching - RE@L adds: It’s always and ultimately about great teaching!

GrierSchadTerry Grier, Superintendent, and Lenny Schad, Chief Technology Information Officer in Houston, TX. “Their district …. is setting the bar for how to manage the digital transformation of a large urban school system. Click on the graphic to the right to hear their short video story.

“At the heart of that transformation is the strong partnership between (these two leaders).”  Supt. Greer and CIO Schad created a new Digital-Transformation Plan for their district that forged a stronger connection between their Strategic (District Vision) and Tactical (Daily Operational Plans). Here’s their top 3 points.

  1. Defining success and how to measure itRE@L adds: If you don’t know what you want, you’ll never know it if you get it.
  2. Deal forthrightly with a lack of historical data - RE@L adds: Never make promises for changes you can’t possibly deliver, no matter how good they sound.
  3. Creating the accountability system is just the beginning - RE@L adds: Everybody involved needs to know who is doing what.


Deputy Superintendent Josh Garcia, Tacoma Public Schools in Tacoma, WA. “He has pioneered a local accountability system that uses a much broader definition of success than how schools are typically judged.”

Garcia designed a new accountabiity system that resulted in greater district-wide success. He emphasized these three points and RE@L adds our own observations:

  1. Work togetherRE@L adds: If you don’t work together, you will surely be working alone.
  2. Think big-pictureRE@L adds: Be ambitious in your goal setting, but be realistic too.
  3. Urgency matters, but success matters more RE@L adds: Have a timetable, stick to it if you can, announce it if you can’t.

RE@L agrees that these are all important principles to effective change. We strongly believe in the “Think The Big-Picture” theme. Today’s opportunity is about way more than just buying technology and the software/apps to go with it.  The authentic architect and skilled creator of the day-to-day learning in the classroom is still the teacher. The teacher is the catalyst to what happens between the content and the learners.

So look  for the connects and disconnects in your classroom, or school or district. Knowing what doesn’t work can often lead to what does. Let your real leaders, wherever they are, (and they are everywhere), help find the answers. There are many keys to the doors of change in K12.

Stay tuned for 12 more Leaders on Education Week’s list of 2015 honorees.

Coming soon from Education Week and blog-covered by RE@L.


What do YOU think will work?

Just click on the email link below to send us your comments or questions.



Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.